IICF's survey respondents indicated that the key challenges to advancing to senior roles are varied.

According to a recent IICF survey of over 800 female members of the insurance industry, just over one quarter (26 percent) of female life insurance professionals believe the insurance industry is more embracing of women in leadership positions as compared to other business and professional services industries.

The Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation discloses this finding in a survey the IICF conducted at the recent Women in Insurance Conference Series. The series was comprised of four regional events in June in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City and Dallas.

The survey respondents said that accounting and banking are the fields most supportive for the advancement of women, with 42 and 29 percent of the vote respectively (insurance received 23 percent of the vote). More than two-thirds of the women surveyed (68 percent) indicated their companies actively promote gender diversity.

“Though we as an industry have made significant strides in creating a positive and equal work environment, there is still more we can do,” said Joe Tocco, Chief Executive North America P&C for XL Group. “Collectively, the industry has been successful in continuing an important dialogue about gender diversity and the tangible, real-world benefits it provides for companies and their employees.

Survey results point to two primary factors as the biggest barriers for women seeking leadership positions: perceived lack of desire for senior roles to be filled by women and biases in the advancement/hiring structure within organizations.

At the same time, respondents acknowledged that the key challenges to advancing to senior roles are varied. For example, 35 percent cited limited availability of opportunities to move up the corporate ladder, but another 32 percent stated women’s own shortcomings in properly promoting themselves as the major deterrent to career advancement.

Survey-takers were asked to identify one primary action their companies could take to better support the development of women in the workplace. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) cited as their top choice the need for businesses to more efficiently identify high potential female employees and offer leadership training opportunities.