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Confronting Gender Parity: Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association Indiana

Writer / Janet Striebel
Photography Provided By HBA Indiana


Our culture faces gender parity issues among many sectors, including healthcare leadership. Whether the discrepancy is defined in terms of earned wages or management titles, men and women, globally, are stepping up to collaborate and challenge this ultra-slow-moving progression.

“Women make 80 percent of healthcare decisions in this country, yet most of the leaders in organizations are run by men,” says Erin Albert, President of Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association Indiana.

“I want to see more women at the helms of these organizations,” she adds. If 80 percent of the customers are making these decisions but they aren’t in charge, then there is a serious mismatch.”

By day, Erin works as a health outcomes pharmacist at Myers and Stauffer, PLLC. She spends the rest of her time as a consultant, writer, podcaster, pharmacist, attorney entrepreneur and career coach.

The Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA) is made up of 8,000 members internationally, while the Indiana chapter is comprised of more than 200 members.

Erin also speaks highly about the ‘manbassadors’, or male leaders, who are mentoring and sponsoring women in healthcare, thereby supporting HBA’s mission of gender parity in healthcare and leadership.

First, her appreciation begins with Jack Phillips, CEO of Roche Diagnostics, who graciously introduced Jennifer Cook of Roche, as the Woman of the Year HBA global in 2016 at a local Indy event. 

“Afterwards, we sent Phillips a purple manbassador sash as a thank-you,” Erin says. “He put the sash on. We posted a picture on the internet and it exploded.  There were more than 5,000 views. We are grateful to Jack for supporting the promotion of women at Roche, and with the Women’s Leadership Initiative at Roche.”

Ironically, she says the manbassador concept got started by young men in the Ivy League business schools who wanted to engage men and women in the conversation about gender parity and leadership.

Second, Bryan Mills, President and CEO of Community Health Network (CHN), was among the panel of four male leaders who discussed how to mentor and sponsor women in healthcare at the recent HBA Manbassador event held on June 13 in downtown Indy — along with manbassadors from Lilly, Roche Diagnostics, and BioCrossroads. Erin credits Mills for his phenomenal reputation for promoting a lot of women within CHN.

Interested in becoming a mentor? The mentoring circles (program for HBA Indiana members) consists of two mentors for every four or five mentees within HBA.  V

Visit hbanet.org/hba-indiana-chapter-mentoring-program to register or to learn more.

Finally, Erin recognizes Nick Adkins, of Portland, Oregon, who created a contagious symbol for disruption of healthcare in the form of handing out pink knee socks. She has cleverly transferred this badge of honor craze to the purple socks awards, which will be awarded at the 2017 HBA Indiana annual awards banquet in November. Anyone may nominate a healthcare innovator a tinyurl.com/PurpleSocksHBAIndiana.

The annual HBA Awards Banquet will be held in November. This year, there will be a community-wide initiative to find local innovators in healthcare and/or life sciences to honor. Yes, they will receive purple socks!

“We will have an open-call for everyone to nominate their healthcare or life science rockstar, male or female,” Erin says. 

She also encourages men to carry on the manbassador movement.

“We want men to get involved in various capacities — from joining HBA to mentoring and sponsoring women, either within or outside their organizations, and awarding and promoting women within their organizations,” Erin says. “It’s a whole spectrum of positive behaviors around ultimately creating and achieving gender parity more quickly.”

One HBA member speaks out about her involvement with this dynamic organization.

“I’ve seen many women grow from their involvement in HBA,” says Tiffini Cook, HBA Indiana Immediate Past President and Marketing Manager at Roche Diabetes Care, Inc. “I’ve been able to build upon my current leadership experience, make some great connections personally and professionally and learn new skills along the way.”

HBA Upcoming Events

On July 26, a collaboration of two organizations, HBA and Women & Hi Tech, will join forces at the casual networking event held at The Sky Farm at Eskenazi Health from 6 to 8 p.m. You can mingle with other women beyond healthcare by meeting members of Women & Hi Tech, another local organization which provides educational opportunities and support of women in STEM.

Drinks and appetizers are included in the registration price at HBA Indiana. Members and non-members can register at hbanet.org/chapters/indiana by July 19 for discounted rates.

In September, HBA will host a Healthcare Career Development conference series at Miles Printing/Harding Poorman. The event will feature 18 speakers among six topics within a half-day and was a top request of HBA IN members in 2017.

On October 23, there will be an HB8 small group evening dine-around focusing on Women in Healthcare IT.

About Janet Striebel

Janet C. Striebel is a Fishers resident and freelance writer. She and her husband, Doug, have three children: Ryan, Jessica and Justin. She has been writing for atGeist.com for more than seven years and claims that the best part is meeting all the interesting people in her community.

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