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Women Leaders at Tamaki Health: A New Initiative and Step towards Achieving Equity

It’s well known within Tamaki Health that the majority of our workforce are women. This is reflective of the healthcare industry as a whole, as according to a recent Mckinsey & Company study, 63% of the total healthcare workforce are female.

This overrepresentation is even more evident when looking at the proportion of females compared to male Registered Nurses, as highlighted in the 2020 NZ Nursing Council Cohort Report where a staggering 93% of the NZQN-RN graduate population were female.​​​​​​​

These numbers aren’t all too surprising – historically, we know that women make up the majority of the healthcare workforce, but what’s most interesting is that this representation rapidly declines at a senior leadership level, from 63% to 30%.

Aarti - CFO Tamaki Health

CFO Aarti Narain mentions that this is true for Tamaki Health also.

“Tamaki Health’s workforce is c.70% female, and currently represents over half of our middle management”.

In essence – there’s a bottleneck occurring between middle and upper management in terms of gender equity.

It’s a result of this inequity, that with the support of six other female mentors within the leadership team, Aarti put the wheels in motion to build a grassroots initiative.

The goal? Achieving true diversity and inclusion in senior leadership roles within the organisation through a new programme: Women Leaders at Tamaki Health.

“I am very excited with our launch of the ‘Women Leaders at Tamaki Health’ initiative with our first cohort of mentees. Our aim is to empower and mentor female talent in the organisation; encourage diversity through the ranks; benefit from a network of strong women leaders in the Company and to be a part of an exciting future at Tamaki Health.” – Aarti Narain, CFO Tamaki Health

The inception of the mentorship programme began with the collective of women who are a part of the Tamaki Health Senior Leadership team; Sue Marshall, Helen James, Rachael Scully, Jo Davis, Kathleen Davidson, Denice Bennett and Aarti Narain.

While each mentor currently holds varied and unique roles within the organisation, their goals for the mentorship programme were unified and incredibly genuine, recognising that for many of them, they had a ‘champion’ or ‘mentor’ of sorts that acted as a sounding board and helped to propel them forward in their careers

With that in mind, names were put forward for mentees who had registered interest in joining the pilot programme. These mentees were then paired up with a mentor with whom they’d meet up with on a regular basis to create a two-way learning relationship - a confidential partnership built on understanding and trust.

Mentee, Janisha Sanders, commented that she was impressed with the depth of conversation and how useful having a ‘sounding board’ and another person with a unique perspective to talk to.​​​​​​​

Aarti presenting

“My conversations with Aarti as a part of the Women Leaders Programme have been a valuable opportunity to reflect on the things I’m doing in clinics that I can improve on, and work through any challenges I’m going through. Often, we’ll talk through issues and as Aarti’s approach and the way she works is different to mine, she challenges my ideas and my way of thinking to try another approach, that I wouldn’t have necessarily considered”

Beyond regular meet-ups, the ‘Women Leaders at Tamaki Health’ programme also offers opportunities to attend a mentor coaching workshop, events featuring prolific female guest speakers and networking opportunities – concluding with a formal capstone celebration at the end of the programme.

It’s hoped that throughout the duration of the programme, the internal network of women at Tamaki Health will deepen, leadership pathways and clarity in career direction will form, and a better understanding of the obstacles between middle management and senior leadership will be achieved– and hopefully, with this understanding, some solutions will present to overcome this barrier.

As Janisha mentions, the impact is already being felt in the recruitment space:

“I’ve been doing receptionist interviews over the past few weeks, and this initiative has proven to be something that many women I’ve interviewed are interested in. Inequality for females in leadership positions in the healthcare industry is such a prevalent issue, and when choosing between one employer and another, this initiative shows not only that as an organisation we care, but also that we truly value our team members and the development of people within the organisation.”

We’re incredibly excited to see this initiative unfold, and to witness the growth of both our mentors and mentees as a result and further diversity and inclusion within Tamaki Health.

As Janisha summarised:

“The Women Leaders Programme is designed in a way that everyone can learn off anyone – no matter what background you’re coming from. If you’re someone who is ambitious, wants to take that next step and are motivated to make the most of the opportunity, I’d definitely recommend it.”