New Survey Highlights “Lethargic Pace” of Healthcare Gender Equity

Article from Alex Lash at Xconomy To close the healthcare and life sciences gender gap, there have been programs to move women into the boardroom. People are building mentoring networks. And there have been public pledges to do better.

But women in the industry aren’t optimistic about big changes coming soon, according to a new report and survey from digital healthcare investment firm Rock Health. The San Francisco firm, which also issues reports and advocates for the growing sector at the intersection of health, data science, and mobile communication, says it surveyed more than 300 women for its annual gender diversity report.

More than 45 percent of respondents believe it will take 25 years or more to reach gender parity in the workplace, and 16 percent say it will never happen. Only 7.5 percent said they could see parity happening in the next five years.

Eighty percent of American healthcare workers are women. But from Fortune 500 boardrooms to the venture investors fueling cutting-edge startups, women are conspicuously rare in leadership roles. According to the report, there are no female CEOs among the Fortune 500 health companies, which include drug makers, distributors, insurers, and laboratory test firms.

Elsewhere at the top, 22.1 percent of Fortune 500 board members are women—slightly higher than the Fortune 500 overall (20.2 percent). But as in the private and public biotech sectors, which the recruitment firm Liftstream has surveyed in recent years, there seems to be little improvement. “At this rate,” writes Halle Tecco, Rock Health founder emeritus, “we won’t reach 50/50 gender parity on healthcare boards until 2049.” That timeline jibes with Liftstream’s 2017 report on public biotech firms.

At the other end of the spectrum, Rock Health dug into the sector it knows best: digital health startups and the investors who fund them. Those data are mixed. On the positive side, new startups, a tiny sliver of the overall healthcare landscape, have a relatively high number of women CEOs, at 24 percent. (Rock Health counted firms founded in 2016 with at least $2 million in funding.) That’s more than double the total of digital health firms funded since 2011, which have nearly 10 percent women in the top executive seat.

But the positive trend line doesn’t apply to digital health investors—who poured more money into the sector through the first three quarters of this year than in any other full year on record. Of the 131 venture firms that have made five or more bets in the digital health space, women comprise 10.9 percent of partners, a drop from the 11.4 percent Rock Health tallied in 2015. And 61 percent of these firms have no female partners at all.

Women comprise about half of the rank and file in biotech. In healthcare overall, 80 percent of employees are women. Many diversity efforts are focused at the top of the corporate pyramid. For example, a board-training program that began inside Biogen (NASDAQ: BIIB) is now open to all. It has capacity for about 20 women a year.

To build personal and professional ties, venture veteran Lisa Suennen launched a mentor network called C-Sweetener last year. She wants it to be a “ for mentors,” with women signing up to connect with experienced life science veterans—both men and women—who have C-suite experience.

Asked about Rock Health’s numbers showing a relative boom of women CEOs in digital health, Suennen said she had not noticed the trend, but she would be thrilled if it’s true. “Perhaps because these new companies deal so much in patient empathy, communication and behavior change, they lend themselves to a more balanced gender sensibility,” Suennen said.

Getting to gender equality starts with realizing how far we have to go

McKinsey's 2017 Women in the Workplace Report is Out.

Women remain underrepresented at every level in corporate America, despite earning more college degrees than men for thirty years and counting. There is a pressing need to do more, and most organizations realize this: company commitment to gender diversity is at an all-time high for the third year in a row.

Despite this commitment, progress continues to be too slow—and may even be stalling. One of the most powerful reasons for this is a simple one: we have blind spots when it comes to diversity, and we can’t solve problems that we don’t see or understand clearly.

About the Study

Women in the Workplace 2017 is a comprehensive study of the state of women in corporate America. This research is part of a long-term partnership between LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company to give organizations the information they need to promote women’s leadership and foster gender equality.

This year 222 companies employing more than 12 million people shared their pipeline data and completed a survey of HR practices. In addition, more than 70,000 employees completed a survey designed to explore their experiences regarding gender, opportunity, career, and work-life issues. To our knowledge, this makes Women in the Workplace the largest study of its kind.

Aiming for the C-Suite?

Being smart, accomplished and talented is not enough to get to the C-Suite. As with any goal, if the C-Suite is where you want to be, you need a plan.  And then you need to get the best resources to help you implement your plan.

We recently sat down with Robin Toft, CEO of The Toft Group, an Executive Search firm specializing in placing C-Level executives in the Life Sciences throughout the United States.  After many years in executive search, Robin has seen the differences between how men and women navigate their career paths.  Robin shared with us what she considers the top resources every professional needs to move into the C-Suite and also shared some observations of how men and women navigate this path differently.

