“Why not you?”
Diversity and Inclusion
By Desmond Devoy
Making progress, and making time for yourself, are selfless actions.
In fact, they can be an important step in your career and life.
Kim Auchstetter has seen working women hold back when they know their brief inside and out — and admits she doesn’t always make herself a priority.
The Chicago area executive vice president of Arthur J. Gallagher (Gallagher) will be one of the four panellists, speaking on the topic of “Chart your insurance career path,” at the Women in Insurance Summit at the W Chicago City Center Hotel on May 11.
This is not Auchstetter’s first speaking engagement. In fact, this is the sixth engagement she has done specifically addressing women in the world of work. This past March, she participated in a women’s panel sponsored by AIG.
“I love talking about it and I love hearing other people’s stories, too,” he said, speaking on speaker phone as he weaved through Chicagoland traffic on Friday afternoon, arriving on a flight from the O’ Hare airport.
She’s been in the industry for 34 years, and she continues to be surprised by the limits some women put on themselves.
“There is a voice behind most of them that says they should be number two, or, they should work behind the person and they should do all the technical and intellectual capital behind the presentation,” he said. .
Confidence in progress
Even if he gave them instruction, it was difficult to think of breaking up.
“They don’t have the confidence to say, ‘I have to be the one in the room to command the room, command the presentation, and be number one,’” he said. So he teaches them to ask themselves: “Why not? Why don’t you? Why don’t you say all the things you put together? No one knows this better than you.”
Even with that encouragement, she acknowledges that for some women taking on such a role “isn’t in their DNA, and that’s fine too,” but that other women may work on their confidence to get it. “Everything is a little different. I would say some of it will be confidence in themselves, and I think you can encourage people to put themselves out there and take risks and feel uncomfortable sometimes. People want that familiar feeling and people are comfortable with what they know.
Getting out of that involves a lot of risk and inconvenience.
“They’re scared if something happens,” he said. “It’s okay if something happens, because you learn things when you make mistakes. So it’s okay to fail.”
There are other issues at play, such as cultural background. Auchstetter attended a girls’ school, but on one school day, she joined some friends to sit in on classes at the local public school. Even at that age, “she realized the difference between how girls reacted in a classroom with boys in the classroom versus an all-girls education setting,” she said. She learned a lot from an all-female environment, seeing women succeed outside of male competition at a formative time in life.
Work/life balance is selfless
Another challenge for women in the workplace is work/life balance. Auchstetter has four children, very close in age.
“When they were little, I felt guilty because I was working full time and I had time for work and family and that was it,” she recalled. “I don’t do much socially. I work and I do things with my family. And I feel guilty if I do anything. “
But she listened to other working women who told her she needed to make time.
“I think people are selfish to take time away from their family,” he said. “But I took a step back and I think I learned that it’s okay to have time to yourself. You will be a better employee, a better mother, a better wife.”
Balancing his life more means he’s not “driving myself crazy, trying to be all those things in two different spaces,” he says.
He looked forward to the panel, meeting with his fellow panelists to discuss who would say what, who felt a particular issue was most important to them, and more.
“We all have our own different topics that we want to highlight and discuss in the group that we feel are important,” he said.
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