– Latest Rock Health reports reveal the in-depth survey results of 218 men, women, and non-binary respondents working at healthcare startups and VCs to understand perceive how their organizations are actively advancing gender equity.
– The report reveals we are far from gender parity and the most common initiatives to promote gender equity may not be the most effective approach.
– Conversations with leaders outline five core strategies for building a workplace supportive of gender equity.
Despite significant disparities in healthcare leadership today, industry leaders and employees share a belief that gender parity can be achieved within our lifetime, according to new Rock Health report. The report takes an in-depth look at how individuals working at today’s healthcare startups and venture capital firms (VCs) to understand how they perceive initiatives at their organizations to promote the advancement of women, as well as offer concrete solutions for leaders to actively advance gender equity.
This year, Rock Health conducted a survey in July 2019 of 218 men, women, and non-binary respondents working at healthcare startups and VCs to understand their attitudes toward gender equity including 15 leaders in healthcare including startup CEOs, VC partners, and leaders focused on improving diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within this sector.
3 Emerging Gender Equity Themes
The survey findings reveal three emerging themes on the current state of gender equity in healthcare startups and VCs:
1. We are far from gender parity—but people have high expectations for progress.
Despite significant disparities challenges, industry leaders and employees are optimistic that gender parity can be achieved within our lifetime.
Key findings include:
– Fortune 500 (F500) company boards made the most progress by increasing women representation from 22.6% in 2018 to 26.0% in 2019.
– US hospitals continue to have more women representation than F500 healthcare boards and executive teams do, at 37.1% in 2019. VCs and startups made the least progress—the percentage of women partners at VCs grew by 0.4 points and the percentage of deals closed by women CEOs of digital health startups increased by just 0.6 points.
– Nearly 80% of women respondents believe they will see gender parity in the workplace within 25 years. Men respondents seem to be slightly more optimistic than women: 54% of men respondents believe gender parity will be reached within ten years, compared to 38% of women respondents.
– survey respondents indicate women may have different career expectations than men do. women report a larger gap between their career ambitions and the self-perceived likelihood of reaching those ambitions.
– Seventy-one percent of women respondents who work at a healthcare startup report having a career goal of reaching the C-suite or becoming a board member. However, of the 36% of women desiring to reach the C-suite, only 59% expect they will achieve this, compared to 86% of men with the same goal.
2. The most common initiatives to promote gender equity may not be the most effective.
The report finds most companies have some initiatives in place; however, gaps exist. Respondents state that the commonly implemented gender equity initiatives (e.g., flexible work arrangements, women’s communities and employee resource groups (ERGs), and unconscious bias training) are not aligned with what are the most effective. This signals an opportunity for organizations to reassess and align their culture and diversity initiatives with what employees find most impactful.
Key findings include:
– Respondents reveal startups and VCs are unlikely to have initiatives in place to support gender equity. The exception is flexible work arrangements (e.g., the opportunity to work remotely, and during off-hours)—employees report that the majority of startups and VC firms offer this flexibility.
– At startups, informal mentorship and women’s communities were the next most common initiatives, but still only 29% of startup employees report these opportunities are available at their workplace.
– 23% of startup employees and 17% of VC employees report that none of the initiatives we asked about are offered at their workplace.
– Survey respondents highly value certain initiatives—for instance, on a scale of 1-7, VC respondents rated the effectiveness of “measures to address pay inequity” as 6.2.
– The survey finds inconsistencies between the initiatives most likely to be in place versus those deemed to be the most effective. For instance, some of the most common initiatives implemented in the workplace— informal mentorship and women’s communities—did not rank consistently as the highest impact initiatives.
– Two of the highest impact initiatives—addressing pay inequity and sponsorship—were rarely implemented among startups and VC firms.
– There is a huge gap between leaders and employees when it comes to rating the impact of informal mentorship—leaders may assume more junior employees are benefitting from these relationships more than they actually are.
– Both employees and leaders ranked sponsorship as more effective than informal mentorship, despite informal mentorship being one of the most commonly implemented initiatives.
3. There’s a (perceived) commitment gap between individuals and organizations.
Key findings include:
Respondents self-report higher levels of commitment to gender equity than the leadership commitment they perceive at their own organizations.
Respondents report not seeing the same level of commitment at an organizational level. Among employee respondents, nearly 40% feel their senior leaders are not particularly committed to improving gender diversity in leadership roles.
Employees at firms with 50% or more women in leadership roles report greater confidence in their company’s commitment to gender equity than leadership teams comprised mostly of men.
5 Strategies to Building A Workplace Supportive of Gender Equity
Rock Health also conducted conversations with founders, investors, and DEI advocates to outline five core strategies for building a workplace supportive of gender equity.
1. Start Early
2. Recognize that without committing—through initiatives, explicit diversity goals, or other accountability measures—companies are likely to perpetuate the status quo.
3. Take the pulse of the organization to find opportunities
4. Transparent expectations and salary ranges can help weed out bias.
5. At venture funds, bringing transparency to the deal flow pipeline can unearth unconscious bias.
For more information, view the full report here: https://rockhealth.com/reports/the-state-of-gender-equity-at-healthcare-startups-and-vcs-in-2019