Making it happen for International Women's Day
Melanie Steel, March 06, 2015
International Women’s Day (IWD), held annually on 8 March, represents an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women around the world. This year’s theme is ‘Make it Happen’, its aim is to inspire women to pursue their own goals and ensure that their future is bright, equal, safe and rewarding.
With thousands of organisations marking the occasion with their own events, in the insurance sector we should use this day to consider how we’re inspiring women and supporting them in their careers. On a regular basis, I see the progress companies are making to help women by introducing initiatives aimed at them. They are clearly paying off too, with the ratio of men to women in a number of firms now reaching around 50:50.
I am heartened by how the sector has embraced diversity and inclusion but there are still some real gaps, in particular at the top of businesses, with certain areas still male-dominated. Attracting women into the sector is also challenging.
In its recent study of Talent in Insurance, Deloitte found that insurance is an unpopular career for business students globally, with the industry ranked 18th out of 30 sectors. As if this wasn’t bad enough, the research also found that women are comparatively less interested in the sector than their male counterparts. This sends a clear message to us all - more needs to be done to promote the attractiveness of insurance to students, particularly women.
That’s why for this year’s IWD, we’re hosting an event at our offices for a group of 30 girls, aged 12-13, from Swanlea School in Tower Hamlets. Joined by a panel of successful women including Sharla Duncan (CEO and founder of the social enterprise Team Up), Claire Bennett (UK fencing team Commonwealth gold medallist), and other senior women from within RSA, the students will hear about their careers and what has been key to their success. The aim is to motivate the girls to achieve their potential and increase their confidence, while at the same time explore the different types of jobs within insurance.
I know we’re not alone in trying to tackle this issue, and across the industry I’m seeing more companies come up with innovative approaches to this challenge. While events such as IWD are a good reminder that more needs to be done to help women achieve their goals, it’s important we don’t lose sight of the fact that inspiring women should be a priority throughout the year and not just for one day. By maintaining this focus, we’ll successfully help women who work with us both now and in the future. Together, we can make it happen.
Melanie Steel is HR director at RSA, a multinational insurance provider