To recognize their organizational alignment in supporting women entrepreneurs, the Insurance Brokers Association of Saskatchewan (IBAS) and Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan (WESK) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Thursday, March 31. The signing of the MOU launched IBAS’s 70th Anniversary Celebration & Trade Show, which featured a discussion around leadership with well-respected Saskatchewan entrepreneurs Kristy Ehman (Hyon Software Inc.), Leanne Johnson (Edge Family Law), and Dr. Monique Simair (Maven Water & Environment).
Prabha Ramaswamy, CEO of WESK stated: “Supporting women entrepreneurs in fulfilling their vision of entrepreneurship is critical to addressing the gender entrepreneurship gap in our province. I look forward to the collaboration between WESK and IBAS and advancing the representation of women in the insurance industry.”
The agreement formalizes the collaboration of both parties and leverages key initiatives, including WESK’s Saskatchewan Women Entrepreneurship Charter. Stemming from recommendations from the Saskatchewan Advisory Committee on the Gender Entrepreneurship Gap, the charter serves as a catalyst to inspire and empower organizations to adopt new practices and adapt current practices to be more inclusive.
Women currently make up roughly two-thirds (62%) of the insurance workforce throughout Canada (IIC, 2017). Despite this representation, the rate of women filling more senior-level positions declines significantly, to only 35% at the senior management levels (IIC, 2017). The signing of the MOU acknowledges IBAS’s commitment to amplifying women-owned insurance brokers in Saskatchewan and creating a dialogue on how the insurance sector can be a better model for supporting women in the industry.
The MOU outlines other strategic supports for women entrepreneurs, including the mutual promotion of local entrepreneurship stories through the Saskatchewan Women-Owned Business movement and strategies to execute on the principles identified in Saskatchewan Women Entrepreneurship Charter.
“IBAS is proud to be partnering with WESK to advance practical tools and resources to better support the women entrepreneurs within our membership,” says IBAS President & CEO Derek Lothian. “Internally, our organization has already taken tangible steps to back this commitment up with action. Since the charter was first introduced, we have already increased the number of woman-owned businesses IBAS supplies from by 10 per cent, and we have doubled-down on efforts to ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion are built into our governance structures. Currently, within IBAS, women comprise half of our board positions, two-thirds of staff positions, and three-quarters of chair and vice chair positions on member advisory committees.”
To ensure key priorities are advanced, the organizations will take part in regular meetings and develop additional partnerships to further enhance collaboration. WESK and IBAS will be sharing more details on this partnership in the coming months.