This blog post appears during the 2019 HLTH Conference, held in Las Vegas, NV. As a venture capital investor, I love Las Vegas. It is the ultimate home of hoping your money makes more money, so it is like my natural habitat.
This is the 2nd year of the HLTH Conference, and already it is has become quite a “must be there” kind of thing. It’s like JP Morgan without the $1200 hotel rooms – instead you lose your $1200/night at the casino. But seriously, it’s a pretty wild array of the who’s who in healthcare set against the wild display that is Las Vegas.
Last year there was some controversy at the conference because there were 428 speakers and only 18 percent of them were female – it caused a definite kerfuffle and people of the female persuasion were justifiably frustrated. However, you have to appreciate it when people make mistakes and then not only learn from them, but double down on correcting them. I have been very impressed with HLTH’s efforts to commit to diversity this year and they have instituted a dedicated track and multiple conference events supporting women in healthcare. They have also improved the female speaker ratio in the main conference to about 38%. That is a marked change in behavior and one to be recognized and lauded.
Because there has been such a signficant change of not just attitude, but action at HLTH, I was delighted when I was approached by HLTH and its related not-for-profit entity, the HLTH Foundation, while I was considering the next steps for CSweetener. For those of you who are not aware, CSweetener was started in 2016 in response to the clear and resounding need expressed by so many women in healthcare to find guidance, mentorship and support from peers. Women came seeking career and leadership advice, support in handling difficult life and work situations, and guidance in how to be their best professional and personal selves. We received nothing but wonderful praise for our efforts to respond to these needs by matching senior women in healthcare with female and male mentors who wanted to give back and help their colleagues continue to rise and succeed.
As CSweetener has grown, it became obvious that the need and demand is even greater than when we started. Thus, it has also become clear that the organization needed more resources and attention and a bigger platform to realize its ultimate potential. As a result, we are excited to announce today that the HLTH Foundation is acquiring CSweetener to shepherd it through its next stage of growth and opportunity. While I will stay involved as an advisor, the HLTH Foundation will be taking over management and direction of the program at the end of November and is planning an update of the program for Q1 2020.
As background, the HLTH Foundation is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that develops, supports and funds initiatives to advance health equity, access, and transformation. Their mission is to foster positive and lasting change for those who are dedicated to improving health, lowering costs and advancing the industry through innovation and collaboration. To date, HLTH Foundation has donated over $300K to advance equity in care delivery and has pledged an additional $100K this year to initiatives focused on achieving parity for women and other underrepresented leaders within health organizations.
If you are a current CSweetener member (either mentor, mentee or speaker bureau member), the program will continue on in its current form until this relaunch. There are more details about this transition over at the CSweetener website and we will be seeking each and every person’s permission to transfer their membership over to the HLTH Foundation. We hope everyone will say yes, as we are excited about what HLTH has in store for the program.
It’s essential for programs like this to exist and here’s why:
The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article called “A Lot of Women Work in Health Care. But Not at the Top. Why Is That?” In the article, this paragraph appears: “the health-care services industry has the highest share of women working in entry-level roles, according to new data from LeanIn.Org and McKinsey& Co. At the lowest rungs of the corporate ladder, women make up 75% of employees in a sample of 22 companies, which includes hospital systems and other direct-care providers. Yet at the highest levels of those companies, the ratios essentially reverse. Women make up only 33% of C-suite leaders, while men, at 25% of entry-level workers in the field, comprise 67% of the industry’s top leaders.”
In other words, it’s actually worse in healthcare than in many other industries because the number of women who COULD rise to management levels are so high. It takes some real effort to hold that many people back. Of course, in the US, gender parity has actually gone backwards over the last three years, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report in 2018. If you really want to feel bad, take a look at this chart:
The title of that chart should be: A female child born today will be eternally pissed off til her death. To put some crap-flavored icing on the cake, the very same Wall Street Journal also published a front-page story this weekend about two Romanian citizens who HACKED THE WHITE HOUSE/SECRET SERVICE VIDEO SECURITY SYSTEM and they ended the story by commenting on the female hacker’s “…tight fitting dress, draping her high heels across a leather sofa, lips pursed.” Guess what? No mention of the clothing of her pale counterpart. (thanks to Andy Coravos for alerting me to this lame-ass excuse for journalism). It would have been nice if they had commented on how pathetic it is that these systems can be hacked. I would have enjoyed reading something more like this if I was interested in a bit of currently fashionable quid pro quo: “The male secret service agents, in exceedingly un-hip gray pants and the requisite ill-fitting white shirt, really could have done a better job even by installing Norton Security.”
Shame on the healthcare industry’s leaders for letting this happen. If it’s going to take 165 years to reach parity in leadership (or anything else), there’s going to be a lot of very pissed off women for decades to come. For this reason, and so many more, the country needs programs that help women rise up, like CSweetener. Please keep an eye out for the re-launch of the platform in Q1 2020. In the meantime, members can continue engaging on the platform and should experience no change unless they elect not to do so.
To our CSweetener community: thank you again for your continued support. Watch this space as we look forward to a bright future. Thanks also to Matchpoint PartnersMatchpoint Partners for their excellent advice as I considered a transaction for CSweetener. And thanks also to the HLTH Foundation for their willingness to go all in to support women in healthcare through CSweetener and other programs.