Time to support, not harass women

With the latest sexual harassment and abuse stories in the news, I am reminded once again how important it is for women to speak up. We need to encourage women and girls to pursue their dreams, canstockphoto13989561and support them when they face obstacles.

Like other women leaders, I try to be a role model for young women in all that I say and do. I try to speak up and take on the tough issues that women face in the work world. I encourage young women to figure out who is on their “team you”. And most importantly, I tell them not to put up with crap, from anyone.

I have written many posts over the past few years on women and work and done several talks focused on encouraging and developing women.

Here are some of those posts that you might find useful and maybe even inspiring these days:

Yes we can: women in health IT

Powerful women and their path to success

Investing in the success of others

Equal pay, who can argue?

#ILookLikeAnEngineer

Balancing career and family

I challenge you to look at your own practices and ensure you are doing all you can to support women in your organization so they are comfortable speaking up, able to overcome obstacles they face, and can actually thrive and advance.

When can we talk about it?

Like you, I woke up Monday morning to the horrific news that at least 50 people were dead and over 400 people injured at the kind of venue we have been to before: an open-air music event with thousands of people.

But this was not a terrorist attack in some foreign country. This was our country. The United States of America. The land of the free. But sadly, it is also the land of guns. Americans own an estimated 265 million guns, more than one gun for every adult.

This time it was a 64-year-old white man who had amassed over 40 weapons and had carried over 20 of them into his hotel suite a few days earlier. These were semi-automatic weapons modified to shoot rounds so fast that in just 10 minutes he ended or injured over 500 lives. Not to mention the psychological damage for the thousands who escaped, survived, tended to others on the scene, transported them to hospitals or cared for them at the hospital. 

I was in Chicago attending a healthcare forum on Monday. But no one was talking about what had happened. Are we so numb to gun violence in this country that we watch that initial news story in horror but then move on? Were the few hundred people in that meeting room with me distracted during the day and wanting to know more about what had happened? Were they quietly looking for answers? Instead of just looking at email on their phones were they looking for news updates and trying to comprehend this awfulness yet again? 

I saw an alarming image and statistic today. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1.5 million Americans have been killed in the U.S. in gun related incidents since 1968. That is more than the 1.2 million service members killed in all the U.S. wars combined. The caption said, “We are at war with ourselves”.   Continue reading

Living your values

This is not about who you voted for in 2016.

This is not about whether you neatly compartmentalize your political persuasions and don’t talk politics at work.

This is about standing up for what you believe and living your values.canstockphoto9176405

The six CEOs who left the president’s manufacturing council after Charlottesville may have done it to protect their businesses and profits. But I will give them the benefit of the doubt; they were unwilling to work with a president who cannot call white supremacists and neo-Nazis what they are.

The last to leave before the remaining members agreed to disband was AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. He made the strongest and clearest statement of all. He announced he was leaving the council late Tuesday after President Trump defended his original statement on Charlottesville, blaming both sides. “We cannot sit on a council for a President who tolerates bigotry and domestic terrorism,” the organization said in a statement. “President Trump’s remarks today repudiate his forced remarks yesterday about the KKK and neo-Nazis. We must resign on behalf of America’s working people, who reject all notions of legitimacy of these bigoted groups.”

Ken Frazier was the first CEO to step down after Charlottesville. “As CEO of Merck, and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism,” he said in a statement. He was the only African American CEO on the council and is the only one singled out publicly and criticized by the President.

We live and work and play and study in a global society with great diversity. I embrace that diversity.

When I am coaching leaders I challenge them to share their values with the people they lead. I challenge them to envision the leader they want to be and to take concrete steps to become that leader. And I always encourage them to put aside personal agendas and do what is right for their organization. Continue reading

Ethics 101, what’s so hard to understand?

As we all watch events in Washington unfold, each of us knows that the organizations we work for expect us to behave ethically in all that we do. We sign confidentiality agreements; we complete conflict of canstockphoto13989561interest disclosures and we receive ethics training.

Whether you consider yourself a “rules follower” or one who likes to “ask for forgiveness, not permission”,  you know that you must act ethically and lawfully.

I appreciate the advice I received from a boss early in my career – always do what’s right for the organization. If there is any doubt when I fill out my conflict of interest form, I error on the side of disclosing more rather than withholding information.

