Aishling Meyler, senior director, software engineering, LexisNexis Risk Solutions, U.K. and Ireland shares some tips to help women climbing the career ladder in technology and insurance.

Aishling MeylerThe demand for women in technology at all levels is increasing, not least in the rapidly changing insurance sector where data and tech has the potential to offer a much more personalised experience to the end customer. Admittedly, insurance may not be the first sector that springs to mind for a woman wanting to pursue a technology career, but this market is transforming and offers great opportunities, particularly for those willing to put their hand up and volunteer to get involved in new projects and initiatives. While progress is being made, there is still some way to go to achieving gender balance.

The year 2022 gave cause for celebration as the Top 50 Financial Times Diversity Leaders included a UK insurance company. A year later though, and the 2023 report is devoid of businesses operating in this field. This may have been one of the reasons why The Association of British Insurers (ABI) recently unveiled a DEI blueprint to attract diverse talent at ground level. There has been progress, in fact the proportion of board members that are women increased from 29% to just 32% last year.

This pace of change is reflected in the financial services sector across Europe. Women account for just over 40% of board seats despite making up half of the appointments made at that level in 2022. In addition, research by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) shows that less than 50% of large firms and fewer than 10% of small firms actually set targets to tackle diversity amongst employees.

Tangible action is what is required and having worked in a data-driven tech role for twenty years, in a highly supportive environment, I know diversity, equality and inclusion is not just about business ethics; it is critical for business growth and success.

Gender diversity doesn’t just introduce diversity of thought. It introduces different lived experiences. That means broader perspectives, fewer assumptions and more empathy for customer needs and what technology will do once it has been released into the real world. After all, all technology can be biased based on the perspective of the technologist creating it.

Women can’t wait around to play catch-up

For the sake of their company’s finances and their own success, women can’t wait for the governing bodies to play catch-up, so what practical advice can we share to help women climb the career ladder now in insurance and technology?

Working for LexisNexis Risk Solutions, I have been fortunate to be involved in a Women in Tech mentoring programme where I will now share one of the best pieces of advice I have ever received in my career which was: ‘put your hand up’. Always volunteer to get involved, even if you’re not entirely confident about the task in question. Taking on responsibility for projects can be career-defining for women in STEM-related industries.  After all, having a gender balance in teams is reflective of the customers we ultimately serve, meaning that products and services will be truly inclusive of all.

It’s your time to shine

Understandably, putting your hand-up for opportunities and voicing your opinion can be daunting when you are new to a role or are perhaps a quieter member of a team.  Demonstrating your interest and views on a project is vital though, as your manager cannot read your mind. Perhaps working remotely has levelled the playing field a little. Without so many face-to-face meetings, we have found that those that may have previously held back have been given more airtime and felt better about volunteering information, so had more opportunity to shine.

It’s also worth remembering that even if you are not a set team within an organisation, showing interest in that team’s work will pay dividends. After all, employees are all working for the good of the company. Any manager worth their salt will recognise and support someone who shows curiosity.

Having a ‘can do’ attitude has served me well in my career. It’s easy to get swayed by job title or money, but in the early days of your career having the confidence that your career progression also means learning via experience can pay massive dividends. I have worked on projects where I thought failure was inevitable but then pulled it back from the brink to become some of my biggest successes.

Being more transparent about opportunity

Finally, if we are to improve gender diversity in the insurance industry, we need to speak more about the opportunities that exist. It’s all too easy to let others dismiss the industry as dull, yet insurance technology is a great career choice because of all the growth potential involved and the flexibility it offers. Think about the way insurance is bought and claimed on and how that has already changed through data and technology. We’re really only at the start of that data transformation. There are always new avenues being exploited. The natural innovation that comes within the technology culture ensures new and exciting paths for achieving career goals.

Ultimately, having confidence in ourselves and the vital job we do can help attract talented women to the industry so that they can build enviable insurance and technology careers, from apprentice level right up to and into the boardroom.