New Healthcare Industry Consortium Gathered for First Solutions Summit

On the heels of a 2018 strategic closed-door meeting at Bristol-Myers Squibb, more than 40 senior executives from the newly established industry consortium the Gender Parity Collaborative convened for their first annual spring Solutions Summit, hosted by one of the Collaborative’s founding members and pharmaceutical industry influential Pfizer.

The Spring Solutions Summit focused on selected actionable solutions for immediate impact.

Speakers and experts included Laurie Cooke, HBA’s president and CEO, outside D&I leaders such as Sodexo, and leading subject matter experts such as the Inclusionary Leadership Group (home of the BetterMan Conference), Catalyst and Diversity Best Practices.

These leaders convened to collectively propel the momentum of the Collaborative and used this collective brain trust to:

  • Share best practices and real-life challenges in order to accelerate gender parity within their own organizations
  • Develop and foster practical, and tactical applications that will work to accelerate gender parity in their companies
  • Identify innovative options that will drive greater systemic changes

At this meeting, the Collaborative focused on two identified key opportunities:

  • To create environments which develop, sustain and reward male ally-ship that will help accelerate change;
  • To ensure increased accountability at all levels of management by connecting gender diversity results with business goals, compensation and recognition.

Collaborative companies have committed to taking immediate actions on these priorities and will reconvene this fall to continue addressing other identified key priorities to move the gender parity needle further faster in the healthcare and life-science industry.

Solutions Summit host Rod MacKenzie, EVP, chief development officer of Pfizer shared:

“While we are been working to drive change, we are not satisfied. Our internal initiatives and efforts aren’t enough at this point. We’re going to challenge ourselves by examining the data, comparing it with our peers and holding each other accountable for making those numbers rise and generating measurable results.”

Forbes: Power Of The Pack: Women Who Support Women Are More Successful

I always say a woman alone has power; collectively we have impact. Traditionally we have been taught to be competitive with one another, because there was such a scarcity of jobs at the top. It’s so clear that strategy doesn’t work. The truth is that raising each other up and channeling the power of collaboration is truly how we’ll change the equation—and have a lot more fun along the way.

There is a boys’ club where women never felt comfortable, so we decided to create a Girls’ Lounge more than six years ago where everyone feels like they belong. We discovered two things:

    1. There is power in the pack.
    2. You realize your strengths make the table better.

Today we’ve connected more than 17,500 corporate women and female entrepreneurs, and evolved the name to The FQ Lounge, where women are still the majority, but men feel welcome and comfortable.

We need to reverse the stereotype that women don’t support other women. There is research that shows women in particular benefit from collaboration over competition. Study after study shows women who support women are more successful in business.

The reason? Women trying to rise up into leadership face cultural and systemic hurdles that make it harder for them to advance, such as unconscious bias. The study suggests that a way to overcome some of these hurdles is to form close connections with other women, who can share experiences from women who have been there, done that—from how to ask for what you’re worth to bringing your unique talents to leadership.

“There’s a new girls’ club that we didn’t have before, because the workplace was largely male dominated,” says Jocelyn Greenky, an office culture and politics expert and CEO of Sider Road. “Now that so many more women are entering the workplace, we’re finding our voice. We’re also building circles of trust with one another because we may be experiencing similar hurdles, and have each other’s backs.”

Laura McGee, CEO of Diversio, which uses artificial intelligence to help companies overcome diversity challenges, agrees.  “Across all our companies in multiple sectors and countries, we see access to networks as one of the key barriers preventing women from advancing. We know that women are under-sponsored by senior men, and may need to compensate by developing strong professional relationships with other women. My hypothesis on the research findings is that these women are effectively acting as mentors and sponsors for one another.”

Here is advice from women leaders on how to find and cultivate a close network of female professionals.

Take the word “work” out of networking. There is power in relationships that extends beyond a generic introduction. When you create connections based on shared interests and goals, you’ll be more successful at your job, because people want to work with people they know and like. The Girls’ Lounge first started because I didn’t want to go to a male-dominated conference alone, and so I invited some girlfriends to come along and asked them to invite their friends.

“The Girls’ Lounge has impacted me both personally and professionally.  Most industries are so siloed, but the lounge breaks down these barriers and lets you connect with women you would never even imagine,” says Gail Tifford, Chief Brand Officer of WW, formerly Weight Watchers. “And that’s when magic can happen.”

“My advice to women is to reframe what “networking” is,” says Tifford.  “The fact alone that the word has “work” in it creates pressure for women to feel like it’s something they have to do, and then I see women stress about how to do it.  Simply putting yourself in environments that give you the opportunity to meet with peers and get to know each other and share experiences can be a game changer. And chances are, if you make meaningful connections, they are ones that will last a lifetime.”

Prioritize relationship building. You don’t do business with a company, you do business with people you like and trust. I have always prioritized time with my girlfriends. “To make these connections, you first have to decide if it is important to you,” says Erica Keswin, author of Bring Your Human to Work and founder of the Spaghetti Project.  “Does your calendar reflect your values? A lot of time it doesn’t, not because we’re bad people, but because we have so much on our plates. Ask yourself, ‘Are relationships important and why?’ It could be because you want a new job, or to move up in your career. We’re not connecting when left to our own devices, so schedule time for it.”

