As part of an interview series with strong women leaders, Thrive Global sat down with Linda Hand, CEO of Prealize Health. Linda shared stories from her 35 years of experience in leadership, mentorship, and the importance of diversity, inclusion and equity in the workplace. Read below for highlights, and access the full interview here.
Thrive Global: As you know, the United States is currently facing a very important self-reckoning about race, diversity, equality and inclusion. Can you articulate to our readers a few reasons why it is so important for a business or organization to have a diverse executive team?
Linda Hand: Diverse teams can be stronger teams, but must be inclusive first and foremost. Such teams make better decisions, they incorporate different perspectives and they value, encourage and actively seek out the input of others. Executives in a diverse and inclusive team are more collaborative and are more likely to value that in their own teams, thus building strong, well rounded organizations of their own. To intentionally and deliberately recruit, attract and develop a variety of individuals starts at the top, in the executive suite and on the board. One of my key decision criteria for joining Prealize was the value of diversity embodied by the board, the team and the advisors and founders fostered inclusiveness and debate throughout the interview process.
Ultimately, the current healthcare crisis and climate are highlighting a stark need for change, and next-generation health analytics powered by artificial intelligence now enable accurate targeting of individual patients as well as proactive measures that can preserve health, improve engagement, and enhance outcomes.
As a business leader, can you please share a few steps we must take to truly create an inclusive, representative, and equitable society?
It starts with sharing core values that not only support, but require inclusion and equity, the willingness to challenge our subconscious biases and the courage to refuse to tolerate anything less. We need to make active commitments to each other to challenge and change. Awareness and introspection have been critical for my team, especially since the death of George Floyd. We realized that we could do better, that simply “saying” was not doing. We realized that we weren’t doing enough to promote and attract a representative community of employees, that we really didn’t even have a true baseline from which to measure. We became founding members to sign the ParityPledge™ in support of People of Color (we had already pledged in Support of Women when i joined). Public statements about what we are doing, what product innovations we are funding — all these things have been very important in elevating our team’s focus and attention on racial equality.
What are the biggest challenges faced by women executives that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?
There are so many articles and books written on this topic, but the most prominent thing is that expectations are different, both externally and internally imposed. Women are much harder on themselves than men, expecting to know something like 90% of how to do a job before feeling “qualified,” whereas men will typically feel qualified at around 30% of the qualifications. In my experience, with males dominating leadership positions across industries, men supporting men, hiring in their likeness, they are less likely to hire a diverse team and more likely to set a higher bar for performance for women than men. I’m generalizing here, and there are wonderful exceptions to this; male leaders who do everything they can to create equitable opportunities for all shapes, size, colors and genders. But women just have fewer role models in the leadership ranks, fewer women leaders to raise them up, and the women that are there don’t always see that as their responsibility.
For more leadership lessons from Linda, read the full interview here.