Advancing women in the workplace: A conversation with the leader of Women at Hiscox
In honor of International Women’s Day, we sat down with Jennifer Bergstrom to get her perspective on the advancement of women in the workplace and her advice to women looking to grow their careers. Jennifer has been with Hiscox for four years. She is VP, Product Head of Management Liability, Crime and Financial Services and the founder and leader of the employee resource group (ERG) Women at Hiscox US.
Here is what she had to say about how we can advance women in the workplace.
Infographic: The rise of women entrepreneurs
Providing resources to women in the workplace
The Women at Hiscox employee network provides support and resources to its members and employees through virtual events and webinars, training, newsletters, and speakers. In the past, the network hosted workshops to help women develop their careers, such as Daring to Lead with Kristen Hemingway, which provided training “around courageous leadership, barriers to leadership, and explained four skill sets that women (and men) can use to improve their leadership style and become more effective leaders, ” explains Jennifer.
Male support in advancing women
Jennifer explained that it’s important to the network that they provide resources that everyone finds useful, regardless of gender. “We are very intentional about choosing topics that are relevant and of interest to everyone, not just women. Male allyship is critical to achieving gender equality and diversity. When I founded the network, we had a male executive sponsor (Neil Lipuma), who was really instrumental in getting the group off the ground. His passion for gender equality and his support for women in their career pursuits is exactly the type of allyship we are hoping to find more of as the group continues to grow.”
“One of the things I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is how we can increase our male membership and enhance men’s support of women in their careers within the company. This is a work in progress, so more to come on that,” says Jennifer.
Top 3 career tips for women
As someone with a track record of success in developing her own career and connecting with the right people who will support her ambitions, Jennifer has some great advice for other women looking to grow professionally. Here are her top three tips.
1. Embrace risk
“Don't be afraid to take a risk and do something outside of your comfort zone,” says Jennifer. “Women tend to be more selective when it comes to choosing which jobs they will apply for, but research suggests that once they do apply, they are more likely to be hired compared to their male counterparts.”
“If you're interested and you think you can do the job, apply for it.”
2. Do something you love
“Do something you love. Do something you're interested in," says Jennifer.
"I've found throughout my career, that when I wasn't challenged and when I wasn't interested in what I was doing, I wasn't doing a very good job. Being interested in what you’re doing is a huge part of being successful.”
3. Find a mentor
“Find a good mentor or sponsor; somebody who you can trust with questions about your career, career moves, career decisions, and who's willing to put their neck out for you to recommend you for a promotion or to sponsor you and your career goals,” explains Jennifer.
“I've had some really good role models who were women in my career that helped me develop and figure out what career path I want to take and have given me support throughout all of my years in insurance.”
As we celebrate international women’s day, it’s important to remember what got us this far when it comes to gender equality and the continued work ahead. Continuing the conversation throughout the year and elevating women’s voices is one way to push through barriers and strive for equality.