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Stalled Progress Requires Bold Action for Gender Parity

Updated: Dec 16, 2019

From 2015 to 2018, corporate America made virtually no progress toward achieving gender parity, according to and McKinsey & Company’s fourth annual Women in the Workplace study. In healthcare specifically, women remain severely underrepresented at the highest levels of leadership. While women in healthcare make up 63% of entry-level workers and 58% of managers, they represent just 31% percent of SVPs and 25% of C-suite leaders. As an advocate for gender parity in the workplace, the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA) signed on recently as an industry champion of the Women in the Workplace study. With insight from the data, the HBA can better understand the barriers to progress and work to drive systemic and impactful change. What’s more, the increased number of companies the HBA brought to the study means that our industry now has richer data.

Why has progress stalled?

This study shows that the often-touted reasons of women choosing family over work or not stepping up to ask for a raise or promotion are not true. In fact, women and men leave companies at the same rate, and just 2% of women who leave say they’re doing so to focus on their family.

While women are doing their part, companies simply aren’t doing theirs. This can be seen as the result of two main lapses identified in corporate culture: a lack of adequate support for women to become and to be successful leaders and a lack of support for gender parity as the business priority it needs to be.

On an individual level, the study found that women report receiving less support from managers and less time with senior leaders – both known drivers of workplace advancement; one in five women report being the only woman, or one of the only women, in the room at work; women are twice as likely as men to be mistaken for someone more junior; and 55% of senior women leaders say they’ve been sexually harassed.

On a business level, the study revealed that only 38% of companies set targets for gender parity, just 42% hold their senior leaders accountable for making progress toward these targets, and a mere 12% share related metrics with their employees. All this despite accepted best practices that any successful business priority requires clear goals, direct accountability, and transparent metrics.

What Can We Do to Change This Trajectory?

The statistics are clear – slow and steady isn’t working. Our only choice to affect real change is to be bold – as individuals, as companies, and as an industry. We must push not for promises but for concrete actions and measurable results. And we must work together to help companies establish the frameworks needed to build inclusive cultures and achieve firm gender parity goals backed by strong and transparent performance accountability metrics.

To learn how the 12 founding member organisations of the HBA’s Gender Parity Collaborative are joining forces to take bold action, visit the Gender Party Collaborative website.

Visit HBA Europe online.

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