About Author: Dr Dharminder Nagar is the Managing Director of Paras Healthcare. He has the unique advantage of being a doctor, hospital administrator and entrepreneur all in one. Dr Nagar was awarded the Entrepreneur of the Year (2015) Award at the India Health & Wellness Summit 2015 and Dynamic Healthcare Entrepreneur of the Year 2015 by Six Sigma Healthcare Awards at the World Entrepreneur Summit.
Women participation in the global workforce, workplace equality, safety and growth opportunity in careers are just a few of them. As they break ceiling after ceiling, women today are emerging as major players in the global economy. Two of Europe’s most powerful economies – Germany and UK – are being led by women today.
However, women’s participation in the global labor force remains much less than men’s. Back home in India, while women have closed in on the higher education gap (with 45.9% of all enrolled undergraduate students being women), the gap in labor force participation remains yawning. In 2009-10, women comprised only 29% of the total workforce in India.
Here, there is at least one industry that is making a difference. Healthcare industry in general and hospitals in particular are today emerging as the best and most equitable workplaces for women. Globally, women comprise more than 76% of hospital employees and over 77% of people working in doctors’ clinics. Even better, more than 88% of home health workers are women. While we do not have segregated figures for India, practical evidence suggests that women are emerging as the drivers of the hospital business here as well.
The pharmaceutical and healthcare sector has seen enterprising women leaders. The first woman to have been at the helm of a pharmaceutical empire, Swati Piramal, is regarded as a pioneer who campaigned for new drug research in India and highlighted the importance of scientific innovation.
The healthcare industry as an employer
The healthcare industry is booming at a tremendous pace because of rising disposable incomes, increasing demand for private healthcare, improved access to high-quality healthcare facilities and greater awareness of personal health and hygiene. The industry size is expected to touch US$ 160 billion by 2017 and US$ 280 billion by 2020. We expect to register a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.9% during 2015-20 to US$ 280 billion. With almost 74% of the country’s total healthcare expenditure, the private sector today is leading the growth spurt.
According to a 2010 report by National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO), India had a total female workforce of 112 million, out of which approximately 1.25 million or about 1.1% were employed by the healthcare sector. This makes healthcare one of the largest organized sectors employing women in India. This is bound to grow further as private sector penetrates its presence beyond top metropolitan cities. With rising demand for quality healthcare, more and more hospitals today are turning attention to unexplored tier II markets, and this is where the next spurt of employment growth will come up in the health sector. For women, this presents an enormous opportunity.
At Paras Healthcare, we employ women in every dimension of healthcare delivery, from management to medicine to pathology. Women form a key section of our workforce even in smaller centers like Patna and Panchkula. In fact, on numerous occasions we prefer women in management, administrative and front office roles.
More women make for safer workplaces
It is an often-reported fact that women feel safer in work environments where they are surrounded by more women. The chances of being bullied or harassed are minimized when there is gender parity in the workplace both in terms of number of women employees plus in terms of more women working in senior management positions. Having women managers who are part of the daily decision making automatically lends a more gender sensitive touch to the functioning of an organization. Workplaces that have more women in high potential and critical decision making care areas are invariably more gender sensitive (and safer). This makes hospitals an exceptionally safe place for women to work, particularly when safety of women is a major issue bedeviling our society.
Equitable work environment
Given the fact that most corporate entities who have charted healthcare wings are young organizations, corporate hospitals in India are emerging as organizations with greater gender parity as compared to many other industries. For women, it is not just easier to get employment in healthcare sector, but moving up the rank is also a smoother process. Women leaders have been found to embody qualities of motivating others, fostering relationships, taking a demographic approach, and participating closely within the organization which are crucial in this industry. More women in hospital services helps healthcare better represent the diversity of its patient population. Given the high representation of women in the healthcare workforce, hospitals today are one of the most gender equitable workplaces.
Better chances at growth
Discrimination against women at workplaces including issues such as unequal remuneration for equal work and bias during promotions are vital issues today. However, hospitals are one such area that provide a highly fair work environment to women where they are provided ample opportunities to grow. In fact, hospitals often prefer women in management positions in nursing, housekeeping and human resource departments. Medicine is also a profession where there is no scope of gender discrimination. In fact, studies have also suggested that men and women practice medicine differently. Women are more likely to adhere to clinical guidelines and counsel patients on preventive care. They are more communicative than men. All these factors make women employees, from doctors to nurses to managerial staff highly critical to healthcare delivery.