I hope 2024 is off to a great start. January is a time when companies are finalizing and reporting out on year-end results, thanking colleagues and clients, and laying the groundwork for executing on 2024 initiatives and priorities. I am sure that many, if not all of you, include Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives as part of those plans.
DEI has been a topic garnering quite a bit of attention in the media, especially in light of what is happening in our current affairs – at schools and universities, at state and local levels, and due to wars overseas, the conflicts of which have spilled over onto our shores. While the topic of DEI overall is witnessing national conversations that reference terms like over-reach, costly programs, and unfairness to other groups, we run the risk of stepping backwards and losing a lot of the progress and opportunities that have occurred for women and other marginalized groups. These discussions and viewpoints are important. And we should remember not to get pulled down into specific issues and step back to ensure that we’re focused on the broader goals and longer-term benefits that the DEI frameworks provide. The “I” of DEI – Inclusion – is critical to ensure that we approach all discussions with empathy, an open mind and open heart, that we resist any efforts of stereotyping or discrimination of any group. It is not just important for organizational excellence; it is important for human excellence. It ensures all voices and viewpoints are contemplated, that policies and procedures reflect our diverse pool of talent. It is this very fact that due to our diverse viewpoints and perspectives that bring in more information, experience, and perspective, we cannot afford not to be inclusive. Our own APIW community has leaned into these discussions, and I have faith we will continue to lead, support, listen, and act.
I wanted to acknowledge the loss of one of our founders and APIW sisters – Kathryn McIntyre. Kathryn worked for Business Insurance for almost 25 years, advancing to a variety of leadership roles including publisher and editorial director. She developed a project highlighting one hundred Women in Insurance, which was the precursor to the current BI’s Women to Watch annual event. She sat on numerous non-profit boards including Spencer Educational Foundation, Insurance Industry Council for the City of Hope, and the College of Insurance (now St. John’s University School of Risk Management, Insurance and Actuarial Science). Kathryn left a lasting mark on APIW as the APIW’s 1989 Insurance Woman of the Year and as one of the founders of the APIW Chicago network in 1992. This December, APIW Chicago honored Kathryn at our holiday event including donations that went to the City of Hope. She will be missed but not forgotten for the impact she has had as a on so many women in our industry.
The latter part of 2023 saw an amazing 20+ events around the country, providing thought leadership sessions, networking events and opportunities to give back to the community. We continue to collaborate with other associations like NAAIA, MRAI and NYCAIW. We had the opportunity to present at CIAB and are thrilled to see this organization focus more on DEI in 2024. We hosted our inaugural WSIA brunch and networking event and are planning more with our industry association peers in 2024 – just watch.
And 2024 has started strong, starting on January 9th in NYC with our Annual CEO luncheon from keynote speaker Sabrina Hart, CEO of Munich Re Specialty Insurance, followed by our first Board meeting packed with updates and decisions around what we expect to be another exciting, networking and information-packed year of programming and events in our founding city (NY) and across our 11 network cities. The San Francisco Bay Area has a Women’s Leadership Development Workshop on January 30th, and Atlanta is hosting a Personal Branding – A Case for Elevating Reputation and Revenue (virtual). If you are in the Chicago area, stop by for our Love Potion Mixology Event for some Valentine’s inspiration. We will be collaborating at major conferences such as RIMS and ITI. Please continue to check our website as we regularly update this with events and announcements. We have a great year ahead of us, and I look forward to seeing familiar faces and meeting new industry friends.
Thanks to our fifty-six and growing Corporate Sponsors. We could not continue to serve our members, communities, and pipeline of talent without your ongoing support. Special welcome to our new Corporate Sponsors from September through December 2023 – AmRisc and Starr Companies.
Our industry has made tremendous achievements and progress around DEI. For sure, we are not even close to equity at the CEO levels, but I’m humbled by the increasing number of amazing women leaders I continue to meet and read about who are at all levels of leadership across our organizations. This pipeline is critical. It is happening. And that is good for women and good for business.