Breaking Barriers: Healthcare Distributors Celebrate Women's History Month

March 30, 2023

As the healthcare distribution industry continues to focus on the importance of diversity and belonging in the sector, we celebrate Women’s History Month to honor the social, economic, cultural and political contributions of women and girls throughout history.

The increasing number of female healthcare supply chain professionals contributes immense value and expertise to the healthcare system. In the spirit of this month’s national observance, we explore some of the ways HDA and our members are working to recognize the achievements of our female colleagues and foster a culture of gender parity.

Creating an Inclusive Environment

Attracting and retaining women professionals requires creating an environment where everyone belongs, regardless of gender. The efforts of HDA members to cultivate an inclusive environment where female employees feel welcomed and valued has been recognized by organizations that evaluate gender equality for companies worldwide.

During the past year, Cardinal Health has been recognized by the 2023 Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index, Best Companies for Multicultural Women (Seramount) and Top Companies for Executive Women (National Association of Female Executives).

Additionally, McKesson was ranked 24th in the Forbes 2022 list of America’s Best Employers For Women and Henry Schein received a 2022 Women’s Choice Award as one of the Best Companies for Women.

The recognition reflects broader DEI efforts which are being driven in part through Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). As highlighted in a recent blog post honoring Black History Month, these groups help foster an inclusive and engaged workforce, support community responsibility and provide career development opportunities for team members.

Building and Supporting Diverse Teams

In the same vein of creating an inclusive environment, HDA members are intentionally hiring and creating diverse workforce teams to encourage and leverage a variety of perspectives. These different views, skillsets and strengths ladder up to drive rapid innovation industry-wide and ultimately support the improvement of patient health and wellness.

HDA members regularly measure gender equality against external benchmarks to help identify strengths and opportunities to guide talent strategy and attract more diverse new hires. At Cardinal Health, global representation of women at the manager level and above grew to 40.9 percent last year. Further, more than half of their executive leadership team (57 percent) and Board of Directors (54 percent) is female. These efforts to recruit and retain a diverse workforce start with the next generation of leaders: 55 percent of Cardinal Health's most recent intern class were women.

Additionally, women made up 51 percent of AmerisourceBergen’s overall global workface and 36 percent of leadership positions (Vice President and above) in 2022.

Finally, given the historical role of women as primary caregivers, HDA members are also developing and updating comprehensive benefits packages that support team members’ and their families’ well-being, which may include:
  • Coverage of services to support the needs of dependents on the autism spectrum;
  • Support for fertility, adoption and maternity care, including mental health support; and,
  • Assistance for nursing mothers who must travel for business. 

Amplifying Women’s Voices

Throughout the year, and especially during March, HDA distributor-member companies have provided a platform for industry leaders identifying as women to share their perspectives on leadership, work culture and the power of diversity in their own words.

AmerisourceBergen partnered with the United Nations Foundation’s award-winning #EqualEverywhere global campaign for 2023. The company featured their partnership on social media platforms like LinkedIn, where Ann Anaya, AmerisourceBergen Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer, discussed the importance of everyone taking a stand to achieve equity. The company is also highlighting team members from their Women’s Impact Network (WIN) ERG.

Cardinal Health’s leaders have shared their stories through a variety of company channels, including its series celebrating Women’s History Month. Debbie Weitzman, CEO of Cardinal Health’s pharmaceutical segment and a member of HDA’s board of directors, shared her efforts to intentionally build diverse teams and sponsorship of Cardinal Health’s Women’s Impact Network ERG. The article also amplifies the stories of female executives leading the organization’s supply chain. Michelle Greene, Cardinal Health’s Chief Information Officer, authored a piece in the company’s Newsroom sharing her experiences finding a passion for technology and surrounding herself with supportive people. The piece also calls on the industry to help cultivate diverse talent for a more equitable future for all.

Henry Schein, a founding sponsor of Women in DSO®, announced it will present the keynote speaker of the organization’s annual event “Empower and Grow 2023,” as part of their ongoing support for the group. DSO's mission is to “highlight and support contributions of women in Dental Support Organizations.” The company has also featured sentiments from female employees in honor of the national holiday as part of their #IAMTEAMSCHEIN campaign. Henry Schein’s Women’s Leadership Network (WLN) ERG hosted programming that included a discussion with Stanley Bergman, Chairman and CEO of Henry Schein, and Christine King, Executive Chair of Henry Schein One, in recognition of the United Nations campaign, #DigitALL – Advancing Gender Equality in Technology. Further, in a podcast episode on #EmbraceEquity, Henry Schein Board Member Deborah Derby highlighted the importance of inclusion and fostering opportunities to advance.

Among McKesson's Women’s History Month recognition events, the company’s Women Empowered (WE) ERG hosted an internal conversation with Chief Executive Officer Brian Tyler around the importance of allyship in helping develop and advance the female workforce. Additionally, McKesson spotlighted stories from its WE ERG in a recent piece, “Creating a Place Where Women Can Thrive.” Summer Cousins, Pharmaceuticals Category Manager, and Kirsten Swengel, Senior Sales Solutions Manager, shared how the group is helping them build personal and professional competencies, from finding confidence to career growth.

A Medline warehouse manager, Filomena Kropiwiec, shared her perspective on climbing the logistics ladder to the helm of the company’s 1.1 million square-foot warehouse in southern Indiana, and discussed shifting work culture in a recent news article.

Spotlighting Experiences and Perspectives

HDA, as a majority women workplace — 75 percent of the staff identify as female — held a Lunch and Learn event on “Women in the Workplace,” which discussed the unique experiences of HDA’s intergenerational workforce, including early career anecdotes, moments that matter and pathways to success. The event’s moderator, Subrina Ghorashi, HDA’s Associate Director of Education, said about the session, “It was great to have such an engaged and active discussion, with many shared experiences resonating among the group. Healthcare is used by people from all backgrounds — and women often make the healthcare decisions for their families — so it is critical that we continue to strive to be an industry that is diverse, equitable and inclusive, and truly reflects the people we serve.” HDA also continues to amplify the voices of member female employees through the Faces of the Supply Chain initiative.

Our organization and member companies are proud to celebrate the dedication and talent of female healthcare supply chain professionals who continue to break barriers in the industry. Their contributions are vital in ensuring the availability and accessibility of essential healthcare products, especially during challenging times. As we continue to recognize and celebrate the achievements of women in healthcare distribution, HDA and our members also continue to strive to create more opportunities and a more inclusive environment where everyone can thrive and succeed. By doing so, we can enhance the value and resilience of the healthcare supply chain for everyone.

To learn more about HDA’s commitment to DEI, click here.