In the insurance business, like many others, there are those who wait for opportunity to knock. Then there are those who spot opportunities and make them happen.
Colette Taylor is one of the latter.
Colette, who recently stepped into the role of Chief Operating Officer at Sovereign Insurance, is known as an innovative leader, diversity champion, and change agent. She was recently named one of Insurance Business Canada’s Elite Women 2022, which celebrates groundbreaking women of influence. The prestigious recognition comes at a time when women in the insurance industry continue to be over-represented in middle- and lower-level roles and underrepresented in leadership roles. Notably, women comprise 40% of Sovereign’s senior management team, and work continues to be done in this area.
“I grew up in an industry that significantly lags when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion, with few exceptions,” says Colette. “While progress is being made—not just in insurance but across sectors—there’s still a long way to go. As a female leader, I feel passionate about championing DE&I and bringing about change, starting with my own teams.”
Colette got her start as a broker and has been on the P&C insurance side for more than 20 years. In 2018, she joined Sovereign as VP Specialty Operations & Specialty Distribution. Among her achievements, Colette implemented a new comprehensive underwriting strategy, streamlined Sovereign’s distribution function, and fostered a more collaborative and improved experience for Sovereign’s distribution partners.
Colette’s impeccable work ethic and high-level performance led to a major career development when Sovereign was recruiting for a position to lead Commercial Operations. With her out-of-the-box thinking, Colette saw the opportunity to break down longstanding silos across Sovereign’s two business streams—commercial and specialty. She raised her hand to take leadership responsibility for Sovereign’s entire distribution team. The idea took flight, and Colette was named VP Commercial and Specialty Lines in January 2020.
In this role, Colette was pivotal in supporting Sovereign’s goals for efficiency and informed underwriting. She implemented transformational changes that have improved profitability across both lines. Colette continues to foster innovation within the P&C space by bringing diverse skill sets into her team, which in turn provides more value to Sovereign’s customers and partners.
Recognized for her strong leadership skills and significant impact on the organization, Colette was promoted to the role of COO in March 2022. As COO, one of her key mandates is to champion and celebrate a diverse and inclusive culture—both at Sovereign and for the industry at large.
“Throughout my career, I’ve been supported by many strong female leaders and mentors, and I’ve sought opportunities to pay it forward by supporting the career development of other women,” says Colette. “I also try to continually educate myself on ways I can advocate for all marginalized and minority groups, not just the one I belong to.”
When it comes to helping women, Colette is a member of the ISC Group, a global business community dedicated to increasing the representation of women in senior leadership positions in the insurance sector. Her leadership allows women at different levels across Sovereign to access networks and resources to build on their personal and professional skills.
More broadly, Colette is spearheading a Community Impact strategy that takes a bold step to challenge the conversation around diversity, equity, and inclusion within the P&C insurance space in an effort to drive change.
This year, Sovereign launched a multi-year strategy that looks to: inspire and make a meaningful impact and change behaviours; offer partners diversity and inclusion training; address challenges to build a diverse and inclusive workplace; and address the talent shortage through D&I. Sovereign has invited their partners to join this DE&I journey with them.
“This is an ambitious undertaking, but it’s a challenge that is so worthy and necessary to take on,” says Colette.
Outside of work, Colette continues to be a strong supporter of charities that focus on marginalized women in need. She has focused her support in the last two years towards women’s shelters, understanding the increased needs as a direct impact of the pandemic.