Of the more than 143 million working professionals in the United States, about 47% are women, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (2014). This statistic is expected to rise steadily with time. In healthcare, women have a strong representation:
- More than 76% of hospital employees are women.
- More than 77% of people who work in doctors' offices are women.
- More than 88% of home health workers are women.
Even with the large percentage of women in healthcare roles, gender bias can still be found, particularly in leadership roles. There are also still issues of pay inequality among men and women in the healthcare field. Understanding gender diversity and encouraging equality among men and women can have a very positive impact in many ways for a healthcare facility.
Gender diversity is a very important aspect of creating a successful team in healthcare. Since men and women have different opinions, emotions, insights, and viewpoints, solving complex and even everyday problems in the workplace becomes more effective in facilities that embrace gender diversity. In addition, these facilities may experience higher level performance and more successful goals and outcomes of their healthcare teams. A gender-diverse workforce also allows for different sources of information, an increased recruitment and retention of talented women, and the ability to care for a progressively diverse customer/patient base.
Along with facility-wide policies regarding the promotion of gender diversity, it is important to also examine the diversity of individual groups, let's say, in a hospital setting. The Emergency Room may be gender diverse, but the department of surgery may not be. Gender diversity allows for maximum employee potential when individual departments, not just the facility as a whole, focus on diversifying their employee teams. According to the Gallup Business Journal article "The Business Benefits of Gender Diversity," the following strategies can be used to aid in the creation of a gender-diverse employee team:
- Identify business units that are less gender diverse.
- Develop a hiring strategy that increases gender diversity in these units without reducing or ignoring merit.
- Create an engaged culture that enables men and women to form trusting relationships and motivates them to perform at a high level.
- Set inclusiveness goals and hold managers accountable for diversity.