A study by Liberty Mutual and Safeco found that 64% of women in frontline agency staff roles feel they are paid somewhat less or significantly less than their male peers.
The insurance industry is a great place for women to work and has made strides in gender equity—but there is still room for improvement, according to the recent study from Liberty Mutual and Safeco's Agent for the Future, “State of Women in Independent Insurance Agencies."
Women outnumber men in insurance agencies, making up nearly 60% of agency employees and, recently, women have made gains in leadership roles. The percentage of agencies with at least one woman in a principal or senior leadership role increased by 7 percentage points between 2018 and 2020, rising to 42%, according to the 2020 Agency Universe Study.
However, women make up 96% of customer service representatives and 68% of producers, according to the report. But of women under 50 years old who work as frontline staff, more than half are interested in becoming a partner in their agency and only 15% said they could not picture themselves as a leader at an agency.
Unfortunately, 1 in 4 female frontline staff don't feel they are given equal opportunity in their agency and more than one-third of female agency principals say they are often the only woman in the room, the study found.
Across the U.S. workforce, women earn 84% of what men earn, according to Pew Research Center, and the disparity is even more greater in insurance with female insurance producers earning 68% of what male producers earn, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Further, Liberty Mutual and Safeco's research found that 64% of women in frontline agency staff roles feel they are paid somewhat less or significantly less than their male peers.
“If agencies want to retain talented women, agency leaders need to make sure they are offering competitive pay rates," the report noted. “They also need to be transparent about compensation models, so women know they are being compensated commensurate with their male counterparts."
Flexibility is another key to retention of women in the industry and is one aspect in which the insurance industry is excelling. The report notes that many women in insurance say they “enjoy the flexibility insurance allows and love that they get to spend every day helping people protect the things that matter to them."
Nationally, more than 70% of workers who weren't happy with their job's flexibility would likely look for a new job within the next year, according to a study by Future Forum. According to Liberty Mutual and Safeco's study, the vast majority—92%—of women in frontline staff roles say they receive flexibility when they need it.
AnneMarie McPherson is IA news editor.
Want to learn more about empowering women in insurance? Read the full report, “The State of Women in Independent Insurance Agencies."