Kicking off a new, ongoing feature, we’re aiming to spotlight the insights of healthcare leaders. In this installment, Katie Galbraith discusses the need to get more women in leadership roles.
In this new series, we’re going to spotlight advice and thoughts on leadership from key figures in the world of healthcare. Since this feature debuts on International Women’s Day, we’ll focus on the need to promote more women into leadership roles.
With the observation of International Women’s Day, it’s worth pointing out that a relatively small number of women are leading healthcare organizations.
Only 15% of health systems are led by women, according to an analysis published in Jama Network Open.
Katie Galbraith, the president of Lankenau Medical Center, is a longtime leader in the industry. Galbraith took over as president of Lankenau, part of Main Line Health in the Philadelphia area, in September. She previously served as president of Duke Regional Hospital in Durham, N.C. for nearly nine years.
In an interview with Chief Healthcare Executive® just before she began her new role at Lankenau, she discussed the importance of helping women rise into leadership positions in healthcare.
“Our healthcare workforce, talent force, if you will, is overwhelmingly female and yet at the top, it is not,” she said.
Health systems need to reflect their communities, she says, adding, “that goes for women in leadership, that goes for all aspects of diversity in leadership.”
When asked for her advice for helping more women achieve leadership positions, she said, healthcare organizations need to make sure recruiting processes “have diverse pools of candidates, for all positions but particularly those leadership positions,” Galbraith says.
Here’s the transcript of our discussion with Katie Galbraith on helping more women rise into leadership roles in healthcare.
Question: What needs to be done to get more women those opportunities and those chances to lead?
“It’s interesting. I never thought that much about it until I was in this role. I had so many women, especially when I was first appointed to this role … I was in the interim role for about 9 months and then went through a national search and was appointed about 8 years ago. (Note: This interview took place as Galbraith was concluding her role as president of Duke Regional Hospital and before taking over at Lankenau Medical Center.)
“The number of young women leaders in this organization who reached out to me and just wanted to talk, and wanted advice and guidance, and I have loved providing that over the years, and I always learn far more from them than I can ever impart on them. But I do think women leaders need sponsors in the organization, need mentors in the organization.
“Our healthcare workforce, talent force, if you will, is overwhelmingly female and yet at the top, it is not.”
“Talk about how we want to reflect our communities, reflect the team we care for, leadership should reflect that as well, and that goes for women in leadership, that goes for all aspects of diversity in leadership. And I think that’s really important.’”
“It’s how do we support women? How do we support people of color in their careers? How do we make sure that we’re intentional in terms of our recruitment processes and making sure we have diverse pools of candidates, for all positions but particularly those leadership positions. Making sure that we’re really intentional in terms of diversity, and intentional in terms of really making sure that people feel liked they can be their whole selves and have a seat at the table.”
“I’ll be honest, there have been times where that’s been a little bit…. I’m fortunate to work at an organization and have worked for an organization for the last 26 years that has been very focused on this and I think has been very encouraging of me as a female leader. And even with that, there have been times when I’ve been, especially early on, less so now, was the only female leader in the room. That is not the case now. We’re building, but we just have to do more.”
(If you’d like to submit your idea of lessons in leadership in healthcare, great advice you’ve received, or insights you wish you had earlier, submit an idea for our “Lessons for Leaders” series. Email Ron Southwick, senior editor of Chief Healthcare Executive: [email protected])