Nominating Claire for the award, TAL General Manager, Value and Profitability, Joseph Daley noted Claire’s unwavering focus on the success of their team and their business and her drive to achieve a better outcome for TAL, their customers and their industry. A high achiever, Claire is known as one of the best in her field, having received the Andrew Prescott Prize for life insurance from the Institute of Actuaries. A keen mentor, Claire also supports TAL employees as they tackle the onerous actuarial education program.
Claire shares her insights on the future for women in financial services with Ignition Wealth.
Ignition Wealth: You are known as a great mentor at TAL, were you inspired by someone who provided mentorship and leadership to you?
Claire Geenwell: “I’ve been fortunate enough in my career to work with a number of great women who have really supported and advocated for me. Every time I’ve hit a wall, I have someone I can turn to who has been there before and is ready to share some advice.
“In particular, my manager Shaneen Marshall is a huge inspiration to me. Shaneen has been very successful in her career so far, and she uses that success to help and mentor others. She truly invests in the professional development of her team members, and will push for you to be recognised and promoted across the business. Shaneen has taught me so much about collaborating with others, and has helped me develop beyond the traditional actuary role.”
IW: It’s great to see TAL leading the way advocating for women. Are there any special initiatives or elements of company culture that have been set up to support women?
CG: “One of my favourite programs is the AFA Female Excellence in Advice Award, which is a joint-initiative between TAL and the AFA. The award recognises women in financial advice who are making a significant contribution to their profession, their community and their clients. The great thing about this award is that it has two benefits: 1. More women are encouraged to enter the financial advice industry and to take up leadership roles, and 2. This in turn will give more choice to Australians, particularly women, who are seeking financial advice.
“TAL has a culture that aims to be ahead of the curve on gender diversity issues. Most importantly, TAL has taken a pro-active stance to tackle the gender pay gap. TAL targets a 1% variance in pay equity (with a 99.6% pay equity position as at 31 March) and has maintained this for the past two years. TAL also pays super contributions to employees for the entire duration of parental leave, including unpaid leave and runs customised Career Partnership Programs for high potential women, which aims to support more women moving into leadership roles.”.
IW: What advice do you have for women starting their careers in the financial services?
CG: “The advice I always give to my female colleagues is that you need to speak up and promote yourself. Our society places a lot of pressure on women to be pleasant and accommodating, and this sometimes means that we wait around for other people to recognise our work. In the meantime, our male colleagues are putting themselves forward for all the pay rises and promotions. ‘Think like a man’ and start telling everyone how great you are.”
IW: In an industry dominated by men, how can men support the rise of women in the work force?
CG: “Give them a seat at the table. We can only start to change the culture once we see significantly more women in leadership, including older women and women from diverse backgrounds. As we saw at the Women in Financial Services Awards, there are so many talented women in this industry from so many different backgrounds. Make it your business to promote and champion these amazing women, and your company and the industry will benefit as a result.”