By Sarah Muniz
I’ve been part of the Insurance field since 2001, have heard in conferences from leadership, and have seen numerous articles about the lack of interest millennials and the next generations have in our industry, making it extremely difficult to attract new talent. It’s been concerning to hear this frustration from numerous sources when I’ve experienced a glass ceiling, and I know it keeps talent from being recognized, fostered, and promoted.
One example of hitting a glass ceiling was in a sales producer role that I excelled in. I was the first producer they hired that averaged $65,000 a month consistently, which took my income from $25,000 to over $65,000 in the first year of employment. My sales increased each year as I became more efficient in the position. By the fifth year, I was making over $100,000 a year. I was finally able to earn what I was worth with no ceiling as far as money was concerned.
However, having achieved this level of income, I no longer wanted to focus on earning more income. Instead, I craved more opportunities for career growth and new challenges. I wanted more opportunities to train and teach others how to succeed within this business model.
I was stopped in my tracks quickly and told that I was fortunate to make a six-figure income and that that type of income was typically reserved for executives. This hurt my pride, but I felt I had no choice but to keep moving along since it was the “truth.” The frustrating part was every time they hired a male producer, I’d be asked to train them so that he could become my manager in a few years.
As a result, I decided to research how the Insurance industry could retain and attract new talent. I’ve included all of my findings in the book I wrote (released February 2022) called Undiscovered Voices, along with many other personal stories from numerous women in the insurance industry. It’s extremely interesting to find that insurance doesn’t lack talent, just that talent already in the industry hasn’t been discovered due to gender bias.
According to the Academy of Risk Management and Insurance study, most industries maintain a fairly consistent percentage of male employees who are either in business/career roles or in line for them. In contrast, the majority of female employees hold staff positions. In general, C-level and top management roles are filled from those “inline,” not on staff. This makes it extremely difficult for women to transition to those higher-level positions.
McKinsey and Company identified the top enablers needed so that women have more opportunities to advance into higher levels of leadership. The women that responded identified mentoring by senior leadership to be the top enabler (54%). This was followed by an inclusive corporate culture that supports gender diversity (40%), strong female role models in the organization (32%), and networking opportunities (21%). A quote from the McKinsey survey says, “If the industry is to continue to stand firmly on two feet in the coming years, it would do well to start with its backbone; [women].” 1
The Next Generation
Generation Z is our next up-and-coming generation into the workforce; those born between 1995-2010. This generation is coined “The Influencer Generation”. Members of Gen Z are true digital natives; from their earliest youth, they have been exposed to the internet, social networks, and mobile systems. That context has produced a hyper-cognitive generation very comfortable with collecting and cross-referencing many sources of information and with integrating virtual and offline experiences.
As global connectivity soars, this generational shift could play a more important role in setting behavior than socioeconomic differences. Young people have become a potent influence on people of all ages and incomes, as well as on the way those people consume. Core Gen Z behaviors are all anchored in one element: this generation’s search for truth. Gen Zers value individual expression and avoid labels. According to Deloitte, 52% of Generation Z and 57% of Millennials say a positive culture is very important when selecting a workplace.2
Call to Action
Let’s show Generation Z that the insurance industry is where they have the most opportunity for growth. My goal is to prove that insurance needs to not only attract women into our industry but to give those in our industry the same opportunity to rise to the top that male peers have based on talent and skill set. If we open the capacity for more women to thrive in our industry, then our current lack of talent will become a thing of the past, and we’ll pave a bright future. We’ll only accomplish this mission if we work together.
https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/consumer-packaged-goods/our-insights/true-gen-generation-z-and-its-impli cations-for-companies https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/moving-women-to-the-to p-mckinsey-global-survey-results
This post was written by Sarah Muniz a board member and supporter of Insure Equality. Her book Undiscovered Voices is on our Resources page. Check out Sarah’s book and many others that contribute to change!