Women of Influence within OneAmerica

Women of Influence within OneAmerica

Women of Influence within OneAmerica

On Nov. 2, OneAmerica Vice President of Corporate Marketing and Communications, Kelley Gay was named one of the Indianapolis Business Journal’s Women of Influence for 2017. She joins a distinguished list of OneAmerica colleagues who had already claimed that honor, including 2014 winner Kelly Huntington (senior vice president for enterprise strategy) and 2013 winner Karin Sarratt (senior vice president and chief human resources officer).Kelley Gay named IBJ Women of Influence in 2017.

Kelley’s award got us thinking about other female leaders from our company’s past with significant achievements, and when such a recognition concept was unthinkable based on the norms of the male-dominated workplace.

In the early 20th century, many women didn’t think they had an opportunity in business but that was not true with us, according to the company biography, “American United Life Insurance Company: Progress through Partnership 1877-2002.”

When AUL was known as American Central Life Insurance around World War I, then-president Herbert Woollen hired one of the first female actuaries in the insurance industry. Helen Clark had pursued her interest in mathematics by studying actuarial science at the University of Michigan. We hired her in 1916. Her association with us lasted 44 years, ending with her retirement in 1960.

In 1942, Ms. Clark was elected to the position of associate actuary in the company, an achievement shared by few women in the industry at the time. Her expertise and professional accomplishments were further recognized in 1950 when she became the first woman to serve on the board of governors of the Society of Actuaries, a position she held for three years.

Many crucial, critical leadership roles were filled by women by preference and by necessity. In the 1940s, during World War II, the company brought housewives and “others who would ordinarily not seek employment” onto the payroll. By 1943, the company employed 40 married women, according to our own historical records.

1957 photo from AULAs our company matured, we see evidence where it became less unusual. A 1957 photo (left) of a still-newly formed AUL group insurance department showed 17 people, nine of whom are female.

These days, the gender makeup of our company is just about evenly split, and our leadership and our board of directors has reflected an emphasis on equality.

By the way, Kelley Gay, the 2017 IBJ honoree, oversees seven business units that support the delivery of OneAmerica brand management initiatives. She has been profiled by the NCAA, by the Indianapolis Star, and the profile in the Indianapolis Business Journal can be read here. (Subscription required.)