From not being able to purchase a life insurance policy on themselves, in 1841, to making up half of the industry today, what a remarkable journey women had. While progress is happening, it is slow. The Daily Report advises that it wasn’t until 1961 that the United States saw its first Insurance Commissioner. But, decade by decade, they slowly chipped away at the barriers they faced.
Today, women make up roughly 50% of the workforce in the insurance industry, but only 18% of C-suite executive positions, according to Carrier Management. While driving such a vast portion of the industry, it is amazing that in 2023, women are still struggling for leadership positions.
(Graph from the Insurance Information Institute)
Even at Hastings Mutual, we only recently elected our very first female CEO & President, Renee Beauford. She is the first female CEO & President in the company’s 138-year history. When speaking to Carrier Management, Barbara Bufkin, Chair of the International Board of Governors of the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF) and President of the Association of Professional Insurance Women (APIW) stated: “We need to make sure that women’s voices are being heard when they are not in the room … we need to prepare women for executive roles. Giving women strong coaching to be more conscious of their own capabilities and confidence, to overcome ‘imposter syndrome’ and consider themselves for a position when they may not have felt ready for it.”
As we look to the future, and diversity, equity, and inclusion programs grow in all industries, one group of women are often overlooked, in these conversations - women of color. They “hold only 12 percent of entry-level roles and a mere 3 percent of direct-reporting roles to the CEO. That means that black, Hispanic, and Asian women altogether make up only three percent of the insurance C-suite,” reports Carrier Management. To truly champion the female future of the insurance industry, the industry must empower ALL women.
It comes down to more than promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion, too. At the end of the day, women in the insurance industry drive higher profits for their companies. In 2016, Credit Suisse conducted a report, finding that female led companies (wherein 15% or more of senior managers are female) produced profitability at 50% higher than companies where women were in less than 10% of leadership roles. Additionally, female CEOs consistently drive their stocks into outperforming the index. Some of those gains can be up to three or four times the index. The “Swiss Re Institute estimates that a 26 percent increase in global GDP in a scenario of labor market gender parity would yield an additional $2.1 trillion in global insurance premiums by 2029,” as reported by Carrier Management. In essence, more female representation means higher premiums, globally. Yet, Independent Agent Magazine states female Insurance sales staff make 67.6% of men who work in the same role.
These studies are all beneficial, but the lived experiences of women in the industry make them real. CEO & President Renee Beauford weighed in on the matter, in this insightful interview:
Independent Agent Magazine advises that over half of the women working in frontline Agency staff positions, under the age of 50, show interest in becoming a partner at their Agency. Renee Beauford’s advice, as well as the advice of so many other women in the industry, is easy- Encourage women, diversify your talent pool, and make space at the C-suite table for women.
120 Year Timeline of Women in Insurance
National WIFS (Women in Insurance & Financial Services)
WIFS MI (Women in Insurance and Financial Services, MI)
Labor Force Statistics
Fortune 50 Most Powerful Women
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