In 2018, while Oswald Companies celebrated its 125th anniversary, Oswald’s Women’s Leadership Council (WLC) celebrated its 5th anniversary. Having reached all its original goals, the theme of “The Year of Celebration” was fitting and in step with the organization. After five years, WLC has built significant strength in our council’s alumni, current members and new members who bring fresh ideas. Our goal was to reflect on progress made to empower, develop and advance women thus far and work to continue the momentum.
We started off our year with Christina Schmitz being named as a 2018 Distinguished Marketing and Sales Awards (DMSA) honoree. Presented by Sales & Marketing Executives of Cleveland (SME), the DMSA is the profession’s premier honor to acknowledge excellence and provide community recognition for outstanding sales and marketing achievements. Selection criteria is based on the demonstration of the highest business, professional and ethical standards. Christina is Vice President and Director of Marketing Communications and is an alumnus of Oswald’s Women’s Leadership Council. Furthermore, her nominator, Amy Martin, was actually our guest speaker at a fall luncheon we sponsored with PRADCO in late 2017.
Throughout the year, our women market leaders Cathy Kosin and Moira Lyon led record growth and grew our profile in both Detroit and Cincinnati to make Oswald the broker of choice. In addition to record growth, Cathy’s leadership also won the award, “Crain’s Detroit #1 Cool Places to Work.” Moira was one of only 40 insurance leaders nominated by Chubb Insurance to participate in the year-long elite Wharton Executive Program.
In the fall, the WLC hosted an event in Detroit that represented the progress women have made in various industries. Celebrating women who have taken unconventional paths or risen to the C-Suite, the council invited four high-achieving Detroit-area women to share their stories in a forum entitled, “History Impacted by HERstory.” The result was an inspiring discussion of their career paths, the obstacles they encountered, and the continuing battle to close the gender gap.
Following the event, a recap was posted and Cathy Kosin, Oswald’s Detroit Market Leader, experienced thousands of views within a few days. Also, this fall the WLC invited Kelly Keefe, President at ERChealth, to teach the women of Oswald how to be more assertive in the workplace at a forum at Oswald Centre. Kelly shared her insights on this topic and how they should apply specifically to our organization.
Women are collaborating and supporting each other more than ever in various ways. Kim Lucarelli, a WLC alumni, brought together RSM, McDonald Hopkins, PNC bank and Oswald to host an event in December entitled, “Heels and Wingtips.” This fireside chat pooled leaders and emerging leaders in the financial services sector to discuss the unique challenges and opportunities present in this industry.
The tone from the top is critical as diversity would not be possible without it. With the support of Senior Management in the last five years, Oswald has seen first-time female representation on its Board of Directions, our first female advance to the C-Suite as well as our first female Managing Director and Executive Vice President. Correlating with these advancements we have realized record-breaking stock performance and growth in markets that are shrinking. While diversity is the right thing to do, it serves the best interests of stakeholders as well. Looking back, Oswald and Women in general have much to celebrate.
View more from the Women’s Leadership Blog Series.