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Medavie has Proud History of Gender Equality

Posted by Medavie Blue Cross on March 06, 2020

Medavie has been shaped by extraordinary leadership, dating all the way back to the early 1940s when a group of men and women, concerned with the cost and availability of quality health care, gathered at a lodge in Pictou, Nova Scotia. They wanted something that the public system couldn’t offer. Committed to the ideals of non-profit repayment health care, they formed a co-operative to turn those ideals into reality.

Our First Executive Director was a Woman


Photo of Ruth Cook Wilson

One of the prime movers behind this co-operative became the first executive director of the Maritime Hospital Service Association (MHSA) – a co-operative that would later become Medavie. Her name was Ruth Cook Wilson. She was the first woman in North America to hold such a position.

Miss Wilson led the association for 15 years – from MHSA’s incorporation until her retirement in 1958. She was well regarded as a highly capable and innovative administrator who laid the cornerstone of the future Medavie. A board resolution, honouring her memory, recognized Miss Wilson as the driving force in ensuring that Blue Cross-Blue Shield protection and benefits were made available to the public. She led the way in the creation of the first prepayment plan for medical services in Atlantic Canada. Eventually, she served the health care field at national and international levels.

It is women and men like Miss Wilson that are responsible for the health care that we enjoy today. Through tireless effort and tremendous sacrifice, they were able to take the not-for-profit health care philosophy and make it work for the benefit of millions of Canadians. The impact of their contributions to Canada’s health care system is beyond measurement.

We are fortunate that Medavie continues to be led by women and men who, guided by the same ideals of those Pictou pioneers, work tirelessly toward a healthier future for Canadians.

We Appreciate the Benefits of Diversity and Inclusiveness

“Strong organizations and leaders understand the power of diverse views and backgrounds, and how this makes for more meaningful and impactful decisions and direction,” said Medavie CEO Bernard Lord in a Globe and Mail article that declares “diversity is better for business.

We recognize there are many benefits of having women leader’s in our organization, not the least of which is that they can be role models and mentors to other women. A KPMG study on Women’s Leadership found that 86% of women who see a more women in leadership, are encouraged they can also get to the top.

Moreover, women are just as qualified as men to be in positions of power in terms of their education and experience. As of 2015, 35 per cent of Canadian women had a university certificate or degree, compared to 30 per cent of men, according to Statistics Canada.

The findings of A Harvard Business Review study, which investigated male versus, female leadership, indicated that women have core competencies proven as most important to overall leadership effectiveness (based on 30 years of research). The study found that women "take care", scoring higher than men in building relationships, inspiring and motivating others, practicing self-development, They also "take charge”, outscoring men to the highest degree on taking initiative and driving for results.

We Recognize We Can Do More to Help Women Advance

Despite this, women still have come a long way to go in moving up Canada’s corporate ladder. In fact, a 2017 McKinsey Report on gender inequality revealed that women hold only 25 per cent of vice-president positions and 15 per cent of CEO positions in Canada’s workplace.

Yet, this same report showed that bridging the gender gap is paying dividends for companies that invest in inclusive leadership. It found that high-performing businesses tend to have more women at the top: 37 per cent of leaders in higher-performing companies are women, compared to 19 per cent of leaders in lower-ranked companies.

So how can we help more women break the “glass ceiling” and advance to leadership roles? We believe that we can promote inclusive leadership in a number ways, and this includes investing in professional development and management training.

Most significantly, we need to create cultures that promote inclusiveness and diversity, which in turn can enhance employee engagement, build brand, and support recruitment and retention efforts.

The McKinsey study revealed that companies with the highest levels of diversity (either gender, ethnic, or racial) are anywhere from 15 to 35 per cent more likely to have financial returns above their industry’s national average.

Gender Equality Is Not Just a Women's Issue

Clearly, gender equality is not just a women’s issue it’s a societal and economic issue. The McKinsey report suggested that removing barriers that prevent women from getting to the top could boost Canada’s economy by as much as $150 billion by 2026. If the gender gap was eliminated entirely, that number could rise to as high as $420 billion.

International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate women's achievements, while promoting a gender equal world. This year’s theme EachForEqual invites us to do what we can, individually and collectively, to make change happen so that our world healthier, wealthier and more harmonious. Who can’t get behind that?

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