Our first survey revealed that nearly half of women don’t make time to focus on their health. They’re busy overseeing their family’s healthcare, they don’t feel like they can delegate, and they experience lot of stress and anxiety a result. Then we spoke to women who work in PR and marketing about how they approach health and self-care. Not only are these women stressed, but most aren’t taking advantage of important resources their companies offer, like wellness programs and behavioral health benefits. Both surveys revealed that women need encouragement when it comes to carving out time for their health, whether it means leaving the office to spend time with their family or attending a workout class. Taking time to recharge has positive effects on our health. Sometimes we just need to give ourselves permission to let the little things wait.
I had the pleasure to interview Wendy Lund the CEO of GCI Health
Thank you so much for joining us! What is your “backstory” about what brought you to this specific career path?
A: My story ties back to my parents. My father was successful in business and my mother was a therapist, so combining business with caring for people has always felt very natural to me.
Then there were my graduate and undergraduate degrees, which focused on history and women’s studies, and really drove my love for stories. Since then, I’ve focused my entire career on improving healthcare for patients and their loved ones through communications and marketing.
While being Vice President of Marketing for Planned Parenthood was certainly one of the high points of my career, life on the agency side has been so inspirational and exciting. Today my passion is ignited by all the innovation happening in the healthcare industry — the “first-in-class