Workplace dynamics—especially within healthcare—continue to change. Whether it is caring for patients on a unit or collaborating on plans through video conferencing, how we work has evolved based on shifts driven in large part by the COVID-19 pandemic. As Forbes releases its latest list of Best Employers for Women 2022, how organizations support their teams takes on special meaning, especially as employees and job candidates evaluate what matters most to them—in an employer and where they work.
One of the 2022 honorees includes Sutter Health, a not-for-profit, integrated healthcare network serving more than 3 million patients in Northern California. A previous Best Employers winner by Forbes in 2020 and 2021, women make up nearly 77% of the health system’s workforce. Thirty-five healthcare organizations were recognized as part of Forbes’ list. In this subset, Sutter Health ranked 18th placing it as a top 20 healthcare system employer for women in the nation.
“Sutter Health appreciates our entire workforce and how they help improve the health of our communities,” said James Conforti, interim president and CEO of Sutter Health. “Over the past 100 years, hundreds of thousands of women have played a pivotal role in shaping Sutter’s history, influencing our not-for-profit mission and the care we deliver today. Their strong legacy continues on as new generations of women within our organization continue to improve our workplaces and our communities for the better.”
“As an integrated health system, we are rooted in care and compassion,” said Jill Ragsdale, chief people and culture officer, who has been with Sutter Health a combined 20-plus years. “We value diverse voices and cultivating an inclusive work environment. This framework and living our values everyday as an organization is fundamental to supporting and empowering women to meet our goals, mentor colleagues and advance their careers while supporting the care and healing of others.”
Using anonymous surveys sent September–November 2021 and January–February 2022, Forbes and market research company Statista verified the best-liked organizations by employees. Determining factors included potential for development, working conditions, diversity, salary, benefits, etc. Employees were also asked to rate whether they would recommend working for their employer to others.
As a healthcare organization, Sutter has taken extra measures to support the well-being of its workforce in the face of an ongoing pandemic. One example includes creating 24/7 access to its Employee Assistance Program. EAP matches staff with resources such as childcare assistance, elder support and financial consulting. Sutter also heavily invested in mental health support, including anxiety and depression counseling, traumatic event recovery, grief response, stress relief, disaster coping and resilience training.
As another means of staff support, Sutter retrained, reassigned and redeployed thousands of employees across its integrated network since the onset of COVID-19. Sutter Health University tripled its capacity last year for training new graduate nurses and experienced nurses who chose to move into critical care and some specialties, the largest such training program in the network’s footprint.
Sutter has other longstanding programs in place to celebrate diversity across its network, including several Inclusion Resource Groups. These IRGs represent groups of employees across the network dedicated to fostering a culture of inclusion where all individuals feel respected, are treated fairly and have an opportunity to excel in their chosen careers. In addition to a Women’s IRG, they have those dedicated to support Ability, Military & Veterans, Multiculturalism and Pride.
Theresa Frei, interim chief operating officer for Sutter Health, said the health system remains focused on continuing to invest in its teams, and especially values how this recent acknowledgement is based upon employees’ personal feedback and experiences.
“Our employees come to work because of our mission and the teams they work with, and it is our diverse teams that create an environment where everyone feels welcome,” said Frei, another longtime Sutter Health leader who has 20 years of service.
“We appreciate the opportunity to care for those who help care for others,” she continued. “Every level of our organization contributes to the delivery of exceptional, compassionate care. From our clinical teams to our support services, it’s their collective energy and spirit that helps us provide high-quality, valuable and accessible care to the diverse communities we serve across Northern California.”