And then there’s nepotism – something both small and large organizations need to manage. They figure it out. Unless you are a family owned business, you should not be hiring or managing family members.

I worked at an organization that was named by the Ethisphere Institute as a “World’s Most Ethical Company” five times since 2012 – University Hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio. Their Chief Compliance Officer, Kim Bixenstine, and the entire executive team took great pride in this honor. And they should. University Hospitals is one of only seven healthcare providers named to the list in 2017.

Ethics starts at the top. Continue reading

A tale of patient advocacy

We have two little dogs. Pepe is a 10 year old Shih Tzu/poodle and Coco is an 8 year old Shih Tzu /Bichon.  Pepe had been getting frailer and weaker throughout the Fall months. IMG_2946 (002) waiting at the bus stop

We thought this might be her last year with us. But her blood work in November showed that she has a thyroid problem.  She now gets a daily medication and has more energy and no longer sleeps most of the day. The name Pepe (as in peppy) is fitting her again.

She had also been losing weight and getting very thin. So, we started her on canned food. Maybe she had  a problem with the dry food she has always eaten. Or maybe Coco, who is dominant, wasn’t letting her get to the food dish. What dog or cat doesn’t love canned food??? Pepe loves it and has been gaining weight. While my husband and I are still getting used to that nasty moment when you first open the can of wet food, we do it because we love her and want her to gain weight and get strong. It’s working.

When we recently took Pepe to the vet to deal with a digestive problem, the vet found she had a broken tooth and the area around it was inflamed. She would need surgery to have it pulled. That happened this week and all is well. She is even back to eating treats that take some chewing. In hindsight, the broken tooth could have been the reason she stopped eating the dry food.

Animals can’t talk or “use their words” as we tell small children, so it’s hard to know when something is wrong. And it’s hard to know the interconnections between all these issues. Continue reading

Forward together

Like many, I am surprised and disappointed at the outcome of the presidential election. From some of my previous posts the past few years, there’s probably no question about my political leanings. canstockphoto10854745

A new message of “forward together” is needed now more than ever. Only half of all eligible voters voted on Tuesday. Half of them voted for Donald Trump and half for Hillary Clinton. She got more popular votes. But that means only one fourth of the country elected our next president. He will need to be a president for all of us.

A dark cloud has hung over us during an incredibly divisive and bitter campaign with often hateful language and bullying behaviors. We may have been afraid to talk to co-workers or neighbors or family members in fear they may support the other candidate and we did not want to have to debate with them. People on both sides felt this way.

Hillary Clinton’s speech to her staff on Wednesday had many important and inspiring messages as we move forward as a country. I encourage you to find the speech online to gain some perspective and to renew your hope for the future.

I watched her speech with my husband and the general contractor on our outside house project. He and his crew have been working here for several weeks on a major redo project – new patio, landscape and fence. They are a nice group of guys and we chat each day. But we consciously never brought up the election.

The general contractor needed to talk to us about a change order so came into the house Wednesday morning. He saw we were not in a good mood and asked who we had supported. He told us he voted for Trump. Bottom line, he thought a change was needed but admitted that he couldn’t defend a lot of what Trump said on the campaign trail. We debated a bit but it was civil.

He said he wanted to see Hillary’s speech when it came on. I went outside and got him when it was time. He sat in our living room with one of our dogs on his lap and watched. I sat behind him in the kitchen with tears. He thanked us for letting him come in and watch and said she made some great points. I told him that I did it with a big heart. Continue reading

Powerful women and their path to success

My first professional event since moving back to New England is the evening of Monday, November 7th. Boston Health 2.0 is a chapter of the national Health 2.0 organization. They hold monthly meetings to canstockphoto993163promote, showcase and catalyze new technologies in healthcare. The November event is a panel titled “The Power Women of Health IT: Path to Success”.

All powerful women have advice to give others and stories about obstacles they’ve overcome. This group of women panelists is no different and I’m excited to be part of it. Helen Figge, Senior Vice President, Global Strategies and Development, LumiraDx, USA, Inc., Cara Babachicos, Corporate Director/CIO, Community Hospitals, Partners Healthcare, and I were all honored to be named earlier this year to the “Most Powerful Women in Healthcare IT” by Health Data Management. We look forward to sharing our perspectives and stories.

