AN INTERVIEW WITH CECILIA MCKENNEY, SVP AND CHIEF HUMAN RESOURCES OFFICER, QUEST DIAGNOSTICS
Why was it critical for your organization to be involved in the Gender Parity Collaborative?
Inclusion inspires innovation, a key company value at Quest Diagnostics. We know that innovation happens through collaboration and experimentation. The Collaborative provides a great laboratory for ideas to germinate and be exchanged to accelerate gender parity in all the member companies. Participating in the Collaborative is a way for us to proudly and publicly demonstrate our commitment to gender parity and gain access to a broad array of resources that helps us act on our goals in a faster and more effective manner.
As one of your organization’s leaders, why are you personally committed to advancing gender parity in the workplace?
It’s understood broadly that diversity in the workplace makes good business sense. It enables companies to attract and retain the best talent, deliver superior results and all of that is aligned with the interests of shareholders. That said, today’s rate of improvement is simply not fast enough… incrementalism does not drive change. By participating in the Collaborative, we have an opportunity to dig deep and uncover ideas on how to support women in new ways and overcome barriers to success. Equipped with these insights, we can accelerate the rate of change.
Why has it been necessary to create the Collaborative—this first-ever industry consortium?
Few industries compare to healthcare in its importance to society, its complexity and its demand for quality. Quest Diagnostics alone touches the lives of one in three adult Americans annually. By establishing this Collaborative, the member companies are taking the first vital steps to ensuring broader diversity of thought is represented across all levels in healthcare focused on gender parity. Frankly, we know there is truth in the old axiom, “what gets measured gets done.” The Collaborative expects companies to commit to improvements, and there is a collective accountability to meet those commitments. Healthcare companies employ higher percentages of women which means we need to be the leader in gender parity.
How does your participation in the Collaborative complement what you are already doing?
In pursuit of our goals to support women at Quest, we launched a company-wide employee business network called Women in Leadership (WIL). WIL’s goal is to cultivate a more effective, diverse and sustainable organization by increasing educational and networking opportunities for women. WIL has grown to over 1,300 members of which more than 100 participated in a mentorship program last year alone. As a testament to the pivotal role our employee business networks play, WIL was the pioneer behind our relationship with the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA), a relationship we look forward to continuing to expand upon. The Collaborative helps us make focused improvements in supporting women at Quest.
For companies who have yet to join, what do you think they’re missing out on?
The Collaborative offers a forum for accelerating change that on your own is very challenging to achieve. Just two years in, this consortium is already demonstrating its impact on participating companies. Seventy-two percent have already observed increased support for gender parity and nearly half have already attested the Collaboration has helped them advance their women’s agenda. That said, there’s always more opportunity; the more companies participate, the more representative and valuable our research, the more impactful our dialogue and the more plentiful our resource of best practices. It’s a win/win partnership; you do not want to be left behind.