The MedTech industry has in recent years been the subject of some scrutiny as our understanding of diversity and inclusivity continues to rise.1 While the healthcare industry as a whole, depending on how it is defined, has some of the highest ratios of female representation, data indicates that women continue to report feeling an imbalance in the workplace that prevents them from advancing in their position.1
Amara Pabon with her family.
In the middle of Women’s History Month, we are particularly reflective both of the ongoing process that is unlearning unconscious bias, but also of the incredible Spartan women who have ascended the ranks and now carry the baton, some of whom carved out new positions when Covid-19 prompted us to take action wherever and however necessary. With this year’s theme being “Women Providing Healing, Promoting Hope” we thought Spartan women were particularly significant.
“I’d known about the company for years, but there wasn’t an open position,” said Amara Pabon, Chief of Clinical Operations. “When COVID-19 hit, the company really pivoted their daily operations and began providing PPE for healthcare workers. From there that grew into getting involved with K-thru-12 COVID-19 testing throughout the country, which then grew into partnering with Brightstar and working with the Maryland Department of Health to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine.”
With a Master’s in Business Learning and a clinical background as a registered nurse, Pabon was ready to take on the challenge of leading the training program for Spartan’s clinical operations mobile operation unit.
“To say that we were a non-traditional company already would have been true,” says Sophia Morales, Government Sales Administrator, “but Covid heightened a lot of these aspects that are really unique.” She continued, “The dynamic nature of Spartan’s evolution has propelled all of our employees to explore innovative skills, advance their knowledge, and pursue new opportunities.”
“It’s about being a team player,” said Susan Berlin, Executive Assistant, member of the Covid-19 testing team, and self-proclaimed ‘wearer of many hats.’ “I enjoy a challenge,” Berlin adds, “That’s really where I grow, personally and professionally.” And she’s given herself no shortage of challenges to face, taking on many careers including – but not limited to – paralegal, certified nursing assistant, and mother. “If there’s something you want, you have to ask for it,” says Berlin, “you can’t be afraid.”
Pabon said she loved what she was doing professionally, but was drawn to Spartan’s Mission and core values, saying that their universal application resonated with her. “Each one of Spartan’s codes of conduct can be applied personally and professionally. When applied into action, you are not only a better professional, you are a better human,” says Pabon.
Sophia Morales with her mother Beth Shea
“This Spartan culture has brought up so many amazing women.” – Sophia Morales
Clearly, Spartans are following their code. “The people that I’m around and the support that I get from them, the unconditional caring, and understanding that they’ve given me has really given me the strength to understand my place here and grow from it,” says Gabrielle de la O, a Spartan customer service representative. “The people around you can affect your attitude towards the entire scenario that you’re in,” adds de la O.
“Being in a positive workplace culture improves teamwork, raises morale, increases productivity and efficiency,” says Tonyelle Woody, a Spartan project manager who oversees several Covid-19 testing and vaccine programs around the country, “At Spartan, the leadership and the strategic organizational directions and management influence the workplace culture to a huge extent.”
Studies indicate that a majority of women in the MedTech industry report experiencing a non-inclusive culture in which they feel the opportunity to advance is uneven.2 The only way to create an environment in which everyone can feel they have equal access to growth is to create a culture in which the contribution of every member is vital. “I am not alone. I am surrounded by Spartans each holding their shield protecting each other, protecting the team. When we come together, as we form that phalanx, each doing our part to hold our shield, we are unstoppable,” says Morales.
Inequity and lack of representation in any field is a disservice to the rest of its members, because it prevents young people – our future leaders – from being able to have the role model that they deserve. As Pabon, a Latin woman, tells it, “It would have helped me when I was younger if I had met someone like me.”
Pabon feels incredibly grateful to have had the role model of her mother, a nurse and administrative official, to look up to, but recognized a distinct lack of diversity in the media. “When you’re young, it’s great to have your family, but it’s important to see people like you on television and in movies.” Representation matters, and here, at the intersection of gender and ethnicity does it matter especially.
Studies have confirmed repeatedly that having a mentor is an excellent indicator of potential future success, but the lack of female representation means that for some, finding the right mentor can be particularly challenging.2,3
Gabrielle De La O
Tonyelle Woody with her family
“This group of women we have here at Spartan absolutely does their best every single day, to prop each other up, and to continue this cycle of success that we’ve been having as a company. And it really relates back to our corporate philosophy of that person to your left and that person to your right are truly depending on you every single day,” says Morales. “A rising tide raises all ships, and we all succeed together at the end of the day,” Morales continues, “This Spartan culture has brought up so many amazing women, and I’m so excited to see where we go in the future.”
When asked what advice our Spartan women would give to future females in the MedTech industry, one response came back a lot: be fearless, especially when it comes to asking. “Don’t be afraid of rejection, because something else will come along,” says Berlin, “If there is something you want to do, another direction you want to go in, ask for it.”
In the words of Woody, also a former Army officer and two-time Iraq veteran, “Something that motivates me and inspires me about us women is that there’s nothing a man can do that we can’t. Anything a man can do a woman can do, and she can probably do it ten times better.”