Woman’s Day (Australia)
A WOMAN’S WORK
This International Women’s day, Stella Insurance founder and CEO Sam White reflects on her journey, and the hard work still to be done.
When it comes to gender equality, Stella founder and CEO Sam White pursues progress all year round. While International Women’s Day raises awareness and highlights the inequalities that exist for women, there needs to be committed work and impact on the other 364 days of the year, too.
“My first job out of university was working in insurance, a sector that traditionally has been incredibly male-dominated,” she reveals. “As a young female, it wasn’t a rare occurrence in the workplace for me to be reduced to my gender and my abilities underestimated, despite being one of the top performers.”
Realising the insurance sector was not only dominated by men, but also built for male customers, Sam was determined to carve out a revolutionary new space and provide something different.
Even then, the inequality was rife: “I couldn’t even get the bank to give me an overdraft without my dad attending the meeting with me, despite the business being profitable and having a solid development plan. I vividly remember the bank manager looking over at Dad and saying, ‘Now I see the power behind the throne.’”
A NEW LEADERSHIP STYLE
In 2023, leadership in business means moving beyond the masculine mindset and behaviours that have often defined the past – especially as women like Sam bring their own definitions of power to bear, focusing on empathy and compassion. “For me, power is the ability to move thinking away from considering market sizes and customer profiles, and starting to think about the human beings who sit behind those numbers,” she explains.
Beyond the core mission of providing insurance specifically designed for women’s needs, there are a number of initiatives Stella has committed to. Every new comprehensive car insurance policy provides $5 to the Women’s and Girls’ Emergency Centre (so far this financial year, more than $70,000 has been donated). And Stella have also partnered with Her Heart, Australia’s only NFP focused on the prevention of women’s heart disease.
“Launching Stella – a financial services business designed around women, from both a product engagement and community basis – was the best way I could align my human desire for purpose and connection with solving a very real business opportunity,” Sam says.