New class of female advisers still confronting old challenge: cracking the glass ceiling

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Fitting in with the old boy’s club. Working harder and longer than male counterparts. Facing direct, or indirect, moments of sexism. Despite gains made toward gender diversity and workplace equality, it’s no surprise that the greatest challenge many women still cite is gaining equal footing.

“I have a hospitality background so am accustomed to a mostly male-led industry,” says Erica Gaynor, account executive at Ollis/Akers/Arney Insurance & Business Advisors and one of this year’s Top Women in Benefit Advising honorees. “Seeing more women step into leadership roles while maintaining all of the components of their familial relationships and embracing the softer side of business has been a lifelong goal.”

For this year’s Top Women in Benefit Advising feature, Danielle Capilla, the director of compliance for employee benefits at Alera Group, told senior editor Alyssa Place that she takes it on as a personal challenge to ensure that women are held to the same standards as their male colleagues.

“As a woman who has been successful in our industry, it is often assumed by male colleagues that I have not been disadvantaged by being a woman, or that I am not interested in furthering the path for women behind me, because I don’t see a need for it,” she says. “But the opposite could not be more true.”

Adviser Aida Swanson says she never views being Hispanic or being a female in the adviser space as a detriment, despite the fact that the field is male-dominated and she was often expected to start in administrative roles. When she didn’t see the job she wanted, she made it for herself, starting her own firm, Swanson Benefits Insurance Solution, in 2018.

Their best advice for the next generation?

“It is no secret that the insurance industry is a male-dominated field when it comes to consulting. There are unconscious biases women have to fight every day to gain the respect as a professional business woman,” says Jennifer Kinley, employee benefits director at Propel Insurance. “We must continue to develop ourselves both personally and professionally to instill the courage and confidence needed to succeed in this profession.”

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Diversity and equality Gender issues Gender discrimination Top Women in Benefit Advising