Pauline White

Pauline White from Zurich Insurance draws on personal experience to talk about the actions needed to enable women middle managers to develop their careers.

My name is Pauline White and I work for Zurich Insurance in Glasgow in our Real Estate Propositions team.

I am also the Vice Chair of our Women's Innovation Network, WIN UK, which seeks to highlight opportunities for the business to change, whilst encouraging women to take control of their own careers.

WIN has an outreach to over 900 members in the UK, and we hope to reach 1000 soon, with key committees working across 10 of our regional offices and overseeing three pillars we wish to influence and support within the business: career development; driving cultural change; networking and influencing.

Pauline White

Six years ago I took the plunge.  I left a company I had worked with for 26 years and made my way out in to the big bad world to look for a new job.

Was it scary? Absolutely.

Was it easy? Definitely not, especially the first few years.

Do I regret it? No I don't.

It made me look at myself, what made me happy, what didn't and shook me out of the very comfortable rut I had been in.

I had to learn about CVs, networking, LinkedIn and all manner of things I had not done for such a long time.

But I'm happy at where it got me. I am now working for a company which not only encourages diversity and inclusion, but supports me, by giving the time and space to do something I value - giving back.

There have long been concerns about the lack of women in financial services, particularly at senior levels. It is increasingly apparent that many women are stuck in middle management positions in the sector.  This can be for a number of reasons including an absence of role models and mentoring, a lack of careers information and unsuitable or inefficient talent spotting. Action is needed through leadership development programmes, sponsorship, mentoring and coaching to enable women to effectively develop their careers and move into more senior and technical roles.

In the past, I was one of these women. I have two beautiful daughters and went back part time after the second. I accepted that meant that I wouldn't really progress because of this and, looking back now, it makes me quite cross that I limited myself like that.

So how has Zurich gone about tackling these issues?

Firstly, flexwork. Zurich in the UK launched 'FlexWork' in November 2017.  This empowers all our people, both men and women, to work where, when and how they choose, allowing them to break free of the 9-5pm office life that can be difficult to manage alongside other commitments.

Secondly, earlier this year, we changed the wording on all of our job adverts. We now offer every role as full time, part time, job share or flexwork. These 9 words resulted in our female applicants increasing by 25% (45% in senior management roles).

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