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Gender Parity in Healthcare May Lead to Greater Profits


A majority of healthcare workers are women, but few make it to leadership roles. Here are the surprising reasons behind the gap.

Business meeting

Greater gender parity in leadership would have a positive effect on healthcare systems and hospitals, according to a recent Korn Ferry survey of CEOs, CHROs, and other C-suite healthcare executives. While the vast majority of healthcare workers are women, more needs to be done to advance women to the top.

In fact, while almost 80% of the broad healthcare workforce is women, only 19% of hospitals are led by women, and only 4% of healthcare companies have a female CEO.

Nearly two-thirds (63%) of the survey respondents say that compared to five years ago, there is more opportunity for advancement for women to senior positions in their organization. However, 55% believe women in their organization have been passed over for a promotion on the basis of their gender.

“There is a clear business imperative to creating an environment that is conducive to helping women advance in the healthcare industry,” Katie Bell, Korn Ferry global lead for the Healthcare Sector, said in a company release.

Fifty-nine percent of respondents say their organizations would be more profitable with greater gender parity in leadership, and 64% say greater parity would result in less employee turnover.

Related article: Top ways to curtail gender bias in healthcare

The survey shows a lack of focus on helping women advance in their careers. Nearly two-thirds (64%) rank women development programs in their organization as fair, poor or non-existent, and 76% say their organizations do not have sponsorship programs to help women advance.

In the workplace, 54% of survey respondents believed that women struggle with self-promotion compared with men with the purpose of advancing their own careers. Meanwhile, 62% say that women get promoted by working hard and being recognized for their efforts, instead of asking their boss for a promotion.

“To move the needle in having more women in leadership positions in healthcare, there must be a shared responsibility between professional women and their organization,” said Bell. “Key to this is engaging organizational leaders to become more agile and adaptive in how they recognize, support and develop female leaders at all levels of the organization.”

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