In the fall of 2015, Witt/Kieffer released results of our fourth major healthcare leadership diversity survey, in a report titled “Closing the Gap in Healthcare Leadership Diversity.” The survey was sent to thousands of healthcare executives, with 311 leaders ultimately participating. They were asked to answer questions about topics ranging from the perceived equity of leadership in healthcare to the barriers hindering continued improvement in closing the diversity gap.
The survey report largely focuses on respondents’ views of racial/ethnic diversity in healthcare leadership. (A related webinar featuring senior partner Oliver Tomlin and Paul Patton, VP of Administration for Yale-New Haven Hospital, is available through AHA’s Health Forum website. Brief registration is required.) However, the available data tells many additional stories. One is about gender and how women and men in healthcare leadership take differing views of progress toward diversity at the top.
Female executives comprised nearly one-third (31%) of respondents. Both women and men agree that diversity in healthcare leadership has improved since our previous surveys (in 1998, 2006, and 2011); however, there were disparities between the two on a few key points. For example:
- Only 12% of female respondents agreed that the diversity of senior management teams at healthcare organizations reflects patient demographics, compared to 28% of male respondents.
- Female executives surveyed were less likely to agree that women and minority executives are well-represented today in healthcare management. While 22% of male respondents agreed, only 11% of female respondents felt so.
- One of the most challenging barriers to diversity recruitment, retention, and leadership development is a lack of commitment by board members. 60% of female respondents agreed with this statement, while 47% of male respondents agreed.
- The following chart shows differences of “agreement” regarding activities that are considered best practices for promoting leadership diversity in healthcare:
Clearly there are different perceptions of progress and priorities between men and women. We look forward to further examining our latest survey results in the coming months. As the healthcare field continues to undergo monumental change, diversity will remain an essential objective to many organizations. The need for continued commitment to diverse leadership in healthcare is clear, and we are eager to maintain our efforts to support this goal.
By Lauren Corso, Communications Assistant