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Courage calls to courage everywhere

Stephanie Hydon, Head of National Accounts, iPipeline UK

As I drive through the streets of Cheltenham considering my upcoming article on women in the protection industry, I am feeling distinctly optimistic. I have just got off the phone to my Distribution Director (hands free of course), who is a woman, I am now listening to our prime minster on the radio, a woman, who is interrupted only by the sound of my Sat-Nav – a woman’s voice. I am left with a feeling that, in the UK at least, women are every bit as equal as men.

My sanguinity is instantly shattered as I arrive at the industry event I was traveling to and I am greeted by a room that is 80% male and a panel discussion that is 100% male. Every CEO I meet at the event (apologies ladies if I missed you) is male, and the boards of almost every company represented are, you guessed it, dominated by men. 

Now I don’t want anyone to panic and think that I am about to set fire to my brassiere. However, I’m left with two questions; do women really have the same opportunities as men and are our female clients really catered for?

Are our female clients really catered for?

The industry is moving towards ever greater personalisation of products with products catered to specific medical conditions, or healthy living. Yet with this said, not all women are catered for and this is clearly demonstrated in Canada Life’s research, uncovering 57% of women surveyed did not have protection in place.

A report produced by Insuring Women’s Futures shows that 34% of women in their 30s say their money wouldn’t last a month if they lost their main source of income. Our research shows that despite women who equally have salaries, who are parents and carers as well, there is large split in comparison to men when it comes to short term Income Protection – only 35% of policies being written for females compared to 65% for males. While this remains the same for 1 and 2-year policies, the number falls to a mere 31% when looking at five-year plans

I believe there is a wider issue of incorporating personalisation within this gender, and by truly understanding this underserved segment, we can make meaningful changes.

 ‘Robbing Peter to pay Paula’ - Do women really have the same opportunities as men?

I have been reading an interesting paper recently by Tom Schuller on the Paula Principle which highlights the 5 main constraints which explain why women are more likely to not reach their full potential, despite outperforming boys at school and beyond.

One of the principles – the ‘vertical network’ – is a particularly intriguing one; women know fewer women in high-level jobs.

The Women in Protection Network seeks to challenge this. Founded last year, this network inspires women in our industry to seek senior roles. At the last meeting, it was refreshing to see executive and ambitious females around a table, networking and looking to enhance our industry to meet the needs of modern females.

Further to this, our industry has taken great strides this year in recognising women in senior roles as well as rising stars. I was delighted to attend the inaugural Women in Finance Advice awards this year. The evening was a huge success, despite the fact that it was the first awards evening I had to queue for the loo. It was inspiring to see so many of my role models being recognised and get a chance to meet some new ones.

Schuller ends his article stating that “Changing this will not be robbing Peter [men] to pay Paula [women], but a step towards both greater equity and more efficiency”. I believe that as an industry, if we look to foster and promote groups like Women in Protection and look to personalise our product offering and with women promoting to women, we will develop greater equality and efficiency in reducing the Protection Gap.

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