McKinsey & Company’s latest report focusing on women in healthcare has found that progress has been made in some areas, with women accounting for a greater percentage of the workforce than before. But in leadership positions, representation of women — and, specifically, women of color — continues to disappoint.
“There has been progress and healthcare is leading across all industries,” said McKinsey associate partner Rachel Groh. “That said, we’re at this crucial moment which has the potential to really jeopardize that progress.”
Among the report’s more optimistic findings, the researchers found that healthcare continued to have better female representation as a whole than other industries. Sixty-seven percent of entry-level employees in healthcare are women, compared to 38% in other industries. But gaps higher up the corporate food chain persist.
“Where over two-thirds of entry-level healthcare employees are women, it drops to under a third of women in the C-suite,” Groh said. “That drop-off is even starker for women of color, where 20% of entry-level employees in healthcare are women of color, but only 5% of senior level women are women of color.”
McKinsey also found limited progress (and in some cases, no progress) for men of color, who have remained at 10 to 12% of representation across all levels.
Women in healthcare also disproportionately bear the burden of more responsibilities — and, as a result, are experiencing high levels of burnout.
“There’s a concerning sentiment from women when they answered more qualitative questions on how they were feeling,” Groh reported. “We saw that women are two times more likely than men to cite parenthood and increased home responsibilities as reasons for missing out on chances to be promoted.”
Women were nearly three times more likely to report consistently taking on all or most additional household responsibilities — 50% of women surveyed, versus only 18% of men.
Groh nonetheless believes healthcare organizations and marketers can act to address and close the gender gaps. The first is to manage attrition by monitoring workloads and providing greater flexibility to women workers.
“In healthcare, it really matters,” Groh said. “In healthcare, there’s this purpose-driven work and many women feel pressure to be on 24/7. So having those boundaries can be really important.”
Second, managers should be trained to notice signs of burnout and provide support and resources to women employees. Finally, companies must maintain a deliberate focus on women of color.
“Looking at race and gender and the intersectionality of those dimensions is important,” Groh said. “My advice to marketers would be to understand that this is an unprecedented time of burnout in the field, and there are tactical actions to help mitigate that burnout.”