International Women’s Day marks the inauguration of the group and kicks off a month of events for executive leaders

Click here to watch video from members of Black Women Leaders Connect group and click here for event calendar.

Newswise — (New York, NY – March 8, 2021) Recognizing the importance of role models in increasing diversity and inclusion at the executive level in health care, Black women who are executive- and senior-level administrative and clinical leaders at the Mount Sinai Health System have joined together to create a mentoring program called “Black Women Leaders Connect.” This first-of-its-kind initiative is focused on increasing the recruitment and elevation of Black women to executive roles in health care and to nurturing and guiding the next generation of leaders within Mount Sinai and in the community.

Launched by Mount Sinai’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion, the group will create a space in which Black women connect to support one another, become role models and mentors throughout the organization, and drive change in the executive space. The group will seek innovative ways to promote belonging, collaboration, and networking; develop recommendations that support the organization’s goals for strategic diversity, equity, and inclusion; and create a model for growing Black leaders within the organization.

“Several years ago, I realized that many of our Black women leaders across the system did not know one another. From the sheer desire to make connections, ODI started hosting small gatherings after work for senior Black women at the VP administrative level. There were only a few of us at the time. We have since grown to over 30 members. Ultimately, our goal is to position ourselves as the role models, mentors, coaches and support for Black women across the organization and within our communities,” said Pamela Abner, MPA, CPXP, Vice President and Chief Diversity Operations Officer for the Mount Sinai Hospitals Group. By providing mentorship, coaching and encouragement for Black women throughout their career journeys within and beyond Mount Sinai, we are building a network of support and expanding our voice in the organization. Through these efforts, our partnerships within and outside the health system, we seek to increase representation of Black women at the administrative leadership level at Mount Sinai.”

Black women have traditionally been underrepresented at the executive level in all sectors. In health care, that underrepresentation has implications for improving inclusivity and decision-making, and for addressing issues related to access and well-being among underserved communities. A 2021 study released by the Leverage Network found that the composition of health care boards was 87 percent white, and that 72 percent of board members were male, with Black women accounting for only 3 percent of members. Meanwhile, only 8.5 percent of health care CEOs were Black, and none within that group were women.

“The lack of diversity we see at the board and executive level in health care presents an opportunity, driving change from within our organization. If we have a seat at the table where decisions are made, we will benefit the communities we serve. Our aim is to close the gap in Black women role models in all industries and sectors, and break the cycle of underrepresentation,” said LeWanza M. Harris, MD, MPH, Vice President of Quality and Regulatory Affairs for the Mount Sinai Health System.

Group members have developed and committed to five affirmations in their stand against racism. They will:

  • Leverage their leadership roles to engage in and sustain necessary dialogue around diversity and solidarity across Mount Sinai by facilitating focus groups and discussions, and by providing and suggesting resources to support causes that will impact and change policies
  • Research, volunteer with, and donate to organizations that are committed to anti-racism causes, building safe and supportive communities for men of color, and increasing voter registration
  • Sign up to participate in more research for Black and minority health, starting with the All of Us initiative to map our genomes for creation of targeted medicine
  • Support, buy from, and/or invest in Black-owned, Black woman-owned, and minority-owned businesses, including banks and other financial institutions
  • Sign and share petitions that bring attention to causes that fight injustice and unfair treatment of Black people

The Black Women Leaders Connect Employee Resource Group’s priorities for 2021 include mentoring early- and middle-career Black women professionals, offering them support and advice on their career decisions and providing career development opportunities such as networking events, speaker series, and information on upcoming conferences.

“The leaders we support and put in place today set the vision and pave the way for the leaders of tomorrow, because they are using their voices and their positions to advocate for change, and to inspire or encourage more women of color to claim their seat at the table,” said Ms. Abner. “We are proud to have the full support of the Mount Sinai Health System in our efforts because the potential for increased diversity and cultivating an equitable environment will not only transform and enhance an inclusive culture but will also help us to deliver on our mission to provide outstanding care to the diverse communities we serve.”

About the Mount Sinai Health System

The Mount Sinai Health System is New York City's largest academic medical system, encompassing eight hospitals, a leading medical school, and a vast network of ambulatory practices throughout the greater New York region. Mount Sinai is a national and international source of unrivaled education, translational research and discovery, and collaborative clinical leadership ensuring that we deliver the highest quality care—from prevention to treatment of the most serious and complex human diseases. The Health System includes more than 7,200 physicians and features a robust and continually expanding network of multispecialty services, including more than 400 ambulatory practice locations throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, and Long Island. The Mount Sinai Hospital is ranked No. 14 on U.S. News & World Report's "Honor Roll" of the Top 20 Best Hospitals in the country and the Icahn School of Medicine as one of the Top 20 Best Medical Schools in country. Mount Sinai Health System hospitals are consistently ranked regionally by specialty and our physicians in the top 1% of all physicians nationally by U.S. News & World Report.

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