Celebrating the power women bring to our organizations

According to the US Department of Labor, 80 percent of health care decisions are made by women. At Brookdale, 81 percent of our associates and 80 percent of our residents are women. As we celebrate Women’s History Month and all that women have accomplished throughout history, the important role women play in healthcare is not lost on me. When you consider the numbers reported by the US Department of Labor or even Brookdale’s representation, it’s clear how critical it is to have women involved in both decision-making and leadership.

Giving women seats at the table

When I came to Brookdale in 2015, the executive leadership team and board did not fully reflect the population we served or our partners, and I felt strongly that we could improve our performance as a team by increasing our diversity. Research shows that diverse teams perform better. According to a Harvard Business Review article, a report found that companies “in the top quartile for ethnic and racial diversity in management were 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their industry average, and those in the top quartile for gender diversity were 15 percent more likely to have returns above the industry average.”

Further, according to the Harvard Business Review article, “[O]Organizations with at least one female board member delivered a higher return on equity and higher net income growth than those with no female board members.” The Harvard Business Review article succinctly concludes, “[N]homogeneous groups are simply smarter.’ The results speak for themselves. But promoting diversity requires a proactive approach: change requires action.

Our organizations can be better when we actively include diverse voices. Determined to integrate more women into leadership at Brookdale, we changed the demographics of the leaders who made up our board. In 2018, only one woman served on Brookdale’s board of directors. By 2021, the New York Women’s Forum named Brookdale a corporate champion for leading gender equality on its board.

Pursue change and it will make an impact

Through the efforts of Kathy MacDonald, our senior vice president of Investor Relations, our focus on diversity caught the attention of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). In May 2020, NYSE leaders invited me to join their advisory board. The purpose of the NYSE Advisory Board is to identify and connect various director candidates with NYSE-listed companies seeking new directors. I was so fortunate to have this opportunity to help place board candidates, fostering connections with companies looking for new directors.

Brookdale also received recognition from 2020 Women on Boards – now known as 50/50 Women on Boards® – a non-profit global education and advocacy campaign committed to promoting gender balance and diversity on corporate boards, which awarded us the winning ‘W’ company designation for our commitment to board diversity and rated us ‘GB’ for having a gender-balanced board. We received a 2020 Corporate Citizenship Award from the Conference Board Committee on Economic Development, presented annually to a company that demonstrates a strong commitment to corporate responsibility practices and whose leaders are actively involved in supporting and expanding these efforts. In addition, Brookdale was honored as a Corporate Board Walk of Fame inductee by Cable, a Nashville-based women’s networking organization.

Diverse teams perform better. An amazing fusion of ideas has resulted from the collaboration between our veteran leaders (some with more than thirty years of senior experience) and newcomers to our industry. Several of our recent external hires have unique healthcare or operational expertise, and their voices have led to a burst of creativity in adapting best practices from their experiences. Executives with deep knowledge outside of seniors (such as hospitality or other parts of the healthcare continuum, including hospital systems) have also added tremendous value to our business.

As we seek to learn and grow each day, our greatest focus is on those whose care we are entrusted to provide. When we look at the incredible achievements of women this month, I am inspired by our partners and look at our residents and marvel at all they have seen and encountered. For some, they witnessed a time when women did not have the right to vote or the opportunity to be educated or work. During my visits to the community, so many residents have come up to tell me how much it means to them to see a woman leading Brookdale. I am so honored by their support and happy to carry the torch. For them and all our residents and partners we are committed to leadership that represents everyone.

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