By Rekha Schipper Skantharaja, CEO
I recently had the privilege of chairing a conference for women in insurance. The room was filled with female executives, emerging leaders and high potential performers.
The agenda was interesting but somewhat familiar. The topics ran from career advancement to the role of unconscious bias, sexual harassment in today’s environment and the ever present “who do women need to be to lead?”
Undeniably, there was important discourse and debate, powerful connectivity and the collective encouragement that there are many of us on this journey reaching for something greater.
But as I listened to the content throughout the day, I was struck by how myopic this conversation has become. A room full of women examining how we can navigate the rules set by men. And not just men, but a particular subset of men.
Discussions and debate danced around the central questions of: How we can appear more reasonable when asking for what we want? And how we should walk the tightrope of sexual harassment so we don’t offend the wildlife in their natural habitats?
I started to realize, perhaps more than ever before, that none of these same topics would ever be presented at a conference for male leadership. I’m pretty sure men aren’t exploring unconscious bias (at least as frequently as women do), talking about toning down aggression and maintaining humility and vulnerability. And I’d bet money that most of the rooms with a majority of men don’t have this topic on deck: “How can we stop harassing women and hold each other to a higher standard?”
While we continue to talk about being more assertive but also tactful, confident but also competent – the men are deal making, trading inside knowledge on talent and technology and gaining access to capital and attractive investment opportunities. So why aren’t we relentlessly focused on the same?
We must be developing a more robust pipeline of female founders, female executives and female board directors. It is critical for more of us to be in the most influential seats to affect massive cultural transformation. And if this is our plan, then let’s utilize the women’s conference platform to harness the enormous intellectual horsepower and inject rocket fuel into the women who are going places.
We all look forward to the day where we don’t need female conferences or diversity forums. When the topography of the business landscape has arrived somewhere more productive and evolved. And we can all get on with the business of utilizing our shared humanity to create, innovate and communicate.
Until then, let’s not lose sight of building the skills, making the connections and breaking the rules that will help us change the game.
About Tangram Insurance Services
Located across the Golden Gate Bridge, just outside of San Francisco, Tangram is a full-service Managing General Underwriter and Program Manager offering specialty programs. We focus on industry-relevant coverage, competitive pricing, and practical business and risk management solutions for your clients. Since we are not all things to all people, we make sure to create outstanding custom-built solutions that matter to those businesses, and the brokers who serve those industries. Contact us at (888) 744-9810.