Women in Risk Management

Leadership Gender Gap Persists

The number of women in risk management leadership roles is increasing, but the field is dominated by men.
By: | January 9, 2017 • 3 min read
Topics: Risk Managers

Women still have a long way to go to attain senior-level risk management positions, according to a recent study “Women in Financial Services,” by the Oliver Wyman consultancy.

Only 15 percent of chief risk officers are women. The percentage is even lower in the banking industry, where only 10 percent of CROs are women.

But the research was not all discouraging. The study found that female representation is increasing on boards and executive committees in the financial industries – and much of the growth between 2013 and 2016 comes from women taking on CRO and CFO roles.

In 2013, only 7 percent of CROs were women, according to the Oliver Wyman study.

Nicole Lamb-Hale, managing director, investigations and dispute practice, Kroll

Nicole Lamb-Hale, managing director, investigations and dispute practice, Kroll

“I think the risk management field isn’t that different than many other professional fields in terms of the number of women who ascend to leadership roles,” said Nicole Lamb-Hale, managing director, Kroll’s investigations and dispute practice.

“Some of it has to do with mentoring and exposure. Some may have to do with the extent that women may not be aware of opportunities in the risk management area,” she said. “It’s a very interesting industry and I am very happy to be a part of it now.”

Lamb-Hale, who previously was assistant secretary and deputy general counsel at the U.S. Department of Commerce, as well as having been a partner in two major law firms, said that Kroll has committed itself to bringing in women for leadership positions.

Andrea Bonime-Blanc, CEO of GEC Risk Advisory, also took a nontraditional route to a risk management role, having worked as a general counsel and then in ethics and compliance roles.

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“The CRO’s role is a relatively newer role than general counsel or CFO,” she said. “I think it’s a little less organized in the sense of diversity initiatives targeted to that particular role. I think that’s part of what’s going on here.”

The Oliver Wyman research suggested four main reasons for the gender imbalance:

  • Fewer women graduate in technical subjects;
  • The constant need for oversight may be incompatible with women who want to play a major role in their children’s lives;
  • The potentially confrontational nature of the role may deter some women; and
  • Conservative business leaders may hesitate to appoint women to a traditionally male role.

“For too many mid-career women, the costs [of leadership positions] seem to outweigh the benefits, and they choose to step back from their careers,” according to the study.

Susan Colantuono, CEO of Leading Women, a consultancy that advises companies on ways to close the leadership gender gap, said there may be bias in existing HR or promotion systems, but another factor working against women is they are perceived as lacking business strategy and financial acumen.

She said women in middle management need to shift their identity “to being someone who positions the organization in its marketplace and develops the leadership and executive presence or brand that makes you a credible representative of the business in the external marketplace.”

Andrea Bonime-Blanc, CEO, GEC Risk Advisory

Andrea Bonime-Blanc, CEO, GEC Risk Advisory

Bonime-Blanc noted that many mid-level managers are extremely competent but are not “taken seriously by the business people because they are not connecting their work directly to the strategy of the business.”

“I don’t think that is a gender issue,” she said. “I think that’s a role issue,” noting that when professionals work in non-core business roles they may be marginalized by the corporate leadership.

Lamb-Hale of Kroll said it’s important for organizations to develop a pipeline to increase the opportunities for women in risk management. Initiatives should include using mentors to help young women develop their careers.

“Insurance is male-dominated,” she said. “There are many industries that are male-dominated and women, when given the opportunity, have done very well, be it in risk management or insurance or any other industry.”

Colantuono said risk management professionals who succeed at advancing their careers “learn how to look at the function through the eyes of the executive team and the board and not through the eyes of the profession or the field of risk management.” &

Anne Freedman is managing editor of Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

Risk Management

The Profession

Mohegan Gaming’s director of risk management recognizes the value of the people around her in creating success.  
By: | February 20, 2018 • 4 min read

R&I: What was your first job?