The panel will cover advice on entrepreneurship for women, how women can influence the health IT industry, differing perceptions of competency in men and women, importance of mentorship, how men can be more supportive of professional women, and obstacles we’ve overcome in our own paths to success.

This should be a great discussion with a lot of insight and advice. But which obstacle should I comment on? Looking back to my early days in management, unfortunately there are many stories to share.

There was the male colleague who had it out for me during a five-year period when I was the only woman on the IT leadership team (it was the 80’s). One of the things he did early on was to spread a rumor that I was only in management because I was related to a board member with the same last name. It was so not true; I didn’t even know the board member. Continue reading

Lift up women and you lift up everyone

History was made this week. For the first time, a woman was nominated by a major party for President of the United States. Nearly 100 years after women won the right to vote and 240 years after the founding ofcanstockphoto4392904 our country, Hillary Clinton has broken this barrier. Did you hear the glass breaking? I did and it was music to my ears.

Across this country, women have proven they can do anything a man can do in any field. Yet women lag behind in pay, in executive roles and are poorly represented in fields like technology. In a longitudinal salary assessment, HIMSS found that women’s share of health IT salaries for comparable jobs is smaller than it was ten years ago. That means we are losing ground!

I’ve written and spoken about this and will continue to do so. As I was quoted in a recent article, Removing the Glass Ceiling in Health IT, we need to be open about this problem. Naming a problem is the beginning of addressing it. I could sit back quietly but I won’t. I owe it to the next generation of women, my daughters and my granddaughters to speak up. I was influenced by the women’s movement of the 1970’s, so I know that if we don’t speak up, we will never make the changes we need.

At last year’s Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day, I was greeted by a 10-year-old boy with, “I thought only men were managers”. Continue reading

Who do we want to be?

While I try to stick to the topics you would expect in a professional blog, there are times when I can’t ignore the events we all witness. Whether they are joyous or tragic, they all leave a mark on us. Last July Icanstockphoto6283939 wrote about marriage equality sharing the story of my Aunt Dorothy.

During the fall as a US presidential candidate repeatedly talked about building a wall along the Mexican border, my post “Build bridges, not walls” was a message about the importance of embracing diversity. In that post, I quoted a church hymn that really struck home for me. “Our World is One World” by Cecily Taylor included this verse:

Our world is one world, the thoughts we think affect us all. The way we build our attitudes, with love or hate, we make a bridge or wall.

I closed that post with this statement: “Let’s continue to work together to build the kind of world we want for our children and grandchildren and generations to come.”

My fourth grandchild is due next week. I look forward to holding this new baby and welcoming him into our family. I am busily crocheting his baby blanket trying to get it done in time. While I crochet at night, I watch hours of television news about the worst mass shooting in US history – 49 people were killed in a gay nightclub, a place they considered safe and welcoming.

My maternal grandparents were born in Slovenia and came to the United States as immigrants in the early 1900’s. My grandfather was one of 11 children. One of his sisters had 10 children; two of her sons and one of her son-in-laws were rounded up and executed along with 30 others in their Slovenian village by the Fascists in 1942. They were my mother’s cousins. Continue reading

Make your voice heard

March is Employee Appreciation Month.  UMHS leadership is hosting breakfast, lunch or dinner at all our sites as a way to say “thank you.” We also conduct our annual Employee Engagement Survey this month. There are only two more days to participate in it.

I’m happy to say the IT department is at an overall participation rate of 66% compared to 48% for all of UMHS.  We had a 90% participation rate in IT two years ago. It was my first year as the new CIO and I made it very clear to the people on staff that I couldn’t address problems in the department if I didn’t know what they were. I needed their input!

Based on the survey results two years ago, we established four workgroups to focus on several key areas. Some areas we were definitely weak on and others we were OK but knew we could improve – recognition and appreciation, employee development and training, service excellence and teamwork.

While we’ve made good progress in all these areas, I’m the first to admit there is still far more work to do.

I have been encouraging our IT department staff to “Make Your Voice Heard.”  There are multiple channels for staff to give me and the entire leadership team input and feedback. In addition to Continue reading