Edi­tor’s Note: Open up your eyes One of the rea­sons there con­tin­ues to be a lack of women in top ex­ec­u­tive po­si­tions in in­sur­ance and else­where is be­cause they are less vis­i­ble than their male coun­ter­parts while on the rise.

Digital Insurance - - CONTENTS - —Nathan Go­lia

Ven­ture cap­i­tal isn’t some­thing I thought about much in my nearly 10 years cov­er­ing in­sur­ance tech­nol­ogy and in­no­va­tion. But it’s top-of-mind now, as the in­surtech move­ment brings the in­sur­ance and startup com­mu­ni­ties ever closer to­gether, per­haps per­ma­nently. Af­ter the Dig | In: The Dig­i­tal Fu­ture of In­sur­ance con­fer­ence ear­lier this year, I had a con­ver­sa­tion with a woman who told me some­thing re­mark­able: Less than 3% of ven­ture-cap­i­tal in­vest­ment goes to women-owned firms. As I sat in my Uber to the air­port later that day, I pon­dered the sig­nif­i­cance of that fact. That means that, on av­er­age, only three in 100 com­pa­nies that get fund­ing are women-owned. Yes, women are un­der-rep­re­sented among com­pany lead­ers over­all — a fact that the Women in In­sur­ance Lead­er­ship pro­gram has been work­ing to rec­tify go­ing back years be­fore my ap­point­ment to this po­si­tion — but cer­tainly it wasn’t that low. My wife owns her own startup. Ear­lier this year, they were named to the Inc. 500 list of the fastest-grow­ing com­pa­nies in Amer­ica. She was par­tic­u­larly proud of be­ing one of only 12% of these firms that is women-owned. I was im­mensely proud of and hum­bled by her ac­com­plish­ment. But it got me think­ing: 12 is still more than three. The gulf be­came more ap­par­ent. So I did some re­search and re­port­ing, which you can find on page 18 of this is­sue. I learned a lot from speak­ing to women founders, aca­demics, ven­ture and in­no­va­tion ex­perts, and it can’t be con­densed to this space. How­ever, there was one item in par­tic­u­lar that stuck out to me: Ac­cord­ing to an EY study, more than 40% of men think the rea­son there aren’t more women at higher lev­els of busi­ness is be­cause of a lack of can­di­dates. Only 7% of women agree. The same study re­ported that women only make up about 10% of the high-level po­si­tions at in­sur­ance com­pa­nies, de­spite be­ing more than half the work­force. This speaks to a ma­jor com­po­nent of the gulf: vis­i­bil­ity. As long as men clus­ter around other men, and women are rare within busi­ness net­works, it’s hard for the ex­em­plary fe­male can­di­dates to be iden­ti­fied — whether its for a C-level po­si­tion in the en­ter­prise or when com­pet­ing for pre­cious startup fund­ing. To be clear, there is noth­ing wrong with form­ing a net­work based on sim­i­lar in­ter­ests or ex­pe­ri­ences. It’s nat­u­ral. But get­ting out of your com­fort zone is the first step to­ward mak­ing an en­vi­ron­ment that’s more wel­com­ing to a di­verse group of lead­ers. Let’s all make an ef­fort to reach out to some­one dif­fer­ent from us and see if they might have an idea that could re­ally change how this busi­ness works. Stud­ies show men don’t see as many qual­i­fied women for lead­er­ship as likely ex­ist. It’s time to change that.

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