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​IWD: #EmbraceEquity with Polina Konstantinova, Underwriting Operations Manager at Newline Group

  • Publish Date: Posted about 1 year ago
  • Author:by Jordan White

​​​​This International Women's Day, I interviewed Polina Konstantinova, Underwriting Operations Manager at Newline Group, and she shared her thoughts on how we can #EmbraceEquity.

Equity can be defined as giving everyone what they need to be successful. The IWD 2023 campaign theme seeks to forge worldwide understanding about why equal opportunities aren’t enough, and a focus on gender equity needs to be part of every society’s DNA.

International Women’s Day belongs to everyone, everywhere. Collectively, we can all help create a diverse, equitable and inclusive world.

1. What is your top advice for making job descriptions more inclusive?  

As women will typically only go for an opportunity when they feel they can tick off every requirement on the list, it’s important to think about how requirements are structured in a job description compared to skills and experience, which would be a bonus.

In my experience, it’s also a good idea to stay away from stereotypically “macho” language, as that is off-putting to women. This is even more dispiriting to a female candidate if the language on a job description is mirrored from corporate value statements and other brand visuals that feel overly aggressive. Words are not universally neutral and it’s fairly easy to convey the same message around an exciting employment opportunity without deterring half of the potential workforce.

Transparency around reward and benefits are also key. If the benefits are really comprehensive, why not show them off?

2. What does being an effective ally for women look like to you?

In my opinion, there is a simple message that can cover a range of scenarios: consider whether you rise to the occasion and call out misogyny when you witness it. Regardless of whether women are present or not, if you don’t say something, you are not an ally.

3. What advice would you give aspiring women in the industry you work in?

Insurance is still the unseen sector in many economies, yet in the UK, our industry is just as big as banking and provides opportunities across all types of roles and specialisms from front line roles such as broking, underwriting and claims to cross-sector roles around marketing, technology and people.

I’ve also found that a lot of people I’ve met in the market who work in broking, underwriting and claims have learned their specialism on the job rather than coming from a particular trade or profession beforehand. For example, it’s quite uncommon that underwriters and brokers who work on aviation business in London were pilots or aircraft engineers in a past life and just fell into that sector. I’d use the same analogy for people I’ve met across medical malpractice, financial institutions, cyber, and plenty of other classes of insurance.

So my advice is: insurance is a huge industry and there are plenty of opportunities for people who have no direct insurance experience and for those who come from other sectors and want to get into the market. Further, the industry is hungrier than ever for diverse talent, and that is not because of the pressing skill shortage following the pandemic.

4. International Women’s Day is also about celebrating women and their achievements. What woman/women inspire you?

I am delighted that International Women’s Day is now on the radar in the UK as it wasn’t widely celebrated when I first moved here nearly 15 years ago, whereas in other parts of Europe, it is a far bigger deal and is celebrated with gusto every year.

I am surrounded by so many talented women in our industry – from senior leaders who are driving change to my own peer group who are accelerating their careers. I am also thrilled to meet young women who really think differently about their place in the world and what they want from a career. I am a huge advocate of female professional networks and have benefited tremendously from my involvement in ISC. I’m keen to remain involved as I always meet someone who makes my day, whether it’s the joy of bumping into a friendly face I haven’t seen in a while or an interesting new connection.