By Pamela Gould, chief growth officer, AristaMD.
Women occupy 65% of the healthcare workforce yet seem to be missing in C-suite roles, holding approximately 30% of senior leadership positions and a mere 13% of coveted CEO titles. With female consumers making the majority of buying and usage decisions when it comes to healthcare products and services, the disparity between female leaders and end users in the industry is difficult to ignore.
In fact, we must pay attention to this gap that is slowly closing at a snail’s pace, as fortune 500 healthcare company boards slightly grew female leadership from 22.6% in 2018 to 26% the following year. And although U.S. hospitals tend to have more women at the top, a 2019 Rock Health report revealed that the metric of female representation is just over 37% in this arena. Certainly, progress is being made, but the diversity of welcoming women into leadership roles in all facets of healthcare – particularly healthtech – is crucial to meeting the diverse care needs of all patients and consumers across the board.
Diversity is a Must in the Industry
Spanning all industries, diversity is crucial at all levels of the workforce. Not only is it socially the right thing to do, but studies prove that a diverse workplace improves financial returns by 35%. Additionally, having a variety of perspectives boosts innovation, creativity, decision making, and opportunities to reach new customer demographics like never before.
Inclusive companies are almost two times more innovative and are better at making decisions 87% of the time. Similar to how diverse voices drive business outcomes, gender diversity is needed to continue pushing tech advancements in healthcare to deliver improved care for people of all backgrounds.
In the healthtech sphere specifically, women make up 20% of executive roles at the top 100 medical device companies. While many companies are hiring diversity and inclusion leadership roles to quicken the pace of change in the lack of diversity in healthtech, it’s crucial to share how gender diversity is taking control of the market and benefiting the industry. As a female executive of a telehealth platform with over 15 years of industry experience, I have seen significant growth as well as process and product improvements in our company – a company that is proud to possess a workplace culture that has been recognized by Forbes, Comparably, Inc. Magazine, Modern Healthcare, USA Today, and San Diego Magazine.
Femtech is on the Rise
A term coined in 2016 by Ida Tin, founder of Clue, femtech is being called the future of healthcare. The femtech industry encompasses software and technology that address needs specific to women’s health. Generating $820 million in global revenue in 2019 alone to serve a market where women spend an estimated $500 billion annually on medical expenses, the industry is addressing women’s health issues in a way that is long overdue.
From virtual care to menopause, pregnancy and fertility solutions and beyond, femtech addresses a unique yet booming market in spaces that were once stigmatized or ignored by the tech industry. And with the rise of femtech comes the increase of women health leaders, as 70% of femtech companies analyzed by McKinsey had at least one female founder as compared to the norm of 20% of female leaders in new companies. Interestingly, research suggests that women-led inventor teams are more likely to solve for both male and female-oriented conditions while males solve for solely male conditions; thus, women are pivotal in advancing inclusivity within the healthtech industry to improve care for society as a whole.
It’s time to close the gender gap in healthcare leadership and catapult more female leaders to where they deserve to be at the helm. Healthtech is a rapidly evolving industry in a thriving market, where a stronger focus on diversity is a must in order for organizations to thrive, and where female leaders are a pivotal part of their continued success. Extending leadership opportunities to women in all facets of healthcare is not only socially the right thing to do, but is crucial to continue to make strides toward ending gender disparities that hinder our industry.