No. 1  Get a Mentor

These are people who are in the roles you want, who can share their experiences with you, provide feedback and direction.  Robin mentioned that mentors aren’t just for folks aspiring to be in the C-Suite, but for those who have reached that goal and want to stay relevant, continue to reach higher and share practices.

In many industries men are in the majority of the leadership roles, so having their insight can be invaluable.  Likewise, having a sponsor (a mentor who advocates for you) can make a difference in whether or not you are recognized for a role you want by giving you exposure to top management, putting you on projects that showcase your abilities, and helping you get recognition for the value you bring the organization.

Read more here.

Join CSweetener and Rock Health

SF friends! Join Rock Health and us on August 14 for a discussion on improving gender diversity. Sign up today! Event:

Much of the conversation around promoting women leadership in healthcare has been just that—conversation. To move from dialogue to action, we’re bringing both women and men to the table to hear what has and hasn’t worked in taking steps to improve gender diversity in leadership. Join Rock Health and CSweetener as we sit down and dive in with leaders who have done this well within their respective organizations.

This time, we're trying something a little bit different—attendees are encouraged to bring a plus-one (or more!) male colleague, boss, or executive to this discussion, aiming to equip all parties involved with the tools they need to go back to their organizations and effect change from within.

Light refreshments will be served. The entrance to the Rock Health office is on 3rd Street.


Sean Duffy, Co-founder and CEO, Omada Health

Christine Lemke, President, Evidation Health

Lisa Suennen, Managing Director, GE Ventures and Co-founder, CSweetener

Frank Williams, Co-founder and CEO, Evolent Health

Moderator: Megan Zweig, Director of Research, Rock Health


5:30-6:00pm Networking and refreshments

6:00-6:45pm Panel

6:45-7:30 Networking


Keeping women in the talent pipeline

ARTICLE WRITTEN BY:  Sally Blount, Dean, Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University  Getting more women to the C-Sute is important

If you believe, as I do, that getting more women to the “C-suite” and the board table is important, then we need more insight. First, we need to gain a greater understanding of why high-potential women do not choose to enter business at the same rates as their male peers. Second, for those who do choose to enter, we need to understand why these professional women exit at greater rates than do professional men. With this insight in hand, we can create new programs and pathways for supporting women across all phases of their careers.

No silver bullet

While there is no silver bullet, a growing body of evidence suggests that there are three key decision points, or “pivot points,” where women face issues that are unique biologically and culturally. These pivot points introduce predictable stressors into adult women’s lives and mean that, on average, high-potential women experience career choices, goals, and trade-offs differently than do high-potential men with similar education and experience. The three pivot points are outlined below.


Keep reading here:

Proving the ROI of Global Diversity and Inclusion Efforts

Just the Facts:

Cold, hard data is hard to ignore. No matter where in the world, when you can credibly show a business leader that current conditions are not going to take them where they need to go, you create in that leader a partner to drive change. Measurements enable you to create accountability and establish a baseline by which success or opportunities for improvement can be quanti ed. They also give you the ability to potentially quantify the value to be derived from diversity and inclusion as you raise the visibility of changing demographic issues and create links between them and overall business performance.

Stock Performance:

Greater diversity leads to nancial growth. When individuals are valued and empowered to be their best selves, tangible results can be seen in the bottom line. In a study of 506 U.S.-based businesses, each 1 percent increase in the rate of gender diversity resulted in an approximately 3 percent increase in sales revenues, up to the rate represented in the relevant population.10 Top-listed European companies with gender diversity in management achieved higher than average stock performance—64 percent versus 47 percent.11.

Read more here:

A state-by-state breakdown of the striking gender gap in doctors’ pay

If you’re a doctor in Charlotte, N.C., you’re ideally situated to benefit from the highest pay in the health care business. There’s just one catch: If you want that big money, you can’t be a woman.

That’s because the city also has the biggest gender wage gap in the nation. Female physicians in Charlotte make an average of 33 percent less than their male counterparts, a difference of $125,000 per year, according to a new report by the social media site Doximity.

Read more here.

CSweetener in Xcomony!

Amid Gender Gap Talk, Mentor Network Emerges For Women In Health, Bio

Alex Lash | Xconomy

It’s been more than a year since an infamous party with hired models in cocktail dresses captured the biotech community’s attention at the 2016 J.P. Morgan conference.

There has been plenty of talk since about closing biotech’s notable gender gap. At this year’s J.P Morgan conference, for example, a group of 100 life science executives and others pledged to follow a list of gender diversity “best practices.”

There has also been some action. Launched last fall, a nonprofit mentoring program for women in healthcare and biotech has already signed up about 100 women, according to its founder.

