Danielle Allan reflects…
International Women’s Day feels different this year to me than it has before. Like it carries more weight. The world is shifting. We hear voices and stories that we likely didn’t before. This year I’ve been privy to far more conversations among women who belong to different communities than me, who look different than I do, and who have drastically different experiences of the world. With movements like #metoo being so central in the social consciousness, I’ve been reflecting on the need for allyship and accountability in all corners of my life, from personal to professional.
I’m often surrounded by wonderful, thoughtful, kind men. Men who want to support women; support their families; support each other. But it’s no secret that the life insurance industry is an old boys’ club. It hasn’t held space for non-traditional, non-masculine ways of operating and doing business. It has, intentionally or not, excluded women and minorities from being in positions of power and influence. And it has made it even harder to feel that we belong in those positions once we fight hard enough to get there. Ask any woman in this industry, and she’ll have a mental rolodex of stories about being undermined, disregarded, or sexualized as she’s moved through professional interactions. Account for layers like race or sexual orientation, and you’ll hear about distinct sets of barriers and biases that she faces in her day-to-day.
A year ago today, I was attending an industry conference in Vancouver. In a full day of panels and speakers, I only saw two women on the stage. I saw no women in the banners and marketing materials surrounding me. I saw many women in the room who deserve to be celebrated and learned from. International Women’s Day was mentioned once, in passing. This was a missed opportunity, and one that stuck with me and motivated me to do things differently.
Allan Financial is in a unique situation having so many women on our team, but this in itself doesn’t mean we don’t have work to do. We’re just now starting an intentional and meaningful conversation about how we can strive for equality and diversity, both within our company and in our community at large.
There’s so much opportunity for growth here, and this kind of growth stands to benefit everyone. This isn’t about pointing fingers or tearing anyone down. It’s about ensuring that no one is silenced for fear of losing their job. It’s about showing up for each other, engaging in compassionate conversation, and creating much-needed change. This change is already happening, across industries and all over the world. It’s just a matter of getting on board.
So, Happy International Women’s Day, everyone! Let’s make it count.