Broker Sara Bevan advocates for women-only events to encourage gender balance in insurance
Being a female business owner in the insurance industry is rewarding, but does come with a plethora of challenges.
Age is also a factor. When you are younger than most of your staff, it takes a lot of confidence to build up a management style that fits the way you run your company. Starting any business is fraught with the emotional, physical and financial challenges that come hand in hand with a start-up, but is being a woman and a business owner in insurance harder than other industries?
From my experience, yes.
The insurance industry is slowly changing, with the advent of InsurTech, marketing and insurers relying increasingly on digital channels to drum up business in a cut-throat arena.
The problem is, the persona of financial services is changing but I’m not sure it is attracting more women as a career. Being a broker is a flexible career route, and should appeal to more women, but stepping into the patriarchy of a male dominated environment can be intimidating.
Most networking or broker events will consist primarily of men; women are the rarities. Again, this is changing, but not fast enough. I have attended many events where I have been one of a handful of women, and I believe our voices are always the last to be listened to.
Sexism is rife, and I have personally encountered being asked if I was the secretary at a particular meeting with an insurer. Women business owners sit comfortably in every facet of industries across the globe, but are severely under-represented in financial services – just 13% of FCA-approved individuals in trading firms are women.
One way this could be overcome is to create more women-only events. Not to pander to feminism but to create a more level playing field in financial services.
I have attended many events where I have been one of a handful of women, and I believe our voices are always the last to be listened to
Old boys’ club
Women-only events give us the opportunity to network amongst our peers and not feel intimidated at walking into an atmosphere that, for some, feels like an old boys’ club.
Gender diversity in insurance needs to be tackled at the education phase of life; giving advice to younger people about the realities of the roles, the huge opportunities in financial services and the flexibility to build a career or business around your lifestyle. More women should look at advice as a career path that can be built around families and children. There is no shame in prioritising your family and being a mum and a wife, as I am, and also a successful business owner.
With recent movements to push the role and rights of women into the spotlight, it’s an excellent time to look at financial services and see how we can encourage a fairer playing field and broader spectrum of advisers working within it – and hopefully see more successful women coming into the industry.
Sara Bevan is owner of GI and life brokers Blueprint Life and Arc Protection.
Not everyone agrees that insurance is an old boys’ club but, time and time again, the sector is described as stale, pale and male. Gender and ethnic diversity in all forms should be encouraged. The evidence shows businesses that do this reap the rewards.
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