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When I was fresh out of college, and entered the business world, I was frequently the only woman in the room. And I remember walking by many board rooms only seeing men. Over the years I’ve slowly excavated and erased the unconscious influences those early experiences left. Today, it’s inspiring to be a part of change and be on a leadership team at Surescripts with extraordinary women, many of whom lead from the C-Suite.

And I know that we can continue to do better, for both the sake of women’s health and women’s leadership.

My executive coach, Kate, has been an incredible role model. She taught me a crucial leadership lesson early on: we need a deep well of confidence to lead.

In one of our sessions, she said, “Your certainty of what is possible and your mission must be bigger than everyone. Your certainty must carry you and everyone you lead. The team will drink from your fountain when they have doubts. You must always protect your mental and emotional state.”

I think about this daily.

If you are passionate about championing women—providing equitable healthcare, closing the wage gap, elevating women to the highest levels of leadership, making our organizations more inclusive, and protecting women’s mental and emotional states, do one thing: Believe her.

Believe her when she faces obstacles you have never encountered or don’t understand. Believe her when she knows she is misunderstood, misjudged, or underestimated because of her gender. Believe that she has experienced more paper cuts against her mental and emotional state than she’ll ever bother to share.

Break the bias of not believing her.

We need to believe women when they’re patients in the healthcare system, too. In this article from Northwell Health, four leading specialists weigh in on a “dirty little secret in healthcare,” that women’s concerns are often downplayed because of bias, encouraging women to believe their complaints aren’t real. Gender bias is seen across many specialties, including cardiovascular health, mental health, and pain management. A researcher from MIT and the Whitehead Institute traces the origin of bias back to biomedical research decades and centuries old that “assumed we’re all males” by excluding women from clinical trials.

This kind of bias can lead to fatal results. We can’t accept higher mortality rates for women because we treat them differently.

By making healthcare intelligence simpler to share, and by using data—not assumptions—to inform care decisions, we can help break the bias that prevents equal access to care.

We are made for belonging and community. The pandemic and its effects on our wellbeing have made that clear. When we instill confidence in our young leaders, they believe in themselves. Little by little, those wells of confidence deepen, so that they can carry their teams, withstand naysayers, and forge through obstacles.

You can speed up the process of elevating women. You can impact her, everyone around her, and generations to come with a small, simple commitment.

Break the bias and believe her. Believe in her. Help her believe in her ability to lead.

Talent pipelines in our organizations need to tap into diverse, high-potential women leaders early in their careers instead of letting bias cloud the cultivation process, which leaves us with fewer women at every successive level of leadership.

And there’s no better industry to elevate women than healthcare, a domain where they make 80% of the decisions for their families. At Surescripts, we serve the nation through simpler, trusted health intelligence sharing, in order to increase patient safety, lower costs and improve the quality of care. We have certainty in what’s possible; we stand behind our purpose. And we don’t shortchange it by not tapping into everyone on the team. I’m proud to work here, a place that truly champions women.

I hope you’ll join me in breaking the bias and supporting the women around you, not only on International Women's Day, but every day.

Are you a looking for an organization that promotes and supports the women on its workforce? Connect with us, view our job postings, and consider joining Surescripts, voted one of Modern Healthcare’s Best Places to Work.

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