A Rising Tide Lifts All Gender-Balanced Boats Bound for HIT Boardrooms

The dearth of women on company boards has been well publicized. Health IT executive Carla Smith – the driving force behind the HIMSS compensation salary and the wage gap it has typically highlighted – wrote about it on this very blog several months ago. The stats she shared were sobering:

  • 55 percent of companies that fell off the Fortune 1000 index had one, or zero, women on their board, according to a 2017 report from 2020 Women on Boards.
  • Nearly 20 percent of publicly-traded health sector businesses have female board members.
  • 27 percent of hospital boards include women.

Last year’s statistics were just as much cause for concern. According to Fortune, about 25 percent of board seats were occupied by women in 2018. Technology and healthcare – industries with a well-publicized lack of female board representation – both had a meager 17 percent of board seats occupied by women.

It’s no secret the health IT industry has a lot of work to do when it comes to ensuring gender-balanced boards, and, thankfully, it looks as if the industry (not to mention industry-at-large) is starting to pay attention. Recent headlines and social media posts indicate a groundswell of support for gender-balancing initiatives as company boards seek and announce new members.

Amazon, which has consistently made headlines over the last several years for its healthcare moves, upped its percentage of female board representation to 45 with the addition of former PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi, a woman well-known as an advocate for women in business.

The fledgling HLTH conference has partnered with Deerfield Management and Oxeon Partners to bring their Break into the Boardroom Match Program to its event in October. Attendees will have the opportunity to schedule one-on-one meetings with qualified female executives interested in boardroom opportunities. (Click here for more info about conference’s program.)

As with all things health IT, the proof will be in the data. HLTH founder Jonathan Weiner says, “[W]e have the opportunity to deliver quantifiable results by tracking and reporting on the number of organizations meeting diverse candidates, the number of women exposed to board opportunities, the number of interviews conducted, and the number of boards that move forward with adding a woman they met as a result” of the program.

Women with boardroom aspirations should also check out C-Change, a professional development service for women led by Sue Schade and her team at StarBridge Advisors; industry-agnostic Women in the Boardroom; and CSweetener, which offers mentoring programs and other resources to help propel women into executive roles.

As the saying goes, a rising tide lifts all boats, and health IT finally seems poised to successfully steer women towards boardroom opportunities.


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