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Member Perspective: Delphine P. O’Rourke

Posted Friday, October 6th, 2017

Programs & Events, Action Teams, Health Care

Guest Commentator: Delphine P. O’Rourke, Attorney, Hall, Render, Killian, Heath & Lyman, P.C.

How can Greater Philadelphia’s health care industry benefit from gender diversity in leadership?

Every industry benefits from having more women leaders. The smart health care companies have realized that gender diversity is both the right thing and the money thing.

The health care industry, particularly in the area of health care delivery, is in the process of a major transformation to a consumer-driven market with women overwhelming driving behavior and purchasing decisions. Knowing that women are calling the shots and armed with more and more information in making their families’ decisions about care, the health care companies that are purposefully increasing gender diversity are securing their moral and economic edge.

Many health care companies are promoting women leaders because it is the right thing to do and consistent with their moral tradition. At its core, health care is about alleviating the suffering of others. Professionals who devote their lives to caring for the sick at the bedside or to developing a drug which will save children battling cancer are motivated by a desire to heal and to benefit the common good. That health care is a business and that pharma is an even bigger business, doesn’t trump the important work of the health care industry and its long legacy of moral and ethical modeling.

Saving lives comes with great responsibilities. Health care professionals take great pride in being part of a profession with high ethical and moral standards which does the right thing. And it is right to stop discriminating against women.

But for those late adopters for whom doing the right thing isn’t enough, gender diversity is also the money thing. Companies with more women on their boards and in leadership positions perform better financially. The research and data have proliferated over the past three years as Fortune 500 companies and the largest financial institutions look for the value of gender diversity in the numbers. The numbers consistently demonstrate that women in the top ranks are good for business. As the most powerful woman on Wall Street, Sallie Krawcheck, put it “[t]he research overwhelming shows that where women are better represented on corporate boards and in senior management, companies simply perform better.” Studies consistently conclude that companies with more women in leadership positions achieve higher financial performance regardless of the industry.

The benefit of women’s leadership and the competitive advantage of their understanding of the client base is even more acute in the health care industry. The statistics are overwhelming: women make 80% of health care decisions across the country; 90% of married women control their household finances and 85% of mother’s select their children’s doctors. Whether we are providing services and cures to men, women, children or the elderly, the vast majority of those decisions are being made by and paid for by women. Recognizing that women will continue to dominate decision-making in the health care sector, the smart money is on those companies that have more and more women on their teams. It is right and it is money.

Hall, Render, Killian, Heath & Lyman, P.C. is a member of the Chamber’s Health Care Action Team (HCAT), a unique, cross-functional group that leverages the region’s health care assets and is transforming our 11-county community into the global leader in health care innovation.

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