Know that connection building isn’t one and done. Networking is one and done: It’s where you shake someone’s hand and give them a business card. Where does that leave you? With a stack of business cards on your desk. A relationship, on the other hand, touches your heart and creates an everlasting partnership. To keep connections alive, they must be nurtured.

“Seek out people who you admire. Ask for advice, and follow up. Participate wherever and however you can. In short, be a doer!” says Linda Yaccarino Chairman, Advertising and Partnerships at NBCUniversal.

Amplify other women. I love the Shine Theory, which is the idea that when you help another woman rise, we all shine. “Build other women up! If you see your co-worker doing a great job, give them credit…tell your boss or other co-workers,” says Rebecca Wiser, cofounder and director of communications at Womaze, an app centered around self-empowerment for women. “At first it may seem like you’re taking attention away from yourself, but you’re actually showing that you’re a supportive team player as well as an inspiring leader—and secure enough in yourself to praise others.”

Find your squad—and tap into them. Who would be your go-to group of girls if you had an emergency, needed honest advice, or wanted a key business introduction? When it comes to building relationships, you often get what you give.

Pam Kaufman, President of Viacom/Nickelodeon Global Consumer Products, shares this advice that she once received: “Richelle Parham, the former CMO for eBay who sits on the board for Best Buy, once asked me, ‘Who is on your team?’ She didn’t mean people I managed, but who I had in my professional life that served as my support network. Taking Richelle’s advice, I began building my squad – people I could bounce ideas off of, go to for advice, pick me up when I needed a boost. Today, my squad is so important for my career and my mental well-being. Not only do we support each other, but we act as connectors to people and opportunities. Whenever one of us comes across a great opportunity, we immediately send it to each other. It is amazing to be part of a group of women who want you to be your very best and actively help you to succeed.”

We’re better together. As Madeleine Albright said, “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” As we say from personal experience, “There is a special place in heaven for women who support other women.”

Shelley Zalis is CEO of The Female Quotient, which is in the business of gender equality. Follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.


Photo credit: Getty 


The HBA Responds to The Lancet’s Gender Parity Special Edition

This week, The Lancet, a highly respected healthcare industry publication, dedicates an entire issue to advancing gender equity in science, medicine and global health. The collection of papers highlights that gender equity is not only a matter of justice and rights but is crucial to producing the best research and patient care.

As a healthcare gender parity advocate for more than four decades, the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA) applauds The Lancet for its in-depth reporting on gender equity in the workplace—reinforcing HBA’s 40 years of work to elevate the issue to mainstream awareness. The HBA also supports the frequent case made in the report for systemic change and a greater emphasis on the need for extraordinary commitment and leadership from the highest levels of management to bolster those contributions by individual women already providing strong leadership.

As stated in The Lancet’s editorial: “It is well-established that women are underrepresented in positions of power and leadership…in scientific and health disciplines across the world… Despite decades of recognition, these problems have proved stubbornly persistent…”

The editorial and other comprehensive research and opinions shared echo the systemic barriers that have slowed the progress of achieving gender parity addressed in the and McKinsey & Company’s 2018 Women in the Workplace study of which the HBA is now recognized by McKinsey as an industry champion.

The study data clearly make the business case. While women in healthcare make up 63 percent of entry-level workers and 58 percent of managers, they represent just 31 percent of SVPs and 25 percent of C-suite leaders. Despite numerous studies extolling the benefits derived from gender equity, many companies are simply not prioritizing this and devoting sufficient resources to ensure gender equity in the workplace. There is a strong pipeline of women leaders ready to step into senior roles and contribute to the data proving gender parity is good for business.

This is precisely why the HBA established the Gender Parity Collaborative—to help companies establish the necessary architecture and drive organizational change supported from the top down in order to build inclusive cultures and achieve firm gender parity goals backed by strong and transparent performance accountability metrics.


HBA honored to be Part of Women in the Workplace Study

“Women are Leaning In. Now companies need to Lean In too” according to Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and founder of and based on their latest study.

The Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA) was honored to be part of the 23 October  launch of the fourth edition of the Women in the Workplace study organized by LeanIn in partnership with McKinsey.

women in work place
Laurie Cooke, Sheryl Sandberg, Marie-Caroline Strok

The results are in: the pace of change is too slow and seems to be stalled according to the 2018 report analysis. Females in leadership positions remain nearly unchanged compared to last year starting at 48 percent representation at entry level, dropping to 38 percent at manager level and decreasing even further to 23 percent and 22 percent female representation for VP and C-suite levels.

Silver lining: a lot of companies are committed to making the change happen and understand the competitive advantage diversity represents. This year was the biggest turn-out for McKinsey capturing D&I data for 279 companies – their largest cohort to date since the beginning of the study in 2015.

The HBA has recognized the need to accelerate change within the healthcare/life-science industry, moreover given the significant investment made every year to support D&I in our sector. To enable this ambition, the HBA Gender Parity Collaborative was launched this spring with the strong commitment of our 12 first founding members organizations, as well as a new prestigious collaboration with McKinsey/LeanIn and their Women in the Workplace study, to help us track and measure progress.

The Collaborative is a consortium of companies – together we will set strategic priorities, implement solutions and most importantly measure results yearly. The Collaborative will be meeting for the first time end of November 2018.