August 26 marks National Women’s Equality Day in the United States, an occasion on which ISC celebrates the achievements of women over the decades and commits to the success of women in the insurance industry.
On this day of acknowledgment and reflection, let’s explore the origins of National Women’s Equality Day, as well as the specific contributions of women in the insurance industry. While much progress has been made since the establishment of National Women’s Equality Day in 1920, there is also still much to achieve when it comes to equality in the corporate workplace.
The History Behind National Women’s Equality Day
National Women’s Equality is celebrated every year on August 26 in the United States to commemorate the adoption of the Nineteenth Amendment, which occurred in 1920. The Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the government from denying citizens the right to vote on the basis of sex, essentially granting women the right to vote after a decades-long effort. Women’s Equality Day was officially declared a national historical anniversary in 1973 by President Nixon, and has been designated such each year by every president since.
The 1920 adoption of the Nineteenth Amendment marked a monumental step forward for women’s equality in the United States, as women had spent decades fighting for the right to vote as part of the suffragette movement. Unfortunately, not all women were afforded this right to vote, as women of color were essentially blocked from exercising the right to vote until 1965’s Voting Rights Act.
Although it took many decades for women, especially women of color, to use their voting power in state and federal elections, the adoption of the Nineteenth Amendment still marks a significant victory for the women’s equality movement in the United States. Now, each year, the date is an opportunity to reflect on how far the nation has come, and examine areas of potential progress.
Celebrating Women in Insurance
In honor of National Women’s Equality Day, ISC honors the millions of women working in the American insurance industry, especially those on the ISC team. There are also a number of prominent women paving the way in the insurance industry who deserve recognition year-round.
For example, take Amanda Blanc, the Group CEO of Aviva, the United Kingdom’s leading insurance, wealth and retirement business. She’s been included in the Financial Times 25 most influential women of 2022 and previously served as Chair of the Association of British Insurers.
Or, in the online insurance marketplace, there’s Jennifer Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald is the CEO and Co-Founder of Policygenius, a United States-based online insurance marketplace that provides customers with a wide range of insurance options. She began her career at McKinsey & Company and was named to the Inc.'s Female Founders 100 in both 2018 and 2019.
In June, Insurance Business America recognized 54 Elite Women for their outstanding qualifications, accomplishments, and contributions to diversity, inclusivity, and the greater insurance industry.
Looking Ahead Towards Progress
While there’s much to celebrate on National Women’s Equality Day, the occasion also serves as a time to reflect on inequality still present — especially in the corporate workplace. A 2018 McKinsey study found that there are still significant gaps between men and women in management in the insurance industry. While women and men enter the industry on equal footing, the study found that women only accounted for 19% of upper management — lower than the average for U.S. women overall. A 2019 Swiss Re report found that globally in 2019 the share of women in C-level executives positions was 23%, 10% of CEOs, but just over 8% of companies’ boards.
This is especially important, these studies explain, as companies with more equal gender representation have more success, especially in the financial-services industries. While this August 26 is a day of celebration, National Women’s Equality Day can also serve as an annual reminder of the continued commitment towards equality.