Amongst a global landscape that is recognising the importance of inclusivity, the dental industry is one of many market sectors seeing a promising development in gender diversity. As the organisation Women in DSO highlights, deliberate inclusion of diversity across all cross sections of our workplaces - at micro and macro levels within organisations, and in how we look out to the world - is essential to a stable, holistic, and innovative society.
Business success, improved stability and increased profits are all linked to an increase in gender diversity in business, according to the Global Gender Gap Report 2020. Organisational commitments towards gender parity help improve corporate success, whilst having a workforce that reflects the demographics of your customer base attracts broader sales and ensures a more positive reputation in a changing landscape.
I wanted to speak with industry leaders putting these plans into practice. Where does gender diversity in the dental industry sit now and how can we implement changes successfully?
Lauryn Gordon, Head of Global Talent Insights and Organisational Effectiveness with Dentsply Sirona, noted the increasing momentum for gender diversity in the dental industry; “gender diversity in the dental industry has accelerated rapidly over the last 10 years…in the USA, up to 50% of dental school graduates are female, and the number of female dentists in the workforce increased from 24% to 35% between 2010-2020. By 2040, the industry is expected to reach gender parity”
Touqeer Zahid, Assistant Director of Human Resources at Straumann, offered a perspective on gender diversity in Pakistan today; “the country is very much a traditionalist and the vision right now is to get more females on board. In 2020 the female population for the Pakistani entity was 0%; moving forward, in 2022, the female population is now at 13%. The goal in 2023 is to reach 33%.”
It’s clear that industry momentum for improving gender diversity is strong and changes are developing. How are industry leaders implementing growth?
Practical steps are key to genuine change. Zahid shared that Straumann recognises the impact of unconscious bias, and offers training to employees with the goal of increasing inclusion and psychological safety across diverse populations. She also highlighted its commitment to working towards a culture where at least 80% of its people believe that diverse perspectives are valued. With this in mind, they have plans in place to support the progression of 50% of females within the company to global leadership roles by 2026, with innovative mentoring and developmental programs in place to help achieve this.
Sarah Waltman, Global Talent Management VP with Dentsply Sirona, described the company’s inclusive culture; “you come here and it’s not just something leadership is saying - you can feel it lived throughout the organisation”.
Whilst an understanding of the positive steps of inclusion is essential in improving gender diversity, the challenges in opening up the sector cannot be overlooked. How do we overcome them?
Waltman explains the need to work from the top down and bottom up to nurture inclusivity and accelerate diversity in the organisation; “diversity in leadership attracts diversity, and finding ways to sponsor women for leadership roles is so important to helping other women advance in the organization. Grassroots efforts like Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) have helped engage and connect employees across the globe. We also use metrics to track and drive progress, reporting regularly to our leadership team to demonstrate how inclusivity supports success.”
Long term, it’s clear we all have a responsibility to look at a genuine, holistic effort to embed inclusivity as part of our working cultures. When we begin to nurture this environment, welcoming progression, we can begin to see generational change.
These generational changes can nurture a culture that makes future recruitment into the dental industry more gender diverse and welcome a truer representation of society into the market.
Gordon poses some striking questions we can ask ourselves as we do this; “what are the company values that you live by? What is the culture? Does it align with the goal of advancing gender diversity in the organisation? How does diversity enable business success? At Dentsply Sirona, diversity is an enabler of innovation and customer-centricity”.
As women, we have an increasing opportunity to take positions of leadership and influence and help drive change.
Whilst these responsibilities may, at times, be uncomfortable and are not without their challenges, they are essential to genuine inclusion in the dental industry and ensuring that diversity is embedded with integrity within our organisations.
Are you interested in discussing diversity in the dental industry with me in some more detail? Drop me a message to discuss any of the themes in this article at firstname.lastname@example.org, or connect with me on LinkedIn.
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