A voice at the table: a roundtable discussion on empowering women in the workplace

March 31, 2021
Josie Rasberry

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To round out Women’s History Month, we wanted to use our 10th episode to host a very special roundtable discussion with a few of the amazing female leaders at Point Health. 

This grew into an inspiring conversation, and one of the best podcast episodes we’ve shared yet. Moving personal stories were shared and everyone walked away feeling more confident in the unique and valuable qualities they bring to the workplace.

Our roundtable host, Josie Rasberry, our Content Marketing Specialist sat down with:

  • Teresa Heinitz, Senior Director Client Services
  • Haden Marrs, Director of Operations
  • Rose Hogan, Director of Engineering
  • Stephanie Orkand, Senior Product Manager
  • Robin Paniccia, Executive Assistant

In the conversation we discuss the need for diversity and equality in the workplace, the importance of having women in leadership, and why women shouldn’t be intimidated or doubtful about their voices or abilities in the roles they hold. 

You can listen to the whole episode here or on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever else you listen to podcasts. If you’re short on time, we’ve included highlights from our conversation below:

Josie: “A recent McKinsey study found that “senior-level women have a vast and meaningful impact on a company’s culture. They are more likely than senior-level men to embrace employee-friendly policies and programs and to champion racial and gender diversity.” Why do you think that is? What unique perspectives and abilities do women bring to the workplace?”

  • Haden: “I think women naturally are a lot more empathetic, and kind of willing to put themselves in another person's shoes and try to understand things from a different perspective. And so I think that definitely has a big part to do with it.”
  • Robin: “Women also bring a lot of good intuition. I think that all the different roles that we play as women in life and in business provide us the opportunity to have a lot of insight and intuition for what people are going through, what people have been through, and that kind of helps us think through different things that perhaps a man just wouldn't see.”
  • Stephanie: “I think for many women, we have experienced moments in our own career where we are acutely aware of being the odd one out. That there aren't a lot of people who may look and talk and act like us, or have common life experiences. And because we're more likely to find ourselves in that position, we may find ourselves better able to embrace and seek out those who have an identity that doesn't match the majority because we know how our experiences have elevated what we can offer an organization. And so we're able to acknowledge that in others.

Josie: “Let's talk about our industry specifically. How are women particularly suited to lead in healthcare?”

  • Teresa: “For women in healthcare...we engage in it more often than men. So we tend to look at it more from a patient's perspective as a result of that. Where they might look at it from a business, we're looking at it from not just a business, but is this the best way to help the member through these processes? It's just a different viewpoint. We're naturally caregivers. We're trying to solve solutions for a multitude of different things and doing it in the limited time that we may have. So not only are you dealing with trying to help somebody through the healthcare system, but you also are trying to make sure it works for them and meets them where they're at.
  • Stephanie: “Something that I learned when I joined the healthcare industry is how complicated healthcare and insurance models can be. And historically those models haven't served women well. Traditionally women have been charged higher premium rates, offered limited coverage options, and research is coming out about a lower quality of care being given to women, particularly in certain scenarios like pain management or ongoing post-surgical recovery. And while laws and policies are changing, the industry mindset has a lot more catching up to do. I feel like women are suited to lead in this industry because we know what needs to change. We know what needs to evolve. And we also know what's at stake if those improvements aren't made.”

Josie: “How can the healthcare industry do a better job of supporting women and ensuring they're encouraged to pursue those leadership opportunities?”

  • Stephanie: “I think diverse representation in the boardroom will really help drive the changes needed by opening up the opportunities to share new ideas. And be open to gathering feedback and exploring it without coming from a defensive position, but rather ‘There's room for improvement here. How can we raise the ceiling? How can we make things better across the board?’ And I think that diverse representation from the boardroom down is definitely one of the big ways we can make that improvement. 
  • Robin: “Yeah, in addition to that, I think it’s important to have women in any situation where decisions are being made. Whether it's in the boardroom or in politics or in legislation, or even just organizationally in departments. Just having women play critical roles that are making important decisions for women's rights and for women's healthcare. I think it's important that women have a voice at the table.”

Josie: “Teresa, I was curious if you've ever experienced any double standards because you're a woman in a leadership role. If so I was wondering if you would share an example and how you handled it.”

