Cultivating a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion is high priority for dental practices and corporations of any size. For Henry Schein, establishing employee resource groups (ERGs) dedicated to promoting a diverse and inclusive culture has transformed the way employees engage personally and professionally.
The company’s first ERG, the Women’s Leadership Network (WLN), gathers women and allies to encourage equity across the organization, and in the dental profession.
“When Henry Schein introduced WLN as its first ERG, I believe we recognized the importance in highlighting women in all areas of business but especially within the dental profession,” said Maureen Knott, vice president of strategic marketing and founding member and executive sponsor of WLN.
Established in 2017 by a group of women desiring actionable change, WLN aligns itself with Henry Schein’s core values while expanding its goals to enhance women’s opportunities through internal policy changes and development. The impacts of WLN also aim to extend beyond Henry Schein, uplifting women in dentistry through its initiatives.
“I grew up around the dental community and have watched the profession make great strides in diversity,” said says Gabriela Garces, zone regional manager and WLN field chapter co-lead. “It’s encouraging to see more women than ever becoming dental professionals. There is still much work to be done in helping women overcome challenging social expectations and achieve work-life balance while pursuing their career goals.”
WLN ensures its mission and goals align with 5 strategic pillars to drive results for members and Henry Schein. In raising awareness of women’s singular experiences and partnering with stakeholders to initiate change, the network is seeing undeniable growth in individual members and WLN as a whole.
WLN has also contributed to the creation of the SHE: Successful Healthcare Entrepreneurship brand, which aims to build a community of dental and medical practitioners to support integrated health care through a variety of collaboration opportunities.
Fundamental to WLN’s success is the support of Henry Schein’s leadership, which has provided funding for programs, joined the Paradigm for Parity coalition, and implemented critical policy and workplace changes, including flexible working schedules, a paid parental leave policy, and updates to parenting rooms.
While these changes are specific to Henry Schein, the impact on the dental industry is significant and WLN’s programming aligns nicely with the work of industry-led organizations, such as Women in DSO, the official nonprofit organization supporting the empowerment and growth of women leaders in dental support organizations.
“Over the years, the number of women in dentistry has grown significantly and now represents 54.5% of the dental population,” Knott said. “The need to empower female dentists by providing leadership skills applicable to this profession is vital for their future. The shift is happening now, and Henry Schein is at the forefront to provide the products and services needed to advance their careers.”