Breaking the glass ceiling is a job for both women and men

It takes negotiation, some awareness and sometimes a lot of gumption.

ORLANDO -- HIMSS executive Carla Smith believes that shattering the glass ceiling requires participation from both women and men.

And, at this morning’s session “Shattering the glass ceiling: Lessons learned for aspiring female executives,” Smith got the ball rolling by including both a man and woman who founded and run their own healthcare IT businesses – and who know a technique or two about building diversity and opportunity in the workplace.

Denise Hines is founder and CEO of eHealth Services Group in Atlanta in 2011. She is also executive director of Georgia Health Information Network.

Hines told the audience she started her company out of necessity. She needed the flexibility to raise her young family.

“My career is important to me,” she said, “but my family is my priority.”

Ruben Amarasingham, MD, is founder and CEO of Pieces Technologies in Dallas. The company develops software that interprets patient data in real-time.

All agreed it’s critical to speak up whenever an organization is out of balance when it comes to gender disparity, whether it’s in compensation, or in other ways.

Hines has done so.

“It took confidence and courage to speak up,” she said, noting that sometimes the manager might not be aware that women might be inadequately represented in the workforce.

As a CEO, Hines said, “I have to make sure we encourage each other to be the best and brightest that we can be.”

It’s important to raise your voice, added Amarasingham, but it’s also important to take action and to monitor how well your company or organization is keeping the balance between men and women when hiring – and also to be watchful that there is equality in compensation.

Smith noted that women might tend to shy away from asking for more compensation, for example, when they’ve been offered a 20 percent raise, “when the man may double his salary,” she said.

Smith reminded the audience to do the homework. Research salaries. Find out what the position you’ve been offered is worth. Educate yourself. She stressed the importance of negotiation skills and noted there are many online resources to explore.

She also recommended role-playing – "in a constructive way as a valuable tool for honing negotiation skills."

This article is part of our ongoing coverage of HIMSS17. Visit Destination HIMSS17 for previews, reporting live from the show floor and after the conference.

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