Solving the Insurance Industry’s Talent Shortage Issue

Talent Shortage

I’ve been part of the insurance field since 2001 and have heard and seen numerous articles about the lack of interest millennials and the next generation have in our industry, making it extremely difficult to attract new talent. So I decided to do some research on how the insurance industry could retain and attract new talent.

It’s extremely interesting to find that insurance doesn’t have a lack of talent, just that talent already in the industry hasn’t truly been discovered due to gender bias. I’d like to share my research with you and a fix to our talent shortage.

According to the Women in the Workplace study,  most industries maintain a fairly consistent percentage of male employees who are either in business/career roles or in line for them, while the majority of female employees hold the staff positions. In general, C-level and top management roles are filled from those “in line,” not on staff. This makes it extremely difficult for women to transition to those higher-level positions. Also of concern is the Bureau of Labor Statistics report that women in the insurance industry earn .62 per dollar earned by men. This is lower than the 1951 average of .64 per dollar earned by women in other industries.

A McKinsey & Company study  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; females.”

Forbes identified the fastest growing segment of start-up companies are female owned businesses. Many of these women are starting their own businesses in order to gain financial independence, break free of social constraints, and have more control and influence over their own lives. In 2019 a record amount of venture capital has been raised by female-founded startups in the United States. Black women represent 42% of new women owned businesses, according to American Express 2019 State Women-Owned Businesses. Pam Kostka CEO at All Raise stated, “We have better outcomes when the funders and founders are reflective of the markets they serve.”  This is the very definition of power and independence. Self-employment also reduces workplace harassment and the inability to decide her own future. The danger to the insurance industry is losing this wellspring of talent simply by not recognizing their abilities and contributions by not moving them up to higher level positions.

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 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 McKinsey & Company, 52% of Generation Z and 57% of Millennials say a positive culture is very important when selecting a workplace.

Let’s show Generation Z females 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 females into our industry, but also to give the females already in our industry the same opportunity to rise to the top that male peers have based on talent and skill set. If we open capacity for more females to thrive in our industry, then our current lack of talent will become a thing of the past, and we’ll pave the way to a bright future. We’ll only accomplish this mission if we work together.

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