Florida Blue VP talks female leadership success

Florida's largest health insurer can count Vice President of Product Elana Schrader, M.D., among the growing ranks of women who have leading roles at health plans, according to Florida Blue Radio.

That list also includes Blue Cross Blue Shield and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, both of which have female board chairs, and WellPoint, where six women hold vice president positions, FierceHealthPayer previously reported. Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey also has put great focus on programs and policies that help women rise through the leadership ranks.

At Florida Blue, Schrader's approachability and vulnerability, both considered traditionally "feminine characteristics," contributed to her success at the Florida insurer, she said in an interview with Florida Blue Radio. Armed with those traits, Schrader was willing to draw on the expertise of her team as well as mentors and leverage collaboration.

"[I]t's actually a beautiful, liberating place to be, confident enough to be vulnerable and give myself over to people who know more and who can do the job better," she said during the interview.

In addition to diverse leadership, Schrader cited the importance of having a diverse workforce that encompasses various backgrounds, skills and assets, and perspectives.

Insurers that maintain a diverse workforce can ensure their members have good experiences and high satisfaction with interactions, FierceHealthPayer previously reported. They need to recognize the business case for a diverse workforce: Companies must look and act like their customers and members, which is even more critical now that so many new members have entered the insurance system, including people from low-income, Hispanic and previously uninsured populations.

Schrader also attributed her clinical background with finding success as a leader on the payer side, Florida Blue Radio noted. "[I]f you're in a business and you're diagnosing a problem and you have to come up with a solution, having had the training in doing that day in and day out is unbelievably helpful," she told the news outlet.

To learn more:
- here's the Florida Blue Radio piece