For Women’s History Month, here’s a look at how agencies can better support and empower women in the insurance industry.
March is Women's History Month, which makes it a great time to acknowledge all the contributions women make in insurance agencies and to look at how agencies can better support women.
Empowering women in agencies is crucial for the future success of the independent agent channel. Women now outnumber men in the insurance industry. And studies have shown that companies with more gender diversity on their executive teams are more profitable than companies with less diverse leadership.
At Liberty Mutual and Safeco, we want to see agencies thrive far into the future. We've seen how agencies grow when every member of the team is empowered to reach their full potential.
Our research team recently surveyed more than 350 women in independent insurance agencies to learn about their experiences, challenges and needs. The new Agent for the Future report, “The State of Women in Independent Insurance Agencies: Representation, Compensation and Recognition," dives into what we learned and provides practical takeaways for women to grow their insurance careers and for leaders to empower women in insurance agencies.
Here are some of the most surprising stats from the research:
1) Women make up 96% of customer service representatives (CSRs) and 68% of producers but only 31% of agency principals. Women are overrepresented in entry-level and service positions but still underrepresented in leadership positions. More than 1 in 3 female agency principals say they are often the only woman in the room.
There are tremendous opportunities for agencies to tap into the potential of female employees, develop their talents and consider them for perpetuation plans.
2) More than half (52%) of women younger than 50 who work as frontline staff are interested in becoming a partner in their agencies. Our research found that many women are ready and eager to step into leadership roles. More than half of women between the ages of 23 and 49 said they were interested in becoming a partner, and more than one in four wanted to learn about steps to buy or start an agency.
To hire and retain talented women, agencies need to provide career development opportunities and show that there are paths for career growth. This may include investing in continuing training and education, encouraging mentorship and sponsorship and having ongoing conversations about career goals.
3) 64% of female frontline staff feel they are paid less than their male peers. The gender wage gaps persist in insurance. Female insurance sales agents make 67.6% of what men make in the same role, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Reasons for the pay gap are complex, but it's important for employees to know they are being compensated fairly. When women believe they are being paid less than men for the same work, they are likely to leave.
To ensure equal pay for equal work, agency leaders can conduct a pay audit and make sure they are transparent about how compensation works in the agency.
4) Nearly 90% of female owners and principals say they receive the credibility from peers and staff that they feel they deserve. Many of the women we surveyed felt they had to work harder than their male peers to prove themselves. However, most of them felt their hard work paid off. Those who had been in the industry for a while said they had seen things improve for women in the industry and recommended insurance as a great career path.
“This has been a wonderful career path for me as a woman, a mother and a business owner," said a previous agency owner, “I would recommend agency leadership to anyone of either gender for its flexibility and ability for advancement and recognition based on good sales and management styles."
Want to learn more about empowering women in insurance? Read the full report, “The State of Women in Independent Insurance Agencies."