On International Women’s Day 2022, Inna Nadelwais, executive director at Middle East and Africa medtech trade association Mecomed, examines the road still to travel towards true gender parity in the MEA medtech workforce, and why diversity, inclusion, and equality in the workplace benefits all parties.
The MEA region continues to transition through the new normal, adapting to unforeseen challenges, and adopting new strategies to thrive in today’s accelerated hybrid world.
These changes have highlighted that ‘formulas for success’ are unique to each organization. Furthermore, organizations with a diverse workforce have a higher percentage of profitability than those that do not. We have witnessed this specifically in the region’s healthcare systems. The industry finds itself in a promising position, where recognizing the importance of diversification, especially in empowering women in the field of medical technology, can drive greater value in business outcomes while providing the best care for patients.
Female employees have made significant contributions to the medtech industry at different levels across industries in the region. Their uncompromising commitment to their responsibilities has helped them to thrive in an opportunistic environment. They still must fight against workplace inequities and obstacles in many instances and we must focus both our attention and action on eliminating these challenges At Mecomed, we are continuously aiming to help bridge the gaps found in gender equity, diversity, and inclusion for female medtech industry employees who deserve opportunities to make a difference in healthcare.
In 2021, Mecomed in collaboration with SpenglerFox, conducted a survey of the MEA medtech industry to gain a better understanding of current gender diversity and inclusion challenges. The results revealed that while men generally perceived that enough was being done within an organization regarding gender equality, women saw a gap and preferred more action.
When we gathered data from participants across a multitude of medtech roles in the MEA region, we discovered that only one percent of the CEOs were women, while men were nearly three times more represented at the Vice President or C-level. In general, men held higher managerial roles, whereas most junior staff were women. When it came to diverse career opportunities, the ratio of office-based to field-based roles was essentially reversed between the genders, with men at 69 percent in the field and women at 66 percent in the office.
Awareness of some gaps and improvements in the workforce, seemed evenly spread among genders. 65 percent of men were aware of ongoing initiatives promoted in their organizations, whereas only 54 percent of women proclaimed the same. Men, on the other hand, appeared unconcerned about the challenges encountered by women, since 96 percent of them said being a female is no barrier to career success, nearly 30 percent of women disagreed. And almost all men (95 percent) believed that pay equity exists in their firms, while around 43 percent of women were of the opposite opinion.
Additionally, our survey revealed that 70 percent of men believed their workplace was free of gender stereotyping and 82 percent of them thought their employers were committed to gender equality across levels. Significant minorities (27 percent of women and 12 percent of men) said diversity and inclusion policies either did not exist at their firms or were applied only during the hiring process. Despite other findings, a staggering majority (87 percent of men and two in three women) said parity was applied during both hiring and promotion.
In the era of hybrid working, about 78 percent of men and 62 percent of women said their employers provided flexible work opportunities to all times, regardless of gender and family status. And in general, around 80 percent said their organization promoted work-life balance. We can only hope that recent advancements in the workplace are pushing us towards a more optimistic future with regard to equity issues.
To champion inclusion, diversity, and equality in the workplace, more initiatives and assertiveness must be included in the strategies going forward. And Mecomed, as a trade association, is dedicated to not only pushing this narrative but also implementing initiatives that involve the entire industry. Together, we can empower medtech employers to be more proactive on closing the gender gap, provide enhanced mentorship programs and promote the adoption of policies that place parity as a top priority within the long-term goals of each organization. We can only benefit and flourish if we continue to foster a diverse environment filled with motivated and talented individuals who feel a sense of belonging and have the potential to make a lasting impact on the world of medical technology.