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‘I did not tick a whole lot of bins’ – EY international head on the leap to insurance coverage

‘I did not tick a whole lot of bins’ – EY international head on the leap to insurance coverage | Insurance coverage Enterprise America

For Isabelle Santenac, insurance coverage is much less inclusive than different monetary industries

'I didn't tick a lot of boxes' – EY global head on the leap to insurance

Variety & Inclusion


Climbing the ranks in insurance coverage management could be difficult sufficient for knowledgeable girls professionals. However what about girls crossing over from different industries?

That was the state of affairs Isabelle Santenac (pictured) discovered herself in a number of years in the past. Now EY’s international insurance coverage chief, she spent many years within the banking sector earlier than making the shift.

Nevertheless it wasn’t a clean touchdown for her in insurance coverage, as she advised Insurance coverage Enterprise.

“Thirty-five (35) years in the past, after I began my profession, it was even much less frequent to have feminine leaders in any group,” Santenac mentioned.

Transferring from one male-dominated discipline to a different, she admitted feeling judged on two fronts: being a lady and never having an insurance coverage background.

“I keep in mind the reactions of individuals I used to be proposed to steer. One in every of our greatest insurance coverage accounts mentioned, ‘How is she going to try this? She’s not a pure insurance coverage specialist,’” she recalled.

“I feel it was a mix of me being not an important knowledgeable on this enterprise, however perhaps additionally being a lady. I did not tick a whole lot of bins.”

Want for ‘deep experience’ fostering gender imbalance?

Santenac initially specialised in monetary providers, working with massive organizations below EY, one of many world’s largest consulting corporations.

Right this moment, she leads greater than 23,000 professionals offering auditing, consulting, tax, and assurance providers to insurers worldwide.

Reflecting on her experiences, the EY head mentioned there’s nonetheless an extended solution to go to shift gender imbalances and biases in insurance coverage.

“I feel insurance coverage is even much less inclusive than different companies in a method,” she mentioned. “It’s a bit just like the banking trade, particularly funding banking, the place you want deep experience.”

Insurance coverage, like different monetary industries, are fields with extremely technical professions that historically don’t entice a whole lot of girls, Santenac mentioned.

Gender imbalances on the recruitment stage make it much more troublesome for organizations to realize parity on the prime ranges. International analysis by Swiss Re Institute has discovered that ladies represented roughly one-fifth of insurance coverage and reinsurance executives in 2019, and solely 10% of CEOs.

However Santenac believes the insurance coverage trade has come a great distance since her personal beginnings.

“It takes time to vary. The nice factor is which can be increasingly more girls taking management roles within the insurance coverage trade. Many conventional insurance coverage roles at the moment are taken additionally by girls,” she mentioned. “That reveals issues are progressing. However for any firm, there’s nonetheless lots to do.”

Obstacles stay for ladies leaders

A proud mom of three, Santenac acknowledged there are nonetheless many structural limitations for ladies within the insurance coverage trade. Balancing work and residential life remains to be one of many key themes in range and inclusion conversations.

“Combining your private life, doubtlessly with kids, and your work life is difficult anyway. It turns into much more difficult in international locations the place there’s much less help for [caring for] younger kids,” she mentioned.

Due to her supportive accomplice and household, Santenac was in a position to hurdle a number of the hardest elements of being a working mom. However she admitted that different girls won’t be as fortunate.

“I am shocked and generally shocked when girls whom I mentor or work with, say ‘I’m questioning when the correct time to have a toddler is. Perhaps I ought to wait till I’m at a sure level in my profession,’” she mentioned.

“It’s troublesome to listen to however I perceive why some girls are hesitating. We nonetheless have lots to do inside our organizations to help girls who need to have kids, in order that they don’t really feel like they are going to be put apart for promotions or lose time of their careers.”

Taking a threat on girls

What’s one concrete motion insurance coverage executives can take to advertise gender equality in management roles?

Problem gender biases and take a threat on girls, mentioned Santenac.

She mentioned: “[Male leaders think] ‘Why ought to I choose the feminine for the position quite than the male who appears like me?’ I feel there’s nonetheless an unconscious bias in terms of choosing leaders.

“Perhaps she is ticking much less bins as a result of she’s not behaving like a male. However that’s excellent as a result of that is what we’d like if we wish numerous groups.

“I feel that you must drive your self as a pacesetter to make some decisions and say, ‘OK, I will appoint this feminine,” Santenac mentioned.

“Perhaps proper now, I am not completely positive she’s prepared, however I am positive she will reveal she might be a great chief. Typically it’s important to drive your self to take a threat.”

Do you agree with Santenac’s sentiments about gender inclusivity in insurance coverage? Hold forth within the feedback under.



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