Judi Smith, of Aon, has extensive experience in the insurance industry. Judi’s primary areas of expertise are manufacturing and product liability. Judi uses extensive knowledge to counsel manufacturing, contracting and construction clients about the best insurance options to effectively protect their business.
What is your experience of the glass ceiling?
I am on the sales side so I have not really had to deal with a glass ceiling. We are all on the same playing field; your success is completely dependent on you.
What advice do you have for others in business, particularly women?
Go with your instincts, do what you think is right, listen to yourself and never forget who you are. Don’t try to be someone you are not. Females have a different radar than men. You go to a meeting and you hear a clear message and the man you are next to concentrates on something else; that is what is so interesting and helpful. That is why I believe diversity on boards is really important.
What is your opinion on quotas and the gender pay gap?
I would never want to be asked to be on a board of directors simply to fill a quota. I would find that insulting. However, it is important that senior management recognize that diversity in the board room is key to really being able to recognize the full picture and to have input from others that see things in a different way. Then you are in a better position to see the 360 picture.
There are some industries that still have gender pay gaps. As we move forward, less of this will exist as when given a chance people will stand on their own merits and the bar will be raised because of it. In my firm, our highest ranking official in our Canadian operations is female so there is not a pay gap between men and women. The insurance industry is the second largest employer in Canada and happens to be heavily employed by females. Differences in wages are non-existent because of this. Eventually, no industry will end up having this bias.
Are you aware of government certifications and schemes for women in business?
I am aware of government programs for not just women, but for trades and all varieties of offerings. I have not heard of anything specific to females in years.