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Gender Changes in the Workforce

October 18, 2009
by Tim Tolan
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Many predicted this would happen as a result of the economy and the large number of men impacted by the job losses across the United States. It finally happened. There are more women in the workforce actively employed today than men. It’s not really a celebration for anyone. It’s just what happened.

I certainly understand many of the reasons the employment pendulum has swung the other way. I also know that many employees in a variety of industries were impacted over the last 18-24 months and that is an absolute shame. It’s not their fault. I hear from unemployed workers every single day and wish I could single-handedly offer meaningful advice that could make an immediate difference. The challenge is the number of people affected is overwhelming. It will get better for those affected and hopefully many can re-tool and transition their skills into other industries. All this requires a sound strategy, a plan and action.

While the reasons for the swing in the employment ranks may be bitter-sweet, women should still applaud the great strides and achievements made in the work force – including their presence in the executive rank and file. Well... maybe not. A quick review of the executive profiles listed by many major corporations and large privately held companies’ on their web-site and one might surmise that we still have a long way to go. I don't get it! Most marketing and consumer products are still targeted at the male only consumers even though women control a huge percentage of the disposable income in this country. Worldwide women drive a staggering $20 trillion in annual consumer spending. That’s HUGE!

In the healthcare space we need to gear up for a surge in the demand for talent. With unemployment rates hovering at nearly 10% – year to date, the healthcare industry continues to add jobs. We must read the tea leaves and develop more educational offerings to encourage and draw more qualified candidates to healthcare to offset the supply and demand for talent. This includes executive leadership development programs for men and women! One organization that deserves huge credit is CHIME for creating a female only CIO boot camp a couple of years ago. I think it’s awesome! The predictions of a major shortage of healthcare executives across the U.S. are very real. I look forward with much anticipation as we all try to solve the human capital challenges that lie ahead in our marketplace. We need a call to action and we need it now!

In the meantime (male or female) do everything you can do on a daily basis to move the needle in your career and for your organization. A friend of mine told me years ago that if you work hard - and deliver on your commitments - your contributions will either be recognized internally or externally. She was right.

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Comments

Very interesting stuff, Tim. It really is amazing that the healthcare industry is adding jobs at a time when so many other industries are reeling. I agree that everyone in this field should be doing whatever they can to leverage their careers and take advantage of the fact that healthcare is growing, and opportunities are everywhere.

And I for one really hope that marketing companies wake up soon and realize that women (or anyone outside of the male 18-49 demographic) are spending money too!

It is amazing - no doubt Kate. The overall market will improve while healthcare will surge and be challenged by the lack of human capital. If someone figures out how to effectively train non- healthcare talent to understand our market - they will hit the jackpot!

Tim Tolan

Senior Partner, Sanford Rose Associates Healthcare IT Practice

@@TimTolan

http://sanfordrose.net/thetolangroup/

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