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Breaking Healthcare’s Glass Ceiling: Women in Leadership

While the healthcare industry continues to grow and evolve, there’s still work to be done to achieve gender equality at the leadership level. Women represent the majority of entry-level frontline workers, however their representation drastically decreases as we move up the ladder to the C-suite. This blog post will explore this important topic in greater detail, including:

  • Women in leadership within the healthcare industry
  • Current implications of the lack of women representation
  • What is needed to drive meaningful change

The Evolution of Representation in Healthcare

While studies have shown a modest increase in the proportion of women holding executive positions in healthcare organizations over the past decade, gender disparities persist, with women still being underrepresented in top leadership roles. Additionally, it’s important to note that the challenges that women as a whole face are magnified for women of color. Across healthcare, the share of white women in entry-level positions starts at 46%, while women of color account for only 20% of entry-level representation. By the time they reach the C-suite, their share has dropped to just 5%.

This is due to several obstacles and barriers that hinder the advancement of women in healthcare leadership, including unconscious biases and limited access to mentorship opportunities. Addressing these challenges requires a multifaceted approach, involving changes in organizational policies, cultural shifts, and targeted support systems for women in leadership.

Benefits of Gender Diversity in Leadership

A lack of women leadership has far-reaching implications across industries – but especially in healthcare, where gender disparities within provider organizations can lead to disparities in patient outcomes. For example, women’s health issues may receive inadequate attention, resulting in a lack of appropriate research, policy development, and patient care. Greater diversity throughout an organization can help companies more closely reflect the patients and customers they serve, strengthening the healthcare ecosystem for all.

Beyond this, diverse leadership teams have been shown to make better decisions, drive innovation, and improve financial performance. In fact, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25% more likely to have better than average profitability than those in the fourth quartile, and organizations with top quartile ethnic and cultural diversity on executive teams surpassed those metrics even further. By embracing diversity, the healthcare industry can foster a culture of inclusivity and drive positive change.

Building a Supportive Community

Creating a supportive community is crucial for women in healthcare leadership. By fostering connections, collaboration, and knowledge sharing among women leaders, the industry can drive change and advance gender equality.

A few helpful tools to leverage are networking events, conferences, and online platforms that provide opportunities for mentorship, peer support, and professional growth. By building a supportive community, the healthcare industry can accelerate progress and create a more inclusive environment.

Achieving gender equality in healthcare leadership requires ongoing efforts and a collective commitment to change — by the C-suite and beyond. Together, we can create a future where women have equal opportunities to contribute to and shape the healthcare landscape, driving positive change and improving outcomes for all.

Learn more about how PointClickCare is prioritizing Women in Leadership from my friend and colleague Kari Hall, Chief Strategy Officer at PointClickCare.

August 21, 2023