  • Teresa: “I feel like they happen in small and big ways. I think the small way I can use as an example is where you're sitting in a conference room and there's all men and you're the only woman in there, and you're all equal, but then somebody needs to take notes. 80% of the time they're going to ask the woman to take the notes. The bigger way is discussions around pay and understanding your worth. I had a conversation with a male counterpart once when we were discussing pay and they wanted to give a male a raise and not a female who had the same job. And the only reason they wanted to give him the raise was that he had to take care of a family. And I was like, ‘Okay we need to talk about that comment. Let's roll this back. If you're looking at them equally, you would have given an equal raise to both. Period.’ But it stills goes back to understanding your worth and being able to have that conversation with the people that you work with. So I don't know if anybody else has experienced that, but that's what I've seen. And just being able to be a voice and speak up for yourself where you need to stick up for yourself and for others in similar situations.”

Josie: “I love that you touched on the pay gap. I believe the stats have updated but the last stat I heard was that for every dollar a man makes a woman makes like 70 something cents and it's for the same job, they have the same qualifications. And then it gets even worse when you look at it with women of color, that disparity gets even larger. And again, it's for the same job, same qualifications. And it just makes no sense. I did want to also open that question up to the rest of y'all. If y'all had any experiences with that about pay gaps or double standards, things like that.”

  • Rose: “I do. Pay gaps not so much because I'm fortunate that I work in tech. But my favorite experience was: we were building out an Austin office. I was the only developer on-site and we were interviewing to get me peers to build up this new location. And so we brought in candidates and because we had offices in Utah and California they were assisting with the interview. So we were having a teleconference, pre-COVID, where they would help make sure it was an impartial interview. We brought a candidate in, and anytime I asked him a question somebody else had to either repeat the question or he would give the response to somebody else. And we had done the proper introductions, so he knew what my role was. At the end of the interview, the Chief Architect said, ‘Now Rose, as the senior, are you going to be able to move forward with this candidate?’ And the look in the candidate’s eye when he realized that because he had brushed me off his chance of getting the job had dropped was one of the best moments I think I can ever remember. I still savor that.
  • Everyone: 👏👏👏

Josie: “Haden question for you, I'm curious about your time as a patient advocate. Did you ever notice that when trying to negotiate down a patient's medical bill, that the person on the other end seemed to be maybe not taking you seriously because you're a woman? Or if it didn't happen to you, did you ever notice with patient advocates that the guys got their stuff taken care of quicker than the women because perhaps there was a bias going on?

  • Haden: “When we were talking with hospitals, a lot of times we start off in the billing office and then we escalate our way up from there. It was typically women in those roles at the billing office, and so that actually worked out more in my favor. But I did notice that when I would escalate cases I was more successful at getting the ear of somebody if it was a woman that was holding that leadership position versus a man. Sometimes I would be talking to hospitals CFOs or a Director of Finance and if it was a woman they were usually a lot more accessible and a lot more willing to listen. Versus some of the hospitals where it was men in those positions, they were so hard to get ahold of. They were not available. They, for the most part, I think would just brush our calls off. When I think about those specific cases, I'd have to be way more persistent and stubborn and try to fight my way through to try and get to that person so they would at least hear me out. 

Josie: “For the last question, I just wanted to ask what encouragement or advice you would give to younger colleagues who are at the beginning of their careers or even advice that you would give to women who are well established in their careers, but are maybe dealing with barriers or self-doubt.”

  • Robin: “We need to be confident in who we are and what skills we bring to the table, but we also should never try to be somebody that we're not. And going back to what we talked about earlier, teach people the way to treat you. Have that expectation for yourself that you are going to rise to the occasion and have those hard conversations. Be comfortable in the uncomfortable conversations and don't be intimidated to stand up for yourself and say, especially when you're taking on a new job, exactly what you need and exactly what you want. At the end of the day, don't be intimidated to stand up for yourself and be a champion for other women. I love all these women on this call and I have deep respect for every single one of them. So be women cheering other women on, be each other's biggest advocate. We should always be striving to be that for other people and other women, particularly. And I think all of us as women, and in leadership, we can make a difference and we are making a difference. You need to be confident in the difference that you're making because it's powerful and it's beautiful.”

Everyone had great advice, stories, and insights to give, so if you want to hear it all make sure to listen to the full podcast here! 

Download The Patient Advocacy 2.0 White Paper

Discover what health plan members had to say about the value of patient advocacy in our survey.

Download The Sedera Case Study

Discover what health plan members had to say about the value of patient advocacy in our survey.

Download The Lowering Organizational Member Cost Guide

Discover what health plan members had to say about the value of patient advocacy in our survey.

Download the Complete Guide to Growing Your Health Plan Membership

Learn the best strategies and tips for growing your members while keeping costs low.

Download the Complete Guide to Retaining Health Plan Members.

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