Parenting had a dramatic impact on my insurance career. 23 years ago when I stepped out of the insurance market to have my children I had little option. It was clear to me from all the comments, and all the women who left under the radar before me, that pregnancy and the insurance world were not compatible. In recent years coaching women in insurance I have seen huge change, but I am wondering are we paying lip service to being in an equitable business or are things really changing?

Embrace parenting

Over the last few weeks I have met four pregnant women in the London insurance market, all of whom were embarrassed by their pregnancy. The saddest part for me was they were discussing minimum leave and wanting to be back in the business in under 6 weeks out of fear of not being in the business, and also anxious that they would be putting a temporary halt on their career.

I have also had many discussions with men, who are still finding it odd that their junior male staff are taking extended parental leave after they have children. Really??? It is in their contract, let us make this our normal expectation that parent leave is taken up. We all need to work on making it the norm that men are enjoying family life and taking shared responsibility of childcare and life at home. This is equality and we all need to start to embrace it.

We can support you to work and have children

Having children is the biggest gift you will ever experience, don’t let your role at work marginalise this. I am fed up of hearing its a lie you can’t have it all. Well I am here to say you can have it all, your expectation of doing everything at 100% all the time is not realistic but a comfortable work/life balance is achievable with the right mindset and with a good employer. I talk to companies all the time about this and a friend who is CMO at a large bank last week acknowledged it will be tough, she said “women need to tackle the patriarchal structures and not bend to them”.

This conversation makes us all feel uncomfortable and I can feel you all cringing at this point….

We all know we have to change the narrative. Let’s face it insurance is in a crisis point, for years and years women have chosen to leave the market. This has created a lack of equality over the age of 35, too many women are changing careers at this point. We all thought women had just not grown into the roles yet, but women are still leaving. When I ask around my colleagues and friends in C level positions I am always told “there is no silver bullet”. I am sorry this is not so, you can work in insurance and have children whilst you advance your career. Parenthood doesn’t have to impact your career , we can’t continue to watch great women leave the insurance industry. We have to get this right and change has to happen now.

How can we help?

I have a clear process that starts with confidence of who you are and what you do. Recognises what works for you within the parameters of the business and home, and gives you the support you need to have a successful parent leave. This process also empowers a return to the business that recognises that parenting improves your management skills and qualifies you for commensurate acceleration in your career.

What is success?

It sounds over simplified but the first step is confidence of who you are and what you do. We get dragged into what is expected of us and don’t spend enough time truly understanding ourselves and recognising what success looks like. Success to me is not just the salary and job title but includes (amongst other things) work life balance, feeling validated at work and home, nurturing relationships (family, friends, and business relationships) , worthwhile holidays, job satisfaction and long term financial stability.

So the first step is confidence of what success looks like to you as it is different for everyone and for the next steps on this journey let’s meet in the City for a chat. Let’s change this together in 2024 and make sure that 2030 is on target for real equality in the Lloyds insurance market.

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