It’s been two years since the infamous “more Michaels than women” agenda debacle at JP Morgan’s annual Healthcare Conference. While there has been some effort to do better by way of on-stage representation at the conference, the speaker schedules still clearly remain unbalanced. But the lists of speakers at this conference is only part of the problem. It highlights a much more important fact that overall, the healthcare industry continues to lag in female leadership.
About 80% of the healthcare workforce is made up of women, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But fewer than 20% hold key leadership roles. Only 19% of hospitals and 4% of healthcare companies are led by women, Korn Ferry found in a related paper. This is a huge crisis of leadership for our industry. Not because men aren’t up to the task, but because women bring unique characteristics and skill sets to the job. A lack of women in these key leadership roles means that we as an industry don’t get to benefit from the insights that stem from these skills.
As the CEO of a growing healthcare software company, I am committed to hiring, promoting, and mentoring women in my company. I am proud that our Chief Growth Officer, Chief Operating Officer, and Chief Financial Officer are all women, and that they were the team that accompanied me to the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference this year. They hold critical roles at IMO, and they were the individuals who were best positioned to lead important meetings with industry leaders who need to know more about the essential role our technology is playing to reduce administrative burdens and help clinicians deliver better care. A few attendees even commented on our “girl gang” and how unique it was to meet with an all-female team.
I challenge myself and my peers at other organizations in the healthcare industry to make 2020 a year of greater leadership diversity. While it may be a while before there are more women than men on stage at large-scale healthcare conferences, I do believe that women in leadership roles committed to hiring and mentoring women will create a force for change.