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Women in Insurance: Changing the Landscape of Leadership

September 18, 2019
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As Oswald has evolved over years of taking care of our employees and clients, it was evident to me – at the turn of this decade – that the landscape was changing.

Clients, our team, the community; they were becoming more diverse. Diverse in the way they interact, diverse in the way they think, diverse in the way they look and feel. While our clients and employees were changing, leadership within retail brokers, not only Oswald, was falling behind.

It was time to act. We came together to launch a multi-faceted strategy to change the way we look, feel, and think at the highest level.

First, we determined our board needed a female executive to challenge us in new ways. A search began and we gratefully landed with Jan Tomlinson, a highly recommended retired executive of Chubb Insurance Company.

Secondly, we formed Taylor Oswald to develop a path for minorities to establish their insurance careers in a meaningful and rewarding career path. Eddie Taylor, an established civic leader in NE Ohio, was just the person to lead this exciting endeavor.  Today, together Oswald and Taylor Oswald continue to remove the barriers for employees and clients in maximizing the opportunities in the risk and insurance industry.

Additionally, in 2013, we determined that while we had a significant female population working at Oswald, we needed to do a better job of creating and carving paths for women in senior leadership roles.

One of the greatest wins in my tenure here has been forming the WLC, The Oswald Women’s Leadership Council. The goals are centered in giving women a place to mentor each other, to develop their leadership skills, to feel connected in ways they hadn’t previously.

It has been incredibly rewarding to see the development of our women into executive leadership roles. Today, 30 percent of our senior leadership team is female, and the sky is the limit. Not only have our programs elevated our women leaders but we’ve also drawn the attention of top women talent in our industry to join and grow their leadership careers here.

While diversity, inclusion and leadership development remain critical to Oswald’s strategic growth plan, even more meaningful will be the collective actions in our industry.

Our results are getting considerable recognition across the insurance marketplace. Earlier in 2019 I received a call from a Fortune 500 public company in our industry asking how we formed the Women’s Leadership Council, and what experiences and results has the firm seen as it’s grown.

I thought to myself, “you’re six years behind us…but good luck,” but of course I graciously answered their questions, and I am hopeful they can emulate our results within a short time frame. It’s the kind of fire we need to catch on throughout our industry – it’s critical to our succession, perpetuation and continuing to see a global view of risk for clients.

Overall, I am incredibly proud to see Oswald in the national attention for our team’s commitment to leadership diversity. While we have considerable work to do yet, I hope our clients and employees appreciate our drive to continue to be best at what we do, and example in the field.

View more from the Women’s Leadership Blog Series.