Written by Shannon Adkins, CEO, Future State, Inc.
The session began with our host, Lindsey Piziali, assurance partner at PwC, providing daunting statistics that still demonstrate a lack of gender parity in executive roles. Despite the important role that women play in healthcare decisions, they represent only 10 percent of life sciences boards of directors, and only 13 percent of the C-suite. Yet evidence now demonstrates that teams with more diversity do better across all core measures of business success.
So the question becomes, how do we bridge this gap? We heard first from Lisa Suennen of GE Ventures, about her newest venture, the 501(c)3 C-Sweetener. This platform provides a matching and mentoring program to connect executive women in healthcare to the mentors that they need to truly advance and achieve gender parity in the boardroom and in the C-suite. Stay tuned to learn more about how the HBA and C-Sweetener will be partnering in the future.
Following this introduction, Lisa Suennen was joined by her C-Sweetener co-founder, Lisa Serwin, as well as three additional panelists, Abby Adlerman, CEO of Boardspan, Darryll Robinson, EVP, CHRO of Dignity Health, and Nairi Hourdajian, VP of marketing and communications at Canaan Partners.
Lisa Suennen spoke about the importance of learning by observing and then doing, as she related the story of her challenging first appointment to the board of one of her portfolio companies. In the end, her core lesson is to ‘speak your truth’, and to build, and refine your ability to build, confidence and credibility by doing just that.
Finally, we talked about how women can support other women on this journey – we returned to the theme of pattern matching, building one another up to interrupt the status quo and inherent bias that may be present in meetings and boardrooms. For example, amplify the points being made (and possibly spoken over) by female leaders in meetings, and build on opportunities to shine a light on other women through mentorship, giving back, and creating opportunities.
Our time together was both informative and inspirational, and we took away nuggets of knowledge to support us on our leadership journeys.