22 \\\\\ THE CHANGE AGENDA
Industry leader and Insurance Supper Club
founder Barbara Schönhofer explains why, after
40 years of the idea of equality, now is the time to
grasp the nettle of change.
am a huge supporter of a more inclusive society which
allows individuals to reach their full potential and
contribute to the public purse.
As a free thinker, with a passion for supporting
positive culture change in the insurance industry, I set out 40 years
ago to better understand the complexities of what it takes to change
thinking and action in a sector that is complacent.
I experienced this culture during 18 years in retail financial services
in the building society sector as a business thought leader. Throughout
my 25 years in executive search for the international insurance markets
I challenged normal practices and saw the need, over a decade ago, to
look at hiring and promoting differently to bring about change.
The first step was to bring together the female business leaders
and influencers in the London Market before branching out to create
an international community of women in insurance operations at
C-suite and board levels. More recently I’ve welcomed aspiring female
leaders to the network from across the industry.
In terms of advice, I’d encourage women to be determined, resilient
and resourceful throughout their career. One way to do this is by
having female and male mentors to help navigate situations and
sponsors willing to promote you to their peer group.
Networking is vital to market who you are and what you
represent, also known as your brand values. Understand your
own potential, add value where you can and have a career strategy
and plan. As individuals, women benefit if there is a strong code
of conduct that they will not compromise when dealing with any
form of harassment.
The industry is in a period of intense uncertainty. This offers
opportunity for change. However, sustainable change is linked to
profitability and with innovation comes risk, and the insurance
industry is, by its nature, risk-averse.
The challenge is attracting and retaining complementary
skills and talent to the industry in order to embrace change and
bring fresh ideas while retaining the core professional values of
Looking to the future, we are moving towards a new style of
leadership focused on commercial reality of an overcapitalised
market. As the industry modernises and streamlines and looks at
Diversity and Inclusion Report 2019 www.intelligentinsurer.com