The group, called CSweetener, is meant as a boost for women who are nearing the executive level. It is the brainchild of life sciences investor Lisa Suennen, who is based in the San Francisco Bay Area and publishes a popular industry blog and podcast. Suennen and cofounder Lisa Serwin have cobbled together $125,000 in donations, grants, and sponsorships to commission a software platform that could be what Suennen calls a “ for mentors.” Because of her high profile, she says she receives frequent requests from women executives for help and advice. “If I said yes to everyone, I wouldn’t have time to work,” she says. “So I thought, ‘What if I can outsource this problem?'”

Finish reading here!

Transforming the C-suite: Developing and Advancing Women Leaders

Throughout history, successful companies, thriving economies and prosperous communities have been characterized by their openness to diverse ideas and their commitment to inclusion.

Yet despite progress in many areas, the evidence shows that there is much more work to be done, particularly in achieving true gender parity in all levels of business. While it is widely accepted today that the full inclusion of women executives improves a company’s financial performance, and a majority of organizations have a formal senior leadership inclusion initiative in place, the data shows that the number of women in these positions is still significantly low.

FORTUNE Knowledge Group, with sponsorship from Royal Bank of Canada, developed this study to reinforce the importance of female advancement by identifying the barriers in achieving gender parity and uncovering solutions to accomplish this goal.

The analysis in this study unearthed correlations between the profitability and revenue growth of companies that have achieved higher levels of gender diversity in senior positions. The findings in this paper outline six recommended practices to help address the low level of gender parity in major corporations.

Erasing the gender paradox in corporate America

U.S. business suffers from a gender paradox. Studies show companies with gender parity on boards and in the executive ranks outperform male-dominated ones. Yet, women represent only 9 percent of top management positions and 5 percent of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies.

University of Michigan business law professor Cindy Schipani and colleague Terry Dworkin of Indiana University and Seattle University say companies can improve gender representation and narrow the pay gap by changing salary and mentoring practices. They also suggest a legal tweak that would encourage companies to promote .

"This gender paradox is continually puzzling to me because the evidence is overwhelming that companies with women in the C-suite perform better," Schipani said. "The business case is well established, but we're not seeing it happen."

The legal reform they suggest is for courts to consider the lack of women in leadership positions a presumption of discrimination.

Read more at:

Missing Pieces Report: The 2016 Board Diversity Census of Women and Minorities

Board diversity trends

Shifting demographics in the United States have brought diversity to the forefront of issues on the minds of C-suite executives and corporate boards. As the population of the United States continues to diversify, companies may need to determine ways to gain more diversity of thought, experience, and background in both management as well as the boardroom.

This study is the outgrowth of a multi-year effort organized by the Alliance for Board Diversity, collaborating with Deloitte for the 2016 census, which has examined and chronicled the degree of participation of diverse professionals on boards of directors across America’s largest companies.

Originally organized as a “snapshot” of board diversity, the data, since accumulated over time, has allowed for the development of information on trends relative to overall diversity as well as the comparative differences in rates of representation among minorities and women over a period of more than a decade. This 2016 report highlights the progress to date that has been made for women and minorities on corporate boards. While there have been some gains, they have been negligible at best, and certainly not representative of the broad demographic changes we have seen in the United States in the same period of time. Reviewing the data provides insight into board diversity changes from 2012–2016 across the Fortune 500. A few specific summary items to note:

  • Some progress has been made for African Americans/Blacks in securing/holding Fortune 500 board seats. The bulk of the African American male increases occurred within the Fortune 100. There has been an increase in the Fortune 500 of African American/Black women board members by 18.4 percent since 2012, while the total number of African American male board members in the Fortune 500 had only an increase of 1 percent.
  • The percentage of Caucasian/White women currently holding Fortune 500 board seats has increased by 21.2 percent since 2012, and the number of Caucasian/White men has decreased by 6.4 percent.
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders have shown continued growth. However, their starting baseline was small—thus their overall representation is still roughly three percent of all board seats, representing a total of 167 seats, with an additional increase (46.7 percent) in Asian/Pacific Islander women.
  • African Americans/Blacks appear to have the highest rate of individuals serving on multiple boards—indicating that companies are going to the same individuals rather than expanding the pool of African American candidates for board membership.
  • Nominal gains have been accomplished for Hispanic/Latino men, while we saw a loss of two Fortune 500 board seats for Hispanic/Latino women since 2012.
  • Currently, 65 percent of Fortune 100 boards have greater than 30 percent board diversity, compared to the Fortune 500 where that percentage drops to just under 50 percent of companies.

All in all, this year’s census provides powerful metrics on the slow change of diversity in the boardroom, and may help to guide corporations and advocates toward future improvements in women and minority board participation. Read the full report for more information.

