International Women’s Day 2022 – Women still underrepresented in the insurance industry
Women are still largely underrepresented in insurance leadership positions as well as life insurance policy ownership. As we continue to work toward gender equality across all industries, PolicyAdvisor is working to dispel insurance myths and inform women about the importance of protecting their financial future.
Each year on March 8th, the world celebrates the achievements of women and promotes gender equality across the globe for International Women’s Day. Yet, the insurance industry still lags behind when it comes to female representation.
Women working in the insurance industry
A 2017 study by McKinsey & Company surveyed more than 14,000 employees at 39 financial companies and interviewed 12 female senior executives at financial-services companies in North America, including insurance companies. The study found that while women made up over 56% of the entry-level positions, only 13 percent were vice presidents and 18 percent held c-suite (executives) positions.
From this data, we see women find success in entry-level insurance positions, but something happens to the progression to leadership as they move through their careers.
While each individual woman might have a story about why they do not or have not progressed to a leadership position there are also other systemic factors that contribute to why women aren’t in a leadership position, starting with how female children are taught about their role in society and the workplace. One KPMG study reports that 86% of women remember being taught to be nice to others growing up, but only 44% remember being taught to be a good leader, and only 34% were taught to share their point of view. These fundamental lessons could have a huge impact on their confidence and ability to lead.
Additionally, gender biases and societal stereotypes still play a factor whether obvious in companies or not. Many women take up the role of being the primary caregiver for their children due to lingering gender expectations, causing them to prioritize home over work life, which may hinder their chances of promotion. Think about it… if your kid is sick at daycare, do they call mom or dad first to come pick up the kids? Studies have shown that when companies put emphasis on equality (gender, ethnic, or racial), they see 15-35% better returns than their industry national average. Additionally, Harvard Business Review reiterates that when companies have a more diverse leadership team they are more effective at reaching diverse audiences. So, it’s clear that investing in women’s leadership growth provides high returns for companies, however the gender gap still exists. A more recent update of the McKinsey & Company study reports that as of 2020, women represent 66% of entry-level insurance positions and 29% of c-suite positions. In 2022, strides still need to be taken in the insurance office to lessen the gap, but where do women stand as insurance consumers?
Women’s life insurance coverage
Not only are women underrepresented in the insurance workforce, women also are not purchasing life insurance as much as men, potentially leaving their financial futures vulnerable. US industry stats from LIMRA say women are less likely than men to hold life insurance coverage; only 47% of women reported owning a life insurance policy. Unfortunately, our own stats at PolicyAdvisor.com confirm this gender disparity in the Candian market—in 2021, only 45% of our policyholders were women. In addition to this, industry stats tell us that women hold less coverage than men.
So, while we’ve been rallying behind gender equality movements for decades, why does the gender gap exist when protecting ourselves through life insurance? LIMRA reports that most women don’t purchase life insurance due to a lack of knowledge of the product and how much it costs—it was found that 8 in 10 women overestimate the cost of life insurance. Our own study of Canadian consumer behaviour in 2021 reflects these findings as well. However, women actually receive better rates than men due to the statistical data reporting that women live longer than men.
Women get better life insurance rates
Despite women holding less coverage than men and, in general, are less likely to have a policy, women actually receive better premiums compared to their male counterparts. Life insurance premiums are determined by a variety of health and lifestyle factors, and according to statistics, women live longer.
It is true that other types of insurance, such as disability insurance, may have higher premiums for women due to higher claims frequency. However, while there are health factors that affect women that don’t affect men, such as pregnancy, life insurance rates still favour women.
History of International Women’s Day
The first International Women’s Day (IWD) was celebrated officially in 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland on 19 March. It was sparked by the celebrations and rallies of feminist movements asking for equality. They were fighting for many of the things we take for granted today such as the right to vote, own property, hold office, go to school, and have a bank account.
You can read more about the history of IWD here.
International Women’s Day 2022
This year, the theme of IWD is #breakthebias. It advocates for a world free of bias, stereotyping, and discrimination both blatant and underlying. While IWD has been celebrated for over 100 years, there is much work to do to break the bias and make sure women have an equal seat at the table, both in the c-suite and at home when discussing family finances.
So, what can we do to #breakthebais in the life insurance industry?
Life insurance education
As LIMRA reported, many women don’t hold life insurance policies because they don’t know enough about the product. At PolicyAdvisor, we continue our mission to make insurance accessible for everyone. We aim to be a resource for those who are looking to purchase life insurance and want to learn more about it. Our Life Insurance Learning Centre hosts hundreds of explainer articles about all things insurance and anyone can ask us a question using our live chat box!
Make insurance accessible
We are the first to admit that insurance topics may not be the most exciting thing to read about in a world inundated with viral dog videos and dramatic world news events. Insurance documents and resources can be laden with industry jargon, making it even less appetizing. But we’re on a mission to make insurance #jargonfree. Check out our social media channels! You’ll find our Jargon Free Friday series as well as several educational posts about life insurance in a way that’s easy to consume and fun to follow.
Start the conversation
Sometimes, you just need to talk things through with someone. We totally get that! Our expert advisors are always open to chatting about your financial goals— with no obligation at all! Let’s just figure out if life insurance makes sense for you and your family. Book a call with our advisors on your own time, no need to come down to an office!
Share the cause
We think we exist and a fairly modern world, but these studies show us that gender gaps still exist. We use opportunities like International Women’s day to highlight these gender disparities, share the stats, and question your own biases.
As an organization, PolicyAdvisor is participating in IWD and joining in the mission to #breakthebias. We hope that you’ll join us!
- Women are largely underrepresented on leadership teams in the insurance industry.
- Women, on average, have less life insurance coverage than men.
- Women are less likely to hold an insurance policy than men.
- Through financial education and leadership training for women, companies and the industry can benefit from a gender diversity.