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Rebalance the Scales: Report Examines Hiring and Promotion of Women in Healthcare

Analysis  |  By Jasmyne Ray  
   May 04, 2022

The report reviews data from the McKinsey's 2021 Women in the Workplace analysis.

A new McKinsey report reveals notable shifts concerning women in the healthcare industry.

According to the report, the representation of women in management levels is now at 53%, eighteen points higher than the average in other sectors. Additionally, women make up two-thirds of entry-level healthcare employees.

Considering the Great Resignation, the rate of women who left healthcare roles in 2021 was lower than previous years, and lower than the rate at which men left healthcare roles across leadership levels. This includes entry level, manager, senior manager, VP, SVP, and C-suite positions.

"While many factors probably contributed to this outcome, our employee sentiment survey indicates two possible reasons," the report stated. "More women than men reported being somewhat or very happy with their companies, and more women than men would recommend their companies as great places to work."

External hires increased representation, particularly in the C-suite, however there is still more to be done. The staffing shortage in the industry was struggling prior to the pandemic and has been further exasperated over the last two years.

"The ongoing stress of the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to undo progress in promotion and attrition rates, potentially setting female representation and advancement in healthcare back by several years," the report stated. "If women leave the workforce, miss out on promotions, or both, that will hinder efforts to reach gender parity in the C-suite."

Data shows that the representation of women in decreases from the entry level (67%) to the C-suite (29%). Promotion rates for women were either on par with or slightly lower than those for men through the senior vice president level, yet decreased when it came to promotions to C-suite roles.

Women of color, who make up almost a fourth of entry-level roles only occupy 5% of C-suite roles. The report called the attrition rates for women of color at the manager (28%), and senior manager or director level (17%) alarming.

"Compared with White women, White men, or men of color, proportionally more women of color reported spending time on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts, but they are the least likely to say that these efforts are well resourced at their companies," the report stated.

The report also noted that respondents claimed that they didn't feel supported in their DEI work. Of those surveyed, 16% said that when they would speak up about bias in the workplace, they'd be retaliated against.

Disproportionately, 51% of women said that they put aside time to learn about the experiences of women of color, including reading, listening to podcasts, or attending events, while only 35% of men surveyed did.

The report recommended actions to take the improvement of retention and promotion of female workers. These actions include:

  • Mitigate attrition by ensuring reasonable workloads, encourage boundaries, and provide greater flexibility at work for women.
  • Use open positions to advance DEI goals through external hiring and equitable promotions as mechanisms for change, as well as implementing bias training
  • Maintain a deliberate focus on opportunities for women of color, including examining the organization's evaluation and promotion processes

"Gender parity and proportionate representation of women of color in healthcare at the top levels remains aspirational," the report said. "Although there are reasons to celebrate, healthcare stakeholders may consider what they can do to rebalance the scales."

“The ongoing stress of the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to undo progress in promotion and attrition rates, potentially setting female representation and advancement in healthcare back by several years, If women leave the workforce, miss out on promotions, or both, that will hinder efforts to reach gender parity in the C-suite.”


KEY TAKEAWAYS

The rate of women who left healthcare roles in 2021 was lower than previous years.

External hiring increased representation in C-suite roles.

While women of color make up almost a fourth of entry level roles, only 5% occupy C-suite roles .


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