The insurance industry is historically male-dominated. According to a 2017 report by Credit Suisse, only 12% of women in the industry are in top management positions. But not at Eastern Insurance. Two-thirds of our staff is female and 62% of employees in management positions are women.
The women at Eastern Insurance are making waves in the industry. In this post, we’re spotlighting a few members of our leadership team who have blazed the trail for other women in insurance. Read more to hear their stories and advice on working in the insurance industry.
A Beacon of Hope for Women in Insurance
Hope Aldrich, President and CEO of Eastern Insurance, began her career in insurance as the first female commercial sales representative at Liberty Mutual. At the time they were not quite prepared for her to win the highest sales designation, and in her first year, they handed her a tie tack, which she gratefully accepted at the awards ceremony. Hope realized the opportunity to lead the way for women in the insurance industry and went on to become the first female Division Sales Manager at Liberty Mutual.
She was later recruited by AON where she served as Chief Business Officer in New England for several years. She left AON to become President and CEO of Allied American Insurance which was acquired by Eastern Bank in 2002. Under her leadership, Eastern Insurance has grown from $6 million in revenue in 1997 to $85 million in revenue today.
Eastern Insurance now employs more than 400 professionals and has 23 offices throughout Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. Eastern Insurance is currently the 35th largest P&C Insurance Broker in the country and of those 35, Eastern is the only agency with a female CEO.
Hard Work Gets You Ahead
Meg Hartley is the Senior Vice President and Operations Director at Eastern Insurance. She has been with the agency for 20 years and started her career in insurance in 1984 at Plymouth Rock Assurance Corporation. As Operations Director, Meg has senior management responsibility for the operations and facilities management of our 23 insurance locations. Meg also oversees corporate marketing and corporate training for Eastern Insurance and works closely with Eastern Bank’s Compliance and Technology teams.
We asked Meg what it’s like working as a woman in the insurance industry, and this is what she had to say: “I believe that if If you don’t mind working hard, doing your best, are willing to take on new tasks and are genuine, then you will be successful and respected regardless of your gender. If your efforts show up in your work, then you’ll have a successful career in the industry.”
Meg also shared her advice for women who are interested in joining the insurance industry: “If someone is considering a career in insurance, they should absolutely go for it! There are so many facets to the industry now that didn’t exist when I first started. We didn’t have the technology then that we have now and there are many different career opportunities available because of it. The methods of selling and servicing policies, marketing, communications and more, has evolved. At Eastern Insurance, we have strong women in all of our departments, including technology, sales and sales support, customer service and various leadership roles.”
For women starting their careers, Meg says they should “ask a lot of questions and don’t be afraid to be heard. Just be genuine. You don’t have to act a certain way to be successful; being yourself will go a long way in your career.”
Make Your Voice Heard
Nina Terenzi is the Assistant Vice President of Corporate Communications at Eastern Insurance and has worked in the insurance industry for more than 20 years.
Nina shared what it’s like working as a woman in the insurance industry: “I’ve certainly had to learn how to step outside of my comfort zone. It can be intimidating as a woman to express your ideas when you don’t feel like the strongest voice in the room. Always speak up. Making your voice heard is the key to success in this industry and in any industry.”
We asked if she had advice for women interested in entering the insurance industry: “Be open to whatever you’re going to find in front of you and go after it. Extend yourself outside of your job description to provide help, advice, and direction to your colleagues. Making yourself available is a good way to start building trust at your company and becoming the go-to person.”
Nina also shared her advice for young women starting their careers: “Finding a mentor is very important to your career. Don’t be afraid to seek one out and to build that relationship. You will learn a great deal from each other’s experiences”
Stand Up For Yourself and Know Your Value
Colleen Doherty is the Senior Vice President of Eastern Benefits Group and has been working in the industry for more than 30 years. She is responsible for overall client services and customer satisfaction as well as compliance, education, and training for employers and internal staff.
Colleen shared with us her experience working in the industry: “I built my career with a combination of human resources and insurance experience. Human resources has always been predominantly female, but the insurance side was more dominated by men when I entered the field. When I started, women mostly held support roles. But that has changed significantly and for the better over time.”
Even though Colleen has had a positive experience, she has encountered push-back during her career. She said, “I’ve been told I’m too demanding and that I need to ‘tone it back a bit.’ Over the past 15 years at Eastern Benefits Group, I’ve been blessed to work with some amazing leaders and mentors. And while I’m grateful to the women who have helped me along the way, it’s important to recognize that many of the people who have pushed me forward have actually been men. I’ve found success by working hard and by aligning myself with people who support me and recognize my efforts.”
Colleen also shared her advice for women who are interested in joining the industry: “This applies to all industries — don’t modulate your behavior just because you feel uncomfortable to speak up. You should never step back because you feel uncomfortable or think you shouldn’t say something because you’re a woman. Stand up for yourself, prove yourself, and help people whenever you can. As for the insurance industry, get as much education as you can. You have to be genuinely curious and interested in your work. The industry is constantly changing and you have to keep up.”
For women starting their careers, Colleen shared this advice: “Know your value. Learn how to negotiate and make waves, in a professional way, to get ahead in your career. If you start strong, you’ll only do better and get further ahead in the long run. Try to help your manager shine. Hopefully, they will reciprocate. If not, then you know you are in the wrong place.”
Do you have any advice about working in the insurance industry as a woman? We’d love to hear it in the comments below!