By Julie Layton, Managing Director and Risk Management Segment Leader, Marsh
Several years ago, a man named Ed worked for a telecommunications company and spent his days digging ditches where telephone poles could be placed.
One day, Ed’s team didn’t execute the way they should have and the telephone pole came crashing down, striking Ed in the head. The heavy blow embedded his hard hat into this scalp leading to severe brain trauma and an anticipated difficult recovery.
His employer too suffered this catastrophe. Aside from the trauma to an experienced employee they deeply cared about, the accident also threatened the project, summoned OSHA inspections, and resulted in a significant financial outlay. Management was deeply concerned about doing the right thing for Ed’s family.
A young claims adjuster with about two years’ experience — none of it related to such a catastrophic injury — was entrusted with Ed’s case. In need of support, multiple disciplines and resources came together to offer the young adjuster advice and referrals for everything from treatment plans to permanent total evaluations. But the most impactful guidance came from a seasoned professional who was willing to take the time to give insight and prep this adjuster before every phone call. The experience and the calm demeanor of this mentor became the key to this new adjuster’s success.
Because of the significance of this injury, all eyes were on the adjuster’s ability to handle the task. Ultimately, the experience of handling the claim, working with the employer and the rewards of successfully returning Ed to a work environment turned out well and was a stepping stone to future career successes for this young adjuster. In the moment, it was the supportive hands and voices of others that infused knowledge and confidence that left a lasting impact.
That new adjuster was me. Now a senior executive, I realize what an incredible gift mentorship is.
As a woman, I had plenty of situations throughout my career where I doubted my readiness for a new task or job role. Even today, I can find myself implementing the tools I have learned to push myself passed the fears. I am not unlike others in my challenges — breaking invisible barriers, navigating difficult bosses, struggling to balance what is for dinner, planning birthday parties or arranging care takers and drop offs. Important moments at work and at home seemed to always be pulling me. Perhaps, at times self-inflicted, the demands are very real. For me, I had a desire to ensure that the traditional gender roles never were visible or a detriment to my career path. Looking back, I am not sure if that was the right move. Where the tradeoffs worth it? Should I have been more selfish for myself or my family? One thing is for certain, I didn’t always feel supported.
In a recent meeting with other incredible professional women, we discussed how small gestures, a teaching hand, or an ounce of perspective has made a material difference in our personal development. We also acknowledged that there are parts of our journey where better boundaries or support may have made us even better.
Fortunately, there is a place that is simplifying the access to such support, education, and mentorship within our industry. The Alliance of Women in Workers’ Compensation has a mission to drive positive change. They are working hard to break bias, support diversity and inclusion, and foster the talent within the workers’ compensation industry. Through the Alliance, women have the ability to inspire and be inspired in ways that enrich technical and soft skillsets, and the men of our industry are celebrated for being our allies.
Events offered virtually, locally through an Ambassador program, or at the Alliance’s pre and post-conferences associated with industry events give accessibility to every level of professional.
With the Alliance, I have found a place I wish I had known early in my career. Now, as a more seasoned executive, it affords me the opportunity to return just a little of what the industry has given to me. Follow the Alliance on LinkedIn or see what great things they are up to at https://allianceofwomen.org/
About Julie Layton
Julie Layton, is a Miami-based Managing Director and Risk Management Segment Leader for global brokerage firm Marsh, where she advises large businesses on enterprise risk, compliance, safety, and claims. Prior to joining the brokerage industry in 2015, Julie oversaw workers’ compensation programs as Vice President, Risk and Compliance for Kohls Department Stores and as Director, Risk Management for Office Depot. Julie was elected to the Alliance of Women in Workers’ Compensation board of directors in 2022.
Marsh is the world’s leading insurance broker and risk advisor. With over 45,000 colleagues operating in 130 countries, Marsh serves commercial and individual clients with data-driven risk solutions and advisory services. Marsh is a business of Marsh McLennan (NYSE: MMC), the world’s leading professional services firm in the areas of risk, strategy and people. With annual revenue nearly $20 billion, Marsh McLennan helps clients navigate an increasingly dynamic and complex environment through four market-leading businesses: Marsh, Guy Carpenter, Mercer and Oliver Wyman.