Jen Brearey is AdvaMed’s chief financial officer and chief operating officer, as well as executive director for the association’s inclusion diversity programs, which includes the industry initiative AdvaMed Advance and AdvaMed’s Women’s Executive Network.
Ahead of our annual Women in Medtech edition of Medical Design & Outsourcing, we asked Brearey to share her expertise on gender diversity to explain why it’s important that medical device companies have more women in their executive ranks and what companies can do to make that happen.
Why does it matter that women are underrepresented as leaders in the industry?
Brearey: “Based on our data, women in MedTech represent 43% of the entry-level workforce but only 27% of the C-Suite leadership. The biggest attrition we see is in ethnically diverse women, which makes up 51% of the entry-level female workforce but only 15% of the female C-Suite. At AdvaMed, we’ve found that looking at gender alone doesn’t help us identify and address the challenges and that we must take a more holistic approach to truly understand the journeys and barriers that are preventing diverse talent from progressing.”
How we can move in the right direction?
Brearey: “In coordination with Deloitte, we engaged 150 member companies in a survey that captured data on nearly 120,000 MedTech employees. Using the findings from the survey, we created an inclusion-and-diversity best practices playbook available to all members. The playbook includes key questions, recommendations and tools that can help companies of any size progress. We are also about to hold our third annual I&D summit devoted to providing leaders in a position to make a difference with the tools and thought leadership to make progress. Ultimately, organizations must make a top-down commitment to meaningful change. They must be willing to invest both time and resources into implementing best practices, particularly those with regards to awareness, recruitment, retention and shared commitment. I’ve already heard great stories from members who’ve started overhauling their recruitment process, some of them with the help of our playbook.”
How will it benefit individual companies?
Brearey: “Member companies succeeding in I&D believe it is the link to their financial success. There is so much data out there to support this, but McKinsey’s Delivering Through Diversity (PDF download) is one of the most respected resources on this topic. Further, the investment community has placed a premium on organizations that have solid I&D programs. Startups in particular find starting early makes them far more attractive to the investment community than peers that have not made I&D a priority.”
And how will gender balance benefit the broader industry and the global population?
Brearey: “The MedTech workforce must mirror the patients we serve if we are going to succeed in delivering innovative technology to populations who need it. As an example, the CDC lists the leading cause of death for women is heart disease yet despite a robust pipeline of female medical students, females only make up 13% of the adult cardiologist population. With our industry developing innovative solutions in this space and directly interfacing with patients and physicians, a representative female sales force and R&D team has the potential to make a meaningful difference in patient outcomes.”