An Interview with the Co-Chairs
America’s Blood Centers (ABC) recently launched the Women’s Executive Leadership Community (WELC), a new initiative aimed at inspiring and connecting women leaders throughout the blood community. WELC was developed following conversations among Kate Fry, ABC’s CEO, Lisa Entrikin
The Chief Executive Officer of Rock River Valley Blood Center, and Kim Kinsell, President and CEO of LifeSouth Community Blood Centers.
“Kate came to Kim and I as female CEOs on her board and said that there were fifteen female CEOs within the ABC group. Kim and I were very surprised, because when you think about who is employed across community blood centers across the nation, it’s predominantly female,” said Entrikin.
“I think we see a lot of females in the C-Suite and hold positions of medical director or CFO. But really, they don’t quite make it to the top at the percentage that they probably should, when you consider how many women are in significant positions within the industry,” said Kinsell. “I think for Lisa and I, the data itself really hit home.”
According to McKinsey & Co. and LeanIn.Org’s Women in the Workplace report, “women face their biggest hurdle at the ﬁrst critical step up to manager,” an effect they called the broken rung. The report found that for every 100 men promoted from entry level to manager in the most recent reporting year, just 87 women were promoted. The data also found that women are unable to catch up to their male counterparts due to this broken rung.
The study also found that, “over the past nine years, women—and especially women of color—have remained underrepresented across the corporate pipeline. However, we see a growing bright spot in senior leadership. Since 2015, the number of women in the C-suite has increased from 17 to 28 percent, and the representation of women at the vice president and senior vice president levels has also improved signiﬁcantly.”
Entrikin and Kinsell decided to help form WELC and become its co-chairs to provide all women and those who support them across the blood community the kind of support they have received.
“When I stepped into my role, I had a CEO from another blood center reach out to me and offer to mentor,” said Entrikin. “It was just a wonderful opportunity for me to really have somebody that I could bounce ideas off of.”
“I had a female mentor. My former CEO was female and that that made a huge difference for me in terms of my belief in myself that I could do the position and that I could navigate within a world that was predominantly male and had a lot of male CEOs,” said Kinsell.
“Oftentimes as the CEO or in any leadership position, you need to have a sounding board. You need to have somebody who can provide guidance and can really help talk through a lot of the things that you go through, especially as you’re learning or with any challenging situation. Having someone, male or female is important,” added Kinsell.
The co-chairs noted that ensuring women are better represented across the workplace can make a lasting difference.
“Having the ability to talk to somebody who maybe has the same situation that you have – whether that’s your balancing being a mother, a wife, and a leader – those are unique challenges. Having this fellowship with a lot of other female executives is important to really helping all of us be successful,” Kinsell said.
“Some things with being a female leader are things that we bring on ourselves. We tend to as women, not always be good at saying no prioritizing yourself first. To have other people who can relate to that and really talk through how to best address those types of challenges has been so helpful for me,” said Entrikin.
The new community aim to be resource not just for women, but also the men who work and manage them.
“The issues that face women as leaders face everybody as leaders. They may be more pronounced in certain aspects for women, but they do face everyone. So, men can learn from the things we’re going to tackle as well,” said Entrikin. “I really do believe this is a community for everyone and everybody can get something out of it,” said Entrikin.
“I know that while we’re in our infancy, I think a lot of the program development we want to do in terms of education really is in many ways some of the soft skills. One of the avenues that WELC really wants to sort of take the community down, men and women, is really just not only on being inclusive, but it’s a lot of the soft skills, the leadership development and things that I think our industry as a whole probably doesn’t really focus on,” said Kinsell.
The importance of soft skills – areas like leadership, communication and problem-solving – is well known.
A study conducted more than 100 years ago by Harvard University, the Carnegie Foundation and Stanford Research Center, found that 85% of job success comes from having well‐developed soft skills.
However, many industries are just now starting to comprehensively provide these skills as employees increasingly seek them. Forbes recently highlighted a McKinsey study, which found that “between 2019 and 2020, skills like leadership and management became a much bigger priority for most companies, jumping ten percentage points year over year, from 40% to 50%.”
“We focus on donor recruitment, we focus on policy, we focus on supply chain. But you know any leader – male or female – all need these soft skills to make them not only better leaders of their organization, but to also help them be better peers to be help them be better managers. We are really excited to see an opportunity for WELC to really take on an area in our industry that we feel like has probably not been addressed as robustly as it as it could be,” said Kinsell.
WELC held its first-ever event this month, a webinar titled, “Taming the Tyranny of the Urgent”, featuring Dr. Meghan Kinter, the Sr. Director of Strategy and Business Development for the Achievement Center of LECOM Health and LECOM Health’s Behavioral Health Service Line, who provided strategies to help increase productivity, focus, and joy in the workplace.
Membership to WELC is free for all employees of ABC members and industry partners. Interested individuals can sign up for email updates and join the LinkedIn group to receive regular updates on networking events, professional development opportunities, mentoring programs, and educational resources.
WELC is the first initiative launched as part of ABC’s new Executive Leadership Initiative, designed to help blood center leaders get the professional development they need to meet today’s challenges.
“I applaud Kate and the ABC team for recognizing this need and helping to fill a void. And I I’m very thankful to the ABC board outside of Kim and I that really embraced this and recognized that it’s a great idea and a role that ABC can fill for its members,” said Entrikin.
“I’m just looking forward to seeing what we’re going to develop into 2024,” she added.