Mercer recently announced a strategic alliance with Progyny, in support of fertility and women’s health. I’m excited by this organization’s innovative solutions that expand access to fertility services, improve clinical quality, and reduce maternity-related costs — as well as the work we’ve done together to refine their program for employers. More broadly, I’m proud of the work that Mercer has conducted in support of gender diversity and women in the workplace. The topic is very current in American society, so I’ve compiled a number of notable items:
- The Shriver Report has called the female labor force America’s most underutilized resource.
- Woman may not reach boardroom parity for another 40 years.
- Paula Johnson spoke at TED about his and her health, specifically citing examples about how lung cancer and heart disease express themselves very differently in women versus men, yet most research studies do not differentiate between genders.
- Women are twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with clinical depression.
- Two-thirds of the five million people diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in the US are women.
- Women who report higher levels of body shame have worse physical health than others — it’s notable that Women’s Health magazine is now retiring the term “bikini body.”
- Nearly 20 percent of American women have been raped, almost a third have been a victim of domestic violence, and three a day are killed in a domestic homicide.
- More women in the United States are dying more from pregnancy and childbirth complications now than they were a decade ago (60,000 women every year).
- One in eight couples has trouble getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy.
During my first year at Mercer, one thing that stood out for me is how serious the company is about supporting women in the workplace, with initiatives such as Women@Mercer and others focused on specific women’s health issues. I’ve also been pleasantly surprised by the number of internal strategy discussions in which I’ve participated as part of a male minority.
I recently had a conversation with a female coworker on the subject of women’s health. When I commented that I felt a little bit like an imposter for speaking on the subject, not being a woman, my colleague disagreed. She felt that the support of advocates who are outside of the group can be just as strong as of those from within.
And you know what? She’s right. It’s also the right approach for other constituencies, such as ethnic minorities and the LGBT community.
So that leads to my challenge for all of my male counterparts: Learn about the inequities that women in the workplace face — as you can see from the list of statistics above, it goes deeper than pay. Learn about ethnic health disparities and challenges in the LGBT community or others that you don’t count yourself a part of. If we go beyond the headlines and learn the details, perhaps we can start improving some of those statistics.