Deerfield Co-Hosts Second Annual Break Into The Boardroom Program

On March 15th and 16th Deerfield co-hosted, along with our co-sponsor, Oxeon Partners, our second class of executive women for a program designed to help promote greater boardroom diversity.  This initiative, recently branded “Break into the Boardroom” began last year on a smaller scale and has continued to evolve its content, participant breadth and speaker diversity in order to improve our ability to be practically and concretely impactful.  Too few boards, particularly in the private company arena, have adequate, if any, gender diversity despite study after study demonstrating the importance of having a range of perspectives and a mix of problem solving, negotiating and management styles present in the boardroom.

This year, Oxeon and Deerfield reached out to a targeted group of healthcare CEOs with whom we have relationships to solicit nominations from within their organizations of board-ready women who would benefit from our program.  This outreach generated about 50 nominations while, at the same time, also enabled us to engage these executive leaders in a dialogue emphasizing how important it is to support and cultivate the women in their organizations who might have an interest in governance. 

The resultant group of nominees came from a wide range of healthcare companies located throughout the United States and represented a broad cross section of operating and management disciplines.  Despite Storm Stella, 30 of our nominees fought their way to New York to participate in the program, which kicked off with a networking dinner and was followed by full day of programming that featured 12 outside speakers.  The morning portion of the curriculum was focused on ensuring that everyone would walk away from the event with at least a basic understanding of how boards function and the roles and responsibilities of directors.  The afternoon sessions were devoted to helping the women position themselves to be considered and ultimately selected for board roles, and to sharing insights into how to evaluate the various attributes, advantages and risks of different board opportunities.  In addition to these content-oriented objectives, the day was also intended to help build a community of female healthcare leaders who will be able to tap into each other for mentorship and referrals going forward. 

Most foundationally, the day was designed based on the overarching aspiration of getting these women placed on boards.  We believe that the Deerfield-Oxeon marriage is uniquely suited to delivering on this aim.  To be successful in truly improving board diversity requires positively impacting both the supply of eligible women candidates and the actual demand for specific board members.  Oxeon, with its deep network of healthcare thought leaders and executives and its insights into what characteristics boards are seeking, is well positioned to help improve the supply of women candidates by helping find and promote them.  Deerfield, with its role in helping fund and establish companies, is well positioned to impact demand by emphasizing gender diversity as an important objective of the boards it forms and sits on. 

We look forward to continuing and growing the Break into the Boardroom program and ultimately being able to report back on tangible results relative to our objectives.