Can you introduce yourself?
Hi I’m Melissa Plaxton. I’m the Vice President of Underwriting for the CCR Re Canadian Operations. We take care of Canada and the Caribbean. I’ve worked in various underwriting roles at large international and Canadian insurance and reinsurance companies over the last 20 years.
What do you think on being a woman at this position?
I feel I have a responsibility to recognize the work done by other women before me. And also to promote diversity and inclusivity by using social capital to sponsor other women. Either by creating opportunities for others, or helping others achieve their goals. I’m certainly honoured to join the ranks of fantastic women who’ve held such roles in the past.
Why does gender equality matter?
Moving towards gender equality is the right thing to do. Women shouldn’t have to explain the why behind it.
It should be the norm.
As a woman do you perceive a difference of consideration?
I am aware that there might be a difference with regards to the opinion of others, with regards of the title that I hold. As it relates to my capabilities. But I’m also acutely aware that an entire team’s individual contribution is what creates success. I challenge others to recognize the contributions made regardless of title. In this way we can move forward as a team to reach the success that we want. This is where diversity of background and experiences enhances our chances of success.
How could we improve gender equality in the r(e)insurance industry?
Cultural change comes from the top-down. We need as an industry to take definitive action for progress to happen. We live in a moment where the MeeToo movement have propelled a deep reflection on the norms. Our industry is not immune to the movement. It let’s us recognize that it’s just not about hiring women. It’s also about training and retraining the way we think at the same time. It also means an emphasize on more women in our C-suites, in our Board of Directors and in upper management. It’s about having tough conversations about diversity and inclusion. Some companies are embracing this by having committees to bring change. It’s about embracing positive change. It’s about leaving your ego at the door.
What would you say to men in the industry?
Remember that it’s not about you. A lot has been researched, written, opined about what men can do. You can mentor women and offer equal access to your network. Advocate for women, be inclusive. It tends to be easier to include people that look and sound like you. We all have unconscious biases. Make an effort to recognize yours. Educate yourself, listen to women’s experiences. Be an ally. If you see discrimination, say something. Stop it in its tracks. Encourage other women. Words don’t cost anything. But they go a long way in making someone else valued. Recognize the work done publicly, give thanks. Share your knowledge, there’s no reason to hide what you know and who you know. Success breeds more success, it starts with you! Connect women, give back, get involved.
What do you think about working at CCR Re?
At CCR Re there is a concerted effort being made to achieve parity. Which starts at recruitment and encourages gender equality and creating opportunity. From the top-down we are conscious this will only be achieved by being proactive about diversity and inclusivity.
Thank you Melissa Plaxton