One need only to look at the honorees on this list—the Top 25 Women in Healthcare—to see that the news story confirms what we have known for a long time: Both gender diversity and ethnic diversity are essential to success in the mission and business of healthcare today.
In our conversations with women leaders, though, we know there is still much work to be done. We need more women CEOs and board members—and more female C-suite leaders in all departments. Our experiences in 30-plus years in leadership and talent management correspond with a new survey by Rock Health that reports women now constitute 34% of hospital executives. That's a start. Yet only one of the healthcare companies on the Fortune 500 has a female CEO in a country in which the government itself reports that “women make approximately 80% of the healthcare decisions for their families.”
It's actually more pronounced in the business world at large. A report by CNN Money recently found that women hold only 14.2% of the top five leadership roles at companies listed in the Standard & Poor's 500. In addition, the study found that those 500 companies had only 24 women CEOs (4.8%). “Corporate America,” CNN concluded, “has few female CEOs, and the pipeline of future women leaders is alarmingly thin.”
In this, we'd advocate that healthcare has an opportunity to be the industry that leads the way to a better leadership outcome for our country. Beyond reading the success stories of the top women leaders in the following pages, we'd encourage you to save the date of Aug. 20 and join us in Nashville for the gala honoring these executives. Their leadership is worthy of celebration—and absolutely essential for healthcare to thrive in the years to come.