Equality in Healthcare Leadership

March 4, 2020 RLDatix Marketing

Some are calling this decade the ‘roaring 20s,’ and with mounting global tensions around climate change and social equity, it’s no surprise people are making the comparison. 

An issue that’s attracted significant attention in recent years has been gender equality. The #MeToo and Time’s Up movements have forced society to face the reality of gender power imbalances, particularly in the workplace. On March 8, the 109th annual International Women’s Day (IWD) is spreading the message “an equal world is an enabled world” through the hashtag #EachforEqual. 

This year’s theme is especially relevant for the healthcare industry, in which females make up 70 percent of the global health workforce, but only fill 25 percent of leadership roles, as of 2019. The World Health Organization (WHO) also reports that health and social sectors have between a 26 and 29 percent gender pay gap in middle- to high-income countries. 

Despite this, there is some evidence that the industry is changing. Last year, for the first time, the Association of American Medical Colleges reported that the majority of U.S. medical school candidates were female (50.5 percent) and not male (49.4 percent). For 2019’s IWD, WHO noted that 60 percent of its senior leadership positions are filled by women. A few months later, in July, the National Institutes of Health announced that 10 of its 27 institutes and centres are being led by women — a first for the organization.  

RLDatix customer, Christy Weber of MidMichigan Health, highlights how her organization is taking an important step in improving representation on leadership teams. 

“Females are now equally represented in an executive leadership role throughout our organization. It’s great to see the number of roles that are now led by females that would have been male driven in the past.”

While these statistics seem promising, it has taken years for women to get to this point. And even still, for the majority of females — particularly those from marginalized communities — they rarely make it to the top. 

To ensure that leadership roles achieve more gender diversity, organizations need to understand and remove the barriers that have historically held women back. 

Academic literature lists gender discrimination and bias, workplace violence and harassment, inflexible work arrangements and poor policies as some of the biggest challenges for women in the workforce. 

Robin Woltman, of Washington University School of Medicine, highlights the gender neutral aspect of leadership and the impact of female leadership in the workplace. 

“Leadership skills are really gender neutral, but my experience has been that female leadership is inclusive, with a focus on everyone winning, rather than there being winners and there being losers.”

Diversity also benefits organizational performance as it drives innovative and creative solutions, which lead to better financial outcomes. 

Many international organizations are taking steps toward inclusivity. For example, WHO’s Gender Equity Hub is currently helping with the development of “gender  policy” and the Time’s Up movement recently launched a healthcare branch to address sexual harassment and gender discrimination in the workplace. 

But there are several ways individual organizations can empower their employees including female mentorship, leadership workshops, engaging male allies and creating flexible work environments. 

At RLDatix, we’re proud to support IWD’s #EachforEqual message and look forward to continuing support for equal opportunities across all levels of healthcare. Happy International Women’s Day! #IWD2020


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