There’s no doubt that equal opportunities for both men and women have improved over the last few decades. However, if recent Catalyst research is anything to go by, there is certainly some way to go.

Catalyst found that women currently hold only 4.8 per cent of CEO roles in Fortune 500 companies, despite being being a more than significant proportion of the workforce.

Showing what a missed opportunity this is to big business, a 2011 study by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman suggests that women may in fact be better for leadership roles than men.

The research, based on a study of 7,280 leaders, finds that women scored highest when it came to showing desirable competencies in leadership roles. In fact, the women in the study out-scored men in all but one of the 16 key competencies.

As Zenger and Folkman said at the time: “Two of the traits where women outscored men to the highest degree – taking initiative and driving for results – have long been thought of as particularly male strengths.”

Benefiting insurance

The Zenger and Folkman study also showed that women scored better on traits that are particularly suited to insurance employees – such as building relationships, solving problems and analysing issues.

The insurance industry is all set to benefit from women in management roles – just look at Gemma Gould’s impressive progression of her brokerage career. By dealing with individuals on their personal or business insurance needs, a similar balance of genders gives insurance companies a well rounded perspective of their needs. This means combined staff are better prepared with the broad knowledge-set needed to traverse the varied and complex insurance landscape – from manufacturing insurance to professional indemnity.

Recent releases by the government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) show that, although around half of the insurance employment landscape is female, only 32 per cent of management roles are occupied by women.

We are expecting to see that figure climb very soon.