McKinsey nails the problem: 88% do not believe their company is improving gender diversity enough

The case for gender diversity is compelling, but McKinsey research—including a new report, Women Matter 2016: Reinventing the workplace to unlock the potential of gender diversity—shows many companies are struggling to ensure women are represented fairly in top management. Progress toward parity remains slow. In Western Europe, only 17 percent of executive-committee members are women, and women comprise just 32 percent of members of corporate boards for companies listed in Western Europe’s major market indexes (exhibit). In the United States, the figures are 17 percent for executive committees and just under 19 percent for boards.

Mentorship Resources

Mentors are great because they love to impart wisdom, usually of their own volition. Most often, mentors share life advice and leadership skills that they've acquired through experience. No matter what problem you're facing, a mentor can be your best resource. Not only can they provide unbiased advice, they can also provide a wealth of emotional support.

Mentors may be an invaluable resource -- but, if you haven't found yours yet, there are some great resources online that can also help: great books to read, the newsletters to subscribe to, the motivational impetus, the calming forces, the must-use websitesservices, or influences.

Happy exploring, and happy sharing.

Women Are Less Likely to Apply for Executive Roles If They’ve Been Rejected Before

Although women make up 40% of the global workforce, they hold only 24% of senior management roles around the world — a figure that has not changed significantly over the past decade. Of chief executive officers of S&P 500 firms, only about 5% are women. Why aren’t more talented women moving up? Researchers have pointed to an array of reasons, from explicit discrimination to promotion processes that quietly favor men, but one of the most perplexing is that women themselves aren’t as likely as men to put themselves forward for leadership roles through promotions, job transfers, and high-profile assignments. Women begin their careers with ambitions that are just as high as their male peers, but before long they scale back their goals and shy away from competing for these jobs. The reason, many assume, is because women are risk averse or lack confidence, or maybe because they have different career preferences than their male colleagues do. But our research suggests women were much less likely to apply for a job if they had been rejected for a similar job in the past. Of course, men were also less likely to apply if they had been rejected, but the effect was much stronger for women — more than 1.5 times as strong.

Read more here. 

Many Companies Are Failing Their Senior-Level Women, Study Finds

Many companies are failing their senior-level women, a new study has concluded.

Researchers at the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), a global management consulting firm, have found that about three-quarters (69%) of companies generate lower levels of employee engagement among senior women than their male counterparts. To obtain those results, BCG analyzed factors that contribute to engagement levels — like appreciation, mentorship, work-life balance, compensation and promotion opportunities, and cooperation with colleagues, among other things — for more than 345,000 female and male employees at 36 private companies across the world.

For the 25 companies that were in the bottom three quartiles of overall engagement scores, women's scores increased by a mere 4% from non-manager levels to senior manager levels, where men's scores increased by a full 12%. For the 11 remaining companies in the top quartiles, women's scores actually increased more than men's, the study found — by 7% and 5%, respectively.

Companies in the top quartiles do not have a gender-engagement gap between senior female managers and their male counterparts, according to the study, mainly because those companies had higher scores in mentorship, appreciation, and cooperation with colleagues — a few of the areas researchers determined are critical to engagement.

Overall, researchers found that the engagement gap occurs as employees become more senior. Even in the bottom three quartiles, both male and female junior employees typically reported similar levels of engagement, as did those at the manager level.

Ensuring engagement for all female employees (but especially those at the senior level) is crucial for companies, the researchers explain in the study, as two major problems can incur without proper levels of engagement: Weaker financial performance, and a less diverse leadership team. The latter, notes the study, can also cause additional financial penalties.

Mentoring Tips

David Cohen, with the help of Jon Bradford and Brad Feld, wrote a Mentor Manifesto to articulate the values and characteristics of mentorship in the Techstars community. There are some great tips:

  • Be socratic.
  • Expect nothing in return (you’ll be delighted with what you do get back).
  • Be authentic / practice what you preach.
  • Be direct. Tell the truth, however hard.
  • Listen too.
  • The best mentor relationships eventually become two-way.
  • Be responsive.
  • Clearly separate opinion from fact.
  • Hold information in confidence.
  • Clearly commit to mentor or do not. Either is fine.
  • Know what you don’t know. Say I don’t know when you don’t know. “I don’t know” is preferable to bravado.
  • Guide, don’t control.
  • Accept and communicate with other mentors that get involved.
  • Be optimistic.
  • Provide specific actionable advice, don’t be vague.
  • Be challenging/robust but never destructive.
  • Have empathy.

MedTech Innovator 2017 Global Competition and Accelerator

Applications for 2017 now open. MedTech Innovator is the medical technology industry’s nonprofit global competition and accelerator for innovative medical device, digital health and diagnostic companies. Our mission is to benefit patients by accelerating the growth of companies whose technologies will transform healthcare. MedTech Innovator is the largest platform of its kind, providing participants with broad exposure to the leading players in the medtech industry.