Celebrating International Women’s Day

Lee-Ann du Toit

National Lead and Partner: Insurance Sector (Deloitte) and Vice-President: New Zealand Society of Actuaries

 

I have a personal passion to ensure we celebrate and embrace our differences, but even more so, ensure we authentically behave in an inclusive way in business, our personal lives and just in general.

Inclusion and Diversity isn’t only the right thing to do, it is a business imperative – I have seen how you can unlock so much more through a diverse team than with a single minded, similar looking and thinking group of people.

As the Insurance Sector lead for Deloitte, it has been my honor to lead a talented and diverse team of professionals across the country. This includes not only a much higher proportion of women, compared to 2 decades ago, but also immigrants from all over the world, different types of skillsets including technology experts, lawyers, accountants, actuaries, strategists, and marketers.

New Zealand has amazing female leaders in the Insurance industry, with incredible stories to tell. I recently chaired the Women in Insurance Summit in Auckland, with over 150 senior leaders, mostly women in attendance. Their stories were incredible, humbling and inspiring! I could not have imagined having a conference like this, with women operating at this level in Financial Services, almost 30 years ago when I started my career. We have come a long way, and the industry is better off as a result. This also opens the door for young females to join the insurance industry: “You can be what you can see!”

As an employer, I believe it is critical to ensure all barriers are removed to ensure women (and actually anyone from a diverse background) have equal opportunity to build a career and make an impact. The gender pay gap is a real issue that we need to actively focus on by regularly measuring and tracking progress in this regard. I encourage employers to publicly disclose progress towards reducing the gender pay gap and share what activities are driving this reduction. For example, we need to do more to integrate women back into the workplace once they return from parental leave. This will include fast-tracking and strong sponsorship / mentorship support to ensure they stay on track with their peers in their careers, even after a short career break.

As Vice-President of the NZSA, and soon to be President, I would like to support a more inclusive and diverse actuarial society in New Zealand. We should ensure we attract and retain a more diverse actuarial profession and also include everyone’s perspectives that have value to add and not just a select few. Actuaries have significant value to add in Aotearoa, increasingly so especially given the impact of climate change and how we respond, both in the Private and Public Sector. 

My favourite quote is an old one from Steve Jobs that I have used as my career motto all my life. It also supports how we can enable a more inclusive and diverse Aotearoa – anything is possible if you believe it:

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… The ones who see things differently – they’re not fond of rules. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the one thing you can’t do is ignore them, because they change things… Because the ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do. Think different.”

Author

AUPTON