At last week’s The 2019 OPEN MINDS Executive Leadership Retreat, one area of focus was “growing” women in leadership positions in health and human services. Interestingly, this year, 51% of the attendees were women. We held two sessions at the Retreat focused on women in leadership. My colleague Monica E. Oss held the first meeting of female chief executive officers in health and human services, and OPEN MINDS Executive Vice President Casey Miller facilitated a great discussion session, “Women In Leadership: A Small Group Discussion Session On Supporting Women In Management Roles.”
The focus on women is an important one at a time when talent is short, and women are under-represented in the management ranks. While women make up about 80% of the health care workforce overall, when it comes to holding leadership roles and c-suite executive positions, women comprise less than 20% (see Labor Force Statistics From The Current Population Survey). Just 3% of health care chief executive officers are women, and only another 3% serve as chief medical officers. These stats remain, despite evidence that having women in corporate leadership roles in positively associated with improved financial performance, and less discriminatory attitudes towards female leadership (see Is Gender Diversity Profitable? Evidence From A Global Survey).
In recent years, women in leadership roles has shown some growth, but it remains incredibly slow. Between 2015 and 2018, the percentage of women board members at Fortune 500 health care companies increased from 21% to just 22.6%, and the percentage of women executives only increased from 20.0% to 21.9% (see Gender Inequality Still Plagues The Health Care Industry).
The executives participating in the discussion had some great experiences to share – and some very concrete advice for organizations that want to increase the number of women leaders in their midst. That advice was to mentor potential women leaders, include women in succession planning, and address compensation disparities.
Mentor Potential Women Leaders—For executive team members and managers in leadership roles, it is important to have a deliberate program to provide mentorship for women with high leadership potential. Providing high potential young women with a “trusted advisor” is useful in assisting women is providing feedback and advice and assisting women in navigating organizational culture. Mentors can assist in getting their mentees exposure—to be “seen and heard” by the executive team—and develop a plan for building their leadership profile.
Include Women In Succession Planning—Organizations can use succession planning to boost gender diversity in the executive suite. This begins by identifying the best female candidates in the organization and providing them with a clearer pathway to the top of the organization and equipping them with the skills and knowledge to pave the way. The recruitment process for executive roles also needs to address gender diversity. For each senior role, organizations should assure there is a diverse shortlist. And, in an interesting study, organizations with a gender diverse board of directors are more likely to consider women in filling executive roles (for more, see Lessons From The Leading Edge Of Gender Diversity).
Addressing Compensation & Compensation Disparities—In adding more women to your roles, it is important to address compensation. Compensation and compensation disparities should be transparent. This starts with doing research to identify salaries for each role and assuring gender pay equity in each role. There is a $20,000 average different in compensation between male and female health and human service managers (see The 10 Jobs With The Biggest Gender Pay Gaps). And, gender pay disparities extend to physicians. Mean annual compensation for female physicians in family practice, internal medicine, and pediatrics is lower than that of their male counterparts—$219,995, $215,012, and $170,535, respectively, or $4,448, $29,211, and $23,402 less than men in similar positions (see Gender Pay Gaps In Hospital Medicine). Talented women are less likely to stay in organizations where compensation disparities are not addressed.
Finally, to make these changes sustainable, executive leadership must be committed to an inclusive environment. The tone for not permitting bias and having an equal playing field for women—and all team members—starts at the very top (see The New Wave Of Women Leaders: Breaking The Glass Ceiling Or Facing The Glass Cliff?). To retain the best women leaders, women must be represented in roles at all levels of the organization: the board of directors, the c-suite, and the direct service team.
For more on building your female talent pool, check out these resources from The OPEN MINDS Circle Industry Library:
- Developing Female Leaders In Your Organization
- Cultivating Female Leaders: Achieving Gender Balance In Your Organization
- What I Learned From My Mentors & Why It Matters To Have Mentors
- Why It’s So Hard To Fill Those Executive Positions At Behavioral Health & Social Services Provider Organizations
- Do You Have The Transformational Leadership Skills You Need?
- The ‘Big Five’ Manager Skills
- Embrace The Chaos With Servant Leadership
- The Best Leaders Are The Best Learners
- Courage As The Leadership Differentiator
- Great Leadership Is A Habit
For more on how to successfully lead your organization, stay tuned over the next few days as we discuss leadership in the context of value-based reimbursement, changing regulations, and organizational challenges. You can follow us on twitter @openmindscircle #OMLeadership.