The next in our series of posts sharing key takeaways from panels at the Healthcare & Life Sciences Private Equity and Lending Conference is authored by our colleagues Daniel Goldstein and Melissa Szabad.

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Evolution of Female Leadership in Healthcare Companies

By Daniel Goldstein and Melissa Szabad

Although women are better represented in the healthcare industry at nearly every level compared to the rest of corporate America, women are still underrepresented in healthcare leadership positions. At the Annual Healthcare and Life Sciences Private Equity & Finance Conference in Chicago on February 19, a panel of five current and former female healthcare industry executives shared several key insights regarding female leadership and advancement in the industry.

The panel was comprised of Kathleen Stengel, CEO of NeurAbilities, Donna Rodio, Partner at Ross & Company, Greice Murphy, CEO of Advanced Care Pediatrics, Rose Maljanian, CEO of HealthCAWS, Inc., and Terri Kline, former CEO of Health Alliance Plan of Michigan.

Here are five key insights from the panel discussion:

1. A key barrier for many women is a confidence gap. The panel agreed that women in the healthcare industry often do not know what opportunities are available for advancement, or if they do know, they do not always have the confidence that they could successfully carry out the role. The panel agreed that it is important for women to apply and ask for opportunities, even if they feel like the position is a reach.

2. Being willing to speak to your accomplishments can be key to advancement. Some members of the panel expressed their belief that women frequently prefer to be humble or speak to the success of their team in situations in which they could speak to their own accomplishments. Being willing and able to speak to personal success is necessary to advancing.

3. Focusing on results and performance are essential. According to Rose Maljanian, creating a track record of results will help women win promotions and will also protect women if they fall under attack. It is difficult for decision makers to argue with data-driven results. It is important for women to prioritize their time in a way that ultimately gets results.

4. “You can have it all” is a myth and it is ok to make sacrifices. The panel agreed that in order to be successful, some things in life have to be prioritized over others. Terri Kline advised that women in leadership should not be afraid to hire others to handle certain household responsibilities. Delegating tasks to others can give women time to focus on things that can result in career advancement.

5. You should lean on your strengths. Greice Murphy emphasized the fact that not every executive is good at all things. So, women should focus on spending their time on their strengths and their unique abilities, rather than trying to be good at everything. Other people at the organization can fill in the gaps.