Q&A with Yolanda Webb, a key organizer of the 2020 CAHU Women’s Leadership Summit and president of Webb Insurance Solutions in Ontario, California.
CB: You’ve mentioned that when you started in insurance, it was an old boys club. Can you describe the experience of women at that time?
Webb: I started in December 1999 and I didn’t really know the insurance business. However, I did know I could sell a plan and keep getting paid for it every month as long as the client paid his/her premiums. That was attractive to me. I figured that someone could build a very good business by selling group plans and, in those days, individual plans.
Things have certainly changed. If you were to take a poll of women insurance agents in 1999, the men outnumbered the women by far. And even more importantly, women as agency owners were slim to none. I think the population had the belief that insurance was sold by men. The days of the door-to-door salesman selling life Insurance to all the housewives because they were home and not working weren’t that far gone. So, my personal experience at the time I started was that breaking through the glass ceiling was going to be a long way off.
My experience in the early years was that if you were not attractive and stylish you were not given the leads that maybe a more attractive agent would get. And of course, the best leads would always go to the men that were part of (for lack of a better word) the clique. Don’t get me wrong, I am not here to bash men, I am here to tell you how it was at that time.
CB: Has anything changed?
Webb: Yes! Today we are seeing–we are demanding–change! More women have entered the workplace out of necessity and we are good at it. The ability to multi-task is a contributing factor to women’s success and enhances their leadership skills.
We have made tremendous strides with our association, the California Association of Health Underwriters (CAHU). Cerrina Jenson is the California chair for professional development. On a national level too, Cerrina is one of the leadership chairs. That’s quite an accomplishment. Because of Cerrina and her team, the CAHU Women’s Leadership Summit was born.
CB: Tell us about CAHU’s Women’s Leadership Summit.
Webb: Last year was the launch of our first Women’s Leadership Summit. Our main goal was to show women that we can step out of our comfort zone, take a leap of faith, become stronger, be leaders. A true leader is a woman who knows she can’t do it all by herself. It always takes a team.
This year’s event promises to deliver a very special program too. We’re focusing on empowering women leaders both within and outside the insurance industry. Marketing veteran Lori Taylor is our keynote speaker. We’re delighted to have her speak on leadership and how to achieve success in today’s world.
The CAHU Women’s Leadership Summit will take place in Las Vegas at the J.W. Marriott Resort & Spa, on March 25 – 27, 2020. Go to CAHU.org for more info.