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Why I Stand for Pay Equity in Health IT

Some things are so obvious that even congress can agree about them.  In the days leading up to Olympics in Rio, the Senate in Washington, D.C. unanimously passed a non-binding resolution that called on the U.S. Soccer Federation to “immediately end gender pay inequity and to treat all athletes with the respect and dignity those athletes deserve.”  The resolution was in support of a complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in March against USFF by World Cup & Olympic Gold medal winning U.S Women’s soccer team members Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn and Hope Solo.  Their filing with the EEOC, which cites figures from the USSF's 2015 financial report, states that “despite the women's team generating nearly $20 million more revenue last year than the U.S. men's team, the women are paid about a quarter of what the men earn.”  Reports on the EEOC complaint illustrate the global implications of this pay discrepancy, discussing that the 2015 US women’s soccer team received $2 Million in World Cup prize money while the German men’s team received $35 million in prize money the previous year.  I, for one, am happy that my daughter and son are growing up in the same world as Carli Lloyd and her teammates, people who show, like so many athletes before them, that they will demand equality off the field with the same ferocity with which they demand victory on the field.

While the world of elite, Olympic-level athletes may seem distant to most of us, the experience of pay inequity is one that is disturbingly familiar within the health IT industry.  The  HIMSS Compensation Survey is comprised of the responses of 1,900 healthcare professionals that includes CEOs, CIOs, IT project managers, sales professionals and those with clinical titles such as CMIO and Clinical Systems Analyst to questions focused on the compensation they receive for their work.  The 2015 survey, which for the first time reviewed responses by gender, describes a 6.8% compensation gap on average between men & women in non-executive management roles who had been in their positions 5-9 years.  In subsequent blog posts (1, 2, 3) on the findings, HIMSS Executive Vice President Carla Smith, puts the findings in stark perspective.  In one example from her posts, Smith describe a man and woman in these positions who are 40 years old, continuing to work full-time until 65, and receiving 3% raises annually.   “Assuming that the 6.8% compensation gap stays constant” she states, “over 26 years, (this) woman will earn $306,227 less than her male peer.”

The findings in analysis of the 2015 compensation survey was one of the impetuses for launching the Women in Health IT initiatives that HIMSS Executive Vice President Carla Smith describes in a recent interview for HIMSS’ STEPS to Value podcast. During the interview, she also describes the other.  Smith talks the results of a December 2015 HIMSS/Healthcare IT News survey of women in health IT, in which 83% of respondents thought that “there was not enough recognition of the contributions that women executives have made to health IT,”  Nearly half of the survey respondents said they “would like to be in a mentoring relationship but are currently not in one.” Smith goes on in the interview to describe all the components of the Women in Health Initiatives including the Most Influential Women in HIT award program (applications accepted through 10/17),  Women in Health IT Roundtable (first event 8/25 @ 2 PMET), and Women in Health IT Networking Reception at HIMSS17 (2/20 @ 5 PM ET).     

Women’s pay inequity in Health IT matters to me and I stand with those fighting for it.  It matters to me because equal work deserves equal pay.  It matters to me because I am the son of my mother, the husband of my wife, the father of my daughter and my son.  It matters to me because knowledge of injustice always carries with it the intrinsic duty to respond to that injustice.  President Obama, another pay equity supporter said it well.  “Progress is not inevitable.  It is the result of choices we make together”.  If pay inequity in HIT matters to you too, make a choice to share your voice.           

Keywords: 
HIMSS; Health IT;