Manbassadors: A Man’s Way with a Woman’s Touch – HBA Indiana event recap

The HBA Indiana manbassadors, from right to left: Dr. David Borst, Bryan Mills, Vince Wong, Brian Stemme and Ashish Kalgaonkar. Photo by Kristin Eilenberg.
The manbassadors event was held by HBA Indiana on 13 June, 2017 in Indianapolis at Barnes & Thornburg, LLP with 70 attendees and an unusual panel for the HBA—all men. Manbassador chapters have been started by young men at Ivy League business schools to discuss gender parity issues, and ‘manbassadors’ is a term defined as men who are, “open-minded human citizens of the world, of the male persuasion, who serve as allies to women on issues of gender parity.”
“We wanted to include everyone in the gender parity discussion, which is a key initiative of the HBA this year, and that must include men,” according to HBA Indiana chapter president Erin Albert. “We intentionally put male leaders in healthcare in the Midwest on the panel to have a candid and frank discussion on how to mentor, sponsor and support more women leaders in healthcare and the life sciences.”
The HBA Indiana board of directors worked hard to put this event together, and selected a moderator for the event who had first hand experience with gender parity and women’s mentoring initiatives, Dr. David Borst. A former business school dean, Dr. Borst is also co-author of the new book The S(He) Says Guide to Mentoring about his own experience in mentoring women.

Part of the HBA Indiana board. Clockwise, starting at 12:00, back row: Donetta Gee-Weiler, Shannon Johnson, Heidi Davis, Blythe Logan, Elizabeth Walker and Catherine Cassidy.

In addition to Borst, panelists for the event included Bryan Mills, CEO of Community Health Network, Brian Stemme, project director at Biocrossroads, Vince Wong, vice president of strategy and communications at Roche Diagnostics, and Ashish Kalgaonkar, senior director, global business solutions at Lilly USA.
Panelists discussed what gender parity meant to each of them, with variable answers, and the panel also discussed controversial topics, such as the dynamics between women and men, even in the context of meeting together outside the office. Also included in the evening were statistics by Community Health Network, with a predominance of women in leadership positions within the organization. 

CEO Bryan Mills surrounded by women leaders of Community Health Network (CHN) at the manbassadors event at Barnes & Thornburg. HBA Indiana director at large, volunteerism Donnetta Gee-Weiler encouraged the leaders of CHN to attend the event (pictured next to Mr. Mills, at left).
There were uncomfortable moments during the evening’s conversation due to the sensitivity of the topic; however, there were also many positives highlighted during the event. One initiative mentioned was the Women’s Leadership Initiative at Roche Diagnostics, which as the 2015 HBA ACE award winner. Another was Bryan Mills’ women’s leadership team and high percentages of women working with him.
“We were thrilled to have CEO Bryan Mills serve on the panel, in order to shall of us what good looks like around gender parity,” according to Albert. “Even one of Community Health Network’s employees couldn’t understand why gender parity in healthcare was a huge challenge because the nature of their culture is supportive of women leaders. The only way we are going to speed up the 170 year clock to gender parity is to get comfortable being uncomfortable, be honest, and show examples of what good gender parity looks like in the present.”
Our chapter would like to sincerely thank our host and sponsor for the evening’s event, Barnes and Thornburg, LLP and our chapter sponsor for printing programs, Miles Printing.
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