In the spirit of International Women’s Day, we’ve searched near and far to bring encouraging stories, female victories, and a woman’s perspective on the workplace. As we dug around, the theme of working remotely showed up quite a bit – specifically in insurance.

On the plus side

Insurance Business magazine interviewed four women in different roles, who all work from home, to gather their input on the matter¹. Some of the mentioned benefits of telecommuting were flexibility, the opportunity to be present at home, and even the ability to care for elderly parents. It’s no surprise that women are typically the ones who manage the day-to-day of the household, so being able to cut commute times and stay home with kids who aren’t feeling well is a luxury that not every workplace offers.

A double-edged sword?

The birth of telecommuting also allows women (and men) to communicate with clients without them even knowing that they aren’t in the office. The possible downside? With the convenience of always being connected comes the expectation that women are even more available. The warning here is that women don’t add working 24/7 to their list of duties, but rather see telecommuting as a way of making their lives a little bit easier.

Top talent please!

Additionally, companies should consider the importance of offering women the option to work from home not only to attract top talent, but for the purposes of retention as well.

The insurance industry, like many others, is experiencing gaps in strong female talent when it comes to intermediate level positions. Although women are well represented at the junior and executive levels, there seems to be a significant dip in the middle. Admittedly, some of this is attributed to women who have decided to blaze their own trail and start a business, but the lack of a flexible work environment is also a major factor².

Encouraging ambition

Interestingly enough, offering the perk of telecommuting to women is of greater significance than when offered to men. Surveys have shown that when given flexible options, the female response is quite different than that of males. The numbers are saying that women who are given the opportunity to telecommute are much more ambitious compared to women in more stringent work environments – whereas men in either scenario were hardly phased³. The other downside? Research has also shown that those who spend more time at the office are more likely to get a promotion. Meaning that women who are working from home may have higher aspirations with little reward.

So, the age-old question remains...

How can we make gender parity a reality in our workforces? Although salaries are increasing and women are gaining a presence in higher level positions, another challenge is presenting itself. Namely, how can we accommodate the quintessential working momma bear, who’s got toys all over the place, parents to take care of, dinners to be made, and bills to be paid? The option of telecommuting without penalty is a good place to start – enabling women to successfully take on their many different roles without losing their shot at climbing the corporate ladder.

¹Women reflect on remote working. Insurance Business. Retrieved on Friday, March 15, 2019 from https://www.insurancebusinessmag.com/ca/women-in-insurance/women-reflect-on-remote-working-160680.aspx

²Sharon Ludlow: Insurance industry must improve the female talent pipeline. Insurance Business. Retrieved on Friday, March 15, 2019 from https://www.insurancebusinessmag.com/ca/news/breaking-news/sharon-ludlow-insurance-industry-must-improve-the-female-talent-pipeline-159746.aspx

³Does Telecommuting Make Women More Ambitious? US News & World Report. Retrieved on Monday, March 18, 2019 from https://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2013/07/26/does-telecommuting-make-women-more-ambitious