August 5, 2015

The Lack of Women in Leadership Roles & How We Can Change That

Fact: The majority of the nation’s healthcare workforce is comprised of women.
Fact: Only a fraction of the top leadership positions, particularly in the C-Suite, are women.
Fact: We can change that.

The numbers of women in executive positions are rising, but not fast enough. This is true across all industries. According to a 2013 article, from 1995-2012, there was a 4.2% growth of women in Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000 leadership positions. On the surface, this might seem like a success, but not when you consider that, as of 2013, women make up nearly half of the United States’ entire workforce (and more than half of healthcare’s workforce).

The healthcare industry isn’t immune. In fact, according to a 2012 study, the healthcare industry is comprised of 75% women; in spite of this, only 18% of hospital CEOs are women. In 2013, great strides were made for women in healthcare, as, for the first time, a female president was elected to the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE). Also in that year, ACHE welcomed its first-ever all-female executive team.

Despite these successes, however, the numbers remain troublesome. Healthcare is female-dominated, a fact which its leadership fails to reflect. Furthermore, the industry would greatly benefit from the added diversity, as diverse organizational teams have been proven to bring variety to outlooks and perspectives, making problem solving more robust, concise, and straightforward than ever.

One of the challenges facing women hoping to advance into leadership rules is the lack of mentorships available. Because C-Suite and leadership positions are male-dominated, some suggest that men have more opportunities of advancing through the mentorship of a male senior mentor, while women don’t always have the same opportunities.

So what can we do to change things? First, generating awareness is key. As natural collaborators and communicators, women come equipped with the skills needed in a leadership environment. By recognizing and investing in the power and potential of women, the healthcare industry can work to build future leaders and to strengthen and diversify their executive teams.

More than anything, however, there needs to be a mental shift from the way things were to the way things need to be during this era of healthcare of reform. On August 20th, we will be exploring this topic and more at the Women Leaders in Healthcare Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. This full-date conference offers educational sessions, as well as plenty of networking opportunities for attendees. Join us by registering today!

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