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How the insurtech sector can increase the representation of women in insurance
There is much more that companies can be doing to boost female engagement in the insurance industry, writes Zego’s chief operating officer Sonia Flynn.
When I think of equality in the workplace, I think of the progress made across the UK and internationally in driving equal opportunity over the past two decades. When considering the technology sector, in particular, we have seen promising steps being made by those in the start-up scene and larger corporates to create equal opportunities for women and help them rise to the top.
To take Cisco as an example – the worldwide leader in IT, networking, and cybersecurity solutions – its Networking Academy was launched with this very aim in mind, providing individuals with the opportunity to learn valuable tech skills, at their own pace, at home. For this reason, it is helping many women make great advances in their careers in what has long been a male-dominated sector.
Efforts like this are clearly paying off. Indeed, a recent report has shown that female representation in technology – particularly at the leadership level – is steadily increasing. Between 2019 and 2022, female representation in the workforce grew from 30.8 per cent to 32.9 per cent; although it remains low, it shows a steady increase in a short period.
The fastest growth was seen in leadership roles, from 21.2 per cent in 2019 to 25.3 per cent in 2022. These results are an encouraging sign that more businesses in the tech space recognise that diverse workforces and executives are good for overall growth – with the smaller businesses now following suit.
Insurtechs can lead the way
Specifically, those in the insurtech space are setting the agenda for more female inclusion in the insurance sector, by hiring more female talent to boost business and disrupt a traditionally male-dominated sector. I joined Zego, an insurtech leading by example, almost a year ago as COO. The senior leadership team is now 66 per cent female, including Catherine Barton as our Chief Insurance Officer and Vicky Wills as our Chief Technology Officer.
Over the years, I have seen gradual change across the sector as a whole as more and more women look to the insurance market to build their careers. During my time in other organisations, such as Google and Facebook, I have seen different initiatives and programmes to ensure women have the choice to stay in the workforce.
Continually looking to improve on this front, I am proud to say that last year Zego pioneered introducing a miscarriage policy along with a handful of other organisations. The policy is open to employees and their partners and provides paid time off.
On top of this, we launched our trans and non-binary workplace policy later in 2021 to make sure we provide an inclusive workplace with room for everyone to be themselves. We know this sort of inclusivity makes us unique in the insurance sector, but we hope to lead by example until we see these kinds of policies becoming the norm across all industries.
What more can be done?
There is much more that companies can be doing to boost female engagement in the industry.
One place which companies need to focus on is education. We must look to the younger generation to ensure that the same biases and inequality don’t exist when they begin their careers.
We need to speak to young women at secondary schools and universities. It is essential to put STEM subjects in front of our young women early on, to boost engagement in these sectors, and to let them know they can work in insurance and transform the industry in their image.
Likewise, we need to see a real uptake in developing apprenticeship schemes and training programmes. Like other corporate firms, insurance companies need to gear these towards women from all backgrounds, specifically those who don’t have a university education. In this way, we can attract a genuinely diverse workforce to help expand the industry and drive diversity of thought.
We are seeing so many senior women join the insurance industry, but ultimately, we must ensure we attract women into entry-level positions. Insurtechs are turning insurance on its head, driving greater diversity and inclusivity within the workplace, and encouraging young female talent into the industry. To this end, insurtechs have a real chance to revolutionise the traditional insurance industry.
The views and opinions expressed are not necessarily those of AltFi.