Women leaders transforming the future

In 2016, the HBA is putting a stake in the ground around the important issue of gender parity.

The HBA is embarking on a bold approach to transform the future of the healthcare industry: achieve gender parity.

This pivot in direction was undertaken in 2015 as the HBA’s board of directions reevaluated the organization’s strategic plan based on feedback from key members of its advisory board and asked several crucial questions, including to what end is the association achieving its mission?

HBA CEO Laurie Cooke notes that while the organization has been doing great work for the past 40-plus years, including important programming, providing mentoring and building a trusted network in which members can freely engage with one another on all levels, to achieve the HBA’s long-standing mission to further the advancement and impact of women in the business of healthcare, a new lens needed to be applied to measure success.

“We challenged ourselves that we needed more metrics and measures of the important work that we’re doing to support women leaders,” Cooke says. “One of the metrics we identified is to measure the representation of women in leadership positions in the C-suite and one level below. We believe if we can harness the power of connecting what we are doing as an association and what companies are doing to advance women, we can achieve greater and quicker results in moving the gender parity needle.”

In 2015, to achieve this complex and aspirational goal, the HBA’s mission statement was significantly refreshed by the HBA board, senior staff and the 2015 chapter presidents and presidents-elect.

“Our mission has evolved to a bolder statement that truly captures the core elements that you’d want to have in your arsenal as you talk with others about the HBA,” Cooke continues. “What you should see shining through is our strong focus on achieving gender parity at all levels of leadership. We also clarified that we’re facilitating the growth of high-value, industry connections—more so than just ‘networking,’ which can have more social connotations. And we’re serving as a key resource to enable organizations to realize the full potential of their female talent.”

While undertaking the exciting challenge of envisioning what might be possible by reprioritizing the associations’ current and pipeline initiatives, a robust group took time during the strategic planning session to reflect on and refresh the HBA’s core values— relevance, integrity, community and engagement—as well as set strategic goals for 2016.

Strategic goals for 2016

A 2010 McKinsey study reported that companies with the highest share of women on their boards saw a 41% higher return on equity compared with companies with no women on their boards. Credit Suisse in 2014 reported that companies with more than one woman on the board have returned a compound 2% to 4% a year premium on return on equity over those that have none. 

Many of us are familiar with this as well as numerous other underwhelming statistics about how many executive positions are held by women. The HBA is now laser-focused on changing these statistics and is central to one of the association’s two strategic goals for 2016 and its five-year plan.

In 2016, the goal is to establish the HBA brand as a leader that advances gender parity by:

• Creating HBA’s business case for change (to advance gender parity)
• Developing a gender parity maturity model
• Strengthening strong brand, communication and PR plans

“Intuitively, we know from individual success stories, that we are accomplishing our mission, by putting a measurement to these narratives we can also prove we are making a difference,” Cooke explains. “This is a tangible way of putting a stake in the ground around the important issue of gender parity. Several studies estimate that it could take anywhere from 80 to 100 years before there is true gender parity in the workforce. At the HBA, we believe we can’t wait that long.  We’ve got the numbers, we’ve got the longevity and we’ve got the reputation of being able to make a difference.”

Nancy Santilli, global managing director, Global Human Care Systems Inc, and 2016 chair of the HBA says moving the needle requires more than facts and data, it requires personal commitment and dedication.

“Alone we whisper, together we roar,” Santilli continues. “Change can and will be uncomfortable but discomfort signals progress. The time is right for gender parity.”

The second strategic 2016 goal is to ignite geographic expansion and improve volunteer satisfaction in both the US and Europe, leveraging technology for both internal and external value.

Under the broad umbrella of “women leaders transforming the future” the HBA will continue to execute its annual plan of work, such as the Woman of the Year (WOTY) program, Annual Conference, the ACE award, 3BC (Building Better Business Connections)Career Conversations webinar series, and a number of additional virtual offerings,  with continued support to the many amazing chapter programs.

This year’s WOTY program, May 12, 2016, in New York City, will celebrate the achievements of remarkable leaders in healthcare from across the industry, including nearly 100 Rising Stars and Luminaries; the 2016 STAR, Deborah Coogan Seltzer, director, enhanced search, North America, Spencer Stuart; the 2016 Honorable Mentor Jacopo Leonardi, executive vice president, president of immunology division, Baxalta; and the 2016 WOTY Jennifer Cook, head of pharma, region Europe, Roche. 

The HBA looks forward to a transformative future, one in which its leaders are helping to shape each and every day.