While it may seem like International Women’s Day was first put on the map only a few years ago, the holiday dates all the way back to 1909. Today, International Women’s Day is recognized and celebrated in more than twenty-five countries.
We at Maestro Health want to join in the fun but decided one day just wasn’t going to cut it. So, to celebrate International Women’s Day, we’re taking the entire month of March and “mCHATTING” with some of the women at Maestro Health about careers, inspiration and overcoming obstacles.
We’ll be sharing our mCHATs here on our mBLOG. First up is Sheryl Simmons, Chief Human Resources & Compliance Officer.
Care to share some fun facts about yourself?
I love to sail our boat the Barcelona. I am a total travel junkie. My blood type is French roast. My playlists include 80s hair bands and old school jazz. I don’t have an athletic bone in my uncoordinated body.
How did you get to where you are now?
I believe it has been a combination of being open to possibilities, pushing myself, and simply being in the right place at the right time. In terms of my journey to CHRO at Maestro Health, I was the Vice President of Human Resources at Group Associates, which Maestro Health acquired in 2015. Prior to that, I was the Director of Human Resources at Five Brothers Asset Management Solutions.
What advice do you have for other women in healthcare?
Some of the best advice I have been given in my career is to listen. That’s important enough to bear repeating. Listen. Believe in yourself, surround yourself with strong people that push you to grow, and remember to send the elevator back down. It’s essential that you know your business inside out. As you grow in your role and career, be able to talk the talk of your C-suite and other peers. Keep yourself open to possibilities. You never know when an interesting opportunity will knock on your door.
What are some of the personal experiences that have influenced your thinking around gender diversity in the workplace that have motivated you to get involved in being an advocate for change?
Not just gender diversity but diversity. Period. The idea of denying a highly qualified candidate the opportunity to grow in their career or enrich your business because of their physical makeup is outrageous. Gender, sexual orientation, weight, age, ethnicity, religious beliefs – are you kidding me? The war for talent is raging. Intentionally narrowing the talent pool based on irrelevant details is more than just illegal. It’s a narrow mindset that only does your organization a disservice.
What do you like about Maestro Health?
So many things but first and foremost that we encourage our employees to bring their authentic self to the job every day. Of course, we expect professionalism and for people to embrace our culture and core values. But the fact that we meet them where they’re at and celebrate the diversity they bring to our family – that’s true biz-love.
Are there any books you've read lately that helped inspire you?
Doing Good Better: How Effective Altruism Can Help You Help Others, Do Work that Matters and Make Smarter Choices About Giving Back by William MacAskill
The Empathy Effect: Seven Neuroscience-Based Keys for Transforming the Way We Live, Love, Work and Connect Across Differences by Helen Riess, MD
How do you get involved around your community?
Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer. I believe human beings are fundamentally wired to give. I love that we embrace this at Maestro Health. Maestronites have participated in a number of volunteer and fundraising opportunities, such as working at food pantries, making blankets for the homeless and foster kids, and school supply drives across all four of our locations. You don’t have to be rich to be a philanthropist. Your time is incredibly valuable. Get involved in what matters to you.
Are there any women you look to as inspiration?
I really enjoy following Libby Sartain to hear her perspective on Human Resources.
What is the biggest roadblock you've experienced in your career & how did you overcome it?
It’s sadly not an uncommon experience, but I have worked at organizations where men in positions of authority viewed women as “lesser” in the business world. How did I overcome it? I put them in my rearview mirror. Life is too short for that nonsense.
Research suggests that women can face different challenges in the workplace making it more difficult to access opportunities, networks, resources, etc. In your view, what are some of these systemic challenges that still need to be addressed?
Unfortunately, there are still many cultural gender biases that still exist both in the workplace and in relationships. For instance, childcare and managing a household are still often considered a woman’s responsibility when it's truly a parental or partner responsibility.
A common gender bias issue that takes place in the workplace deals with the mental framework of emotional and verbal responses, i.e. a man will make a statement and he's considered assertive but if a woman makes the exact same statement she’s considered “bitchy” and consequently overlooked for growth opportunities.
It’s also all too common to see women who struggle with imposter syndrome. We see it a lot in high-achieving women who believe they're unworthy of the roles they have earned, and fear others will expose them as a fraud. So not only are they facing external challenges, they’re having to refute their internal dialogue as well.
While there’s no magic wand to solve for these challenges, I believe open discussions embracing gender diversity, such as this blog series, can be a piece of the puzzle to help us get there.
Overall, it should never be about men vs. women. Instead, it should always be about who is the best person for the job. And when the best is a woman – fight for her – not because she's a female but because she's the best.