I was a margin clerk in financial futures at Kidder Peabody & Company.

R&I: How did you come to work in risk management?

While I was at General Dynamics working in HR, the opportunity to transition to risk management was afforded to me. I was very fortunate that the risk manager at the time took a chance on me and taught me so very much. Coming from a manufacturing facility with multiple unions helped prepare me for any situation.

R&I: How has your experience in human resources helped your career in risk management? What do the positions have in common?

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I believe my HR background has helped my risk management career immensely. Both areas are interrelated. People are fundamental to accomplishing goals and people can help or hinder those results. Human resources is tasked with bringing in and nurturing the right people, and risk management is tasked with keeping them safe.

R&I: What is the risk management community doing right?

Education, keeping up with industry trends and having resources available to better prepare organizations. There is always something new or a new way to view a situation.

Mary Lou Morrissette, corporate director of risk management, Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment

R&I: What kind of resources can risk managers bring to the table?

Data and analytics have come so far, and the systems out there are able to drill down into good quality information that can be used more effectively.

R&I: What could the risk management community be doing a better job of?

Within the community, we all understand the role of risk management, but getting organizations to understand the importance of considering risk during the strategic decision-making process as opposed to treating it like an after-thought can be a challenge. Risk should be involved in day-to-day operations — not just when a problem arises.

R&I: What was the best location for the RIMS conference and why?

San Diego. The proximity to the city, community and culture was great.

R&I: What’s been the biggest change in the risk management and insurance industry since you’ve been in it?

The emergence of cyber security.

R&I: What emerging commercial risk most concerns you?

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Catastrophic events, both natural and manmade, are becoming more of a norm of late. We need to look at analytics and the role they play in understanding these disasters and subsequent losses to help organizations prepare, manage and recover from these types of events.

R&I: What insurance carrier do you have the highest opinion of?

We have always valued relationships. We have a few long-standing partners that immediately come to mind. FM Global, Great American and Safety National have all been immensely important to our company and our growth.

R&I: How much business do you do direct versus going through a broker?

All through a broker.

R&I: Is the contingent commission controversy overblown?

If you have trust and faith in your broker and they have full disclosure, then yes, it is overblown. But I have seen the cost of hidden commissions and the effect on the bottom line.

R&I: Who is your mentor and why?

I had a mentor early on in my career in HR, Marie Haggerty. She instilled in me the mindset to speak up and be heard and not to shy away from an adverse opinion but to be strong in my convictions.

R&I: What have you accomplished that you are proudest of?

Being awarded FM Global’s Highly Protected Risk award in 2011. The award is granted when a location has no human element recommendations, no uncontrolled high-risk exposures and no other major loss exposures. Mohegan Sun has worked hand-in-hand with FM since 2000 on loss prevention recommendations and improvements. Our engineering team as well as our fire department have been instrumental in our ability to achieve this award. We have always tried to meet or exceed the advice we receive from FM’s engineers. This has made our property better protected as well as helped to keep our premium in line.

R&I: How many e-mails do you get in a day?

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Too many!

R&I: What is your favorite book or movie?

I only read nonfiction and personal development books. Katie Couric’s “The Best Advice I Ever Got: Lessons from Extraordinary Lives” is one of my favorites.

R&I: What is your favorite drink?

Coffee and water.

R&I: What is the most unusual/interesting place you have ever visited?

The Pearl Harbor memorial. I love history and to stand over the Arizona was humbling.

R&I: What is the riskiest activity you ever engaged in?

Parasailing.

R&I: What about this work do you find the most fulfilling or rewarding?

That I can make a difference in either a safer workplace or on the bottom line, and that every day is different. I love the diversity of what I do and the constant change and ability to continue to grow and learn.

R&I: What do your friends and family think you do?

I definitely get the deer in the headlights look when I tell people what I do — I don’t think any of my family or friends truly understand it.




Katie Dwyer is an associate editor at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]