Nearly three-quarters of women believe the industry is “making progress” toward achieving gender equality.

Nearly three-quarters of women in insurance believe the industry is on a path toward achieving gender equality, new research shows.

The Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation discloses this finding in a summary of results from a poll conducted at the IICF’s 2015 Women in Insurance Global Conference in New York in June. The poll captured the insight of more than 300 women who attended the 650-person conference.

The survey shows that 72 percent of women occupying leadership in insurance roles believe the industry is “making progress” toward achieving gender equality. In addition, more than two-thirds (68 percent) of women said their organization is working to promote gender diversity. The percentage matches result of an IICF poll conducted on the same topic at last year’s IICF conference.   

Among the survey’s additional findings:

  • When asked about the greatest challenge women face in ascending to leadership, 39 percent of respondents cited limited opportunities for upward mobility within their company.

  • Another 30 percent of respondents stated that the greatest challenge is women not promoting themselves effectively.

  • 37 percent of respondents believe that the industry’s biggest improvement toward gender diversity is seen via shifts in corporate culture. The benefit of networking opportunities were observed as well, with 24 percent of respondents naming this the most important step toward establishing gender diversity (up from just 9 percent last year).

While acknowledging continuing “external barriers” for women who seek leadership positions in their company, the percentage of respondents who named “biases in advancement” and “lack of opportunities for professional advancement” as the chief barriers fell to 68 percent, from 76 percent in 2014.

The survey’s authors cite the last finding as evidence that insurers are “seeing the value” that a diverse leadership group can provide.

“As evidenced by the tremendous turnout of the 2015 Women in Insurance Global Conference and the engaging discussions it created, companies are clearly recognizing the need for a more gender inclusive workplace,” says Betsy Myatt, executive Director of IICF’s Northeast Division. “Each year, we’re seeing more and more people inspired to champion change.

“For example, we’ve seen many conference attendees start up their own women’s networks and mentorship programs to foster the advancement of women in their organizations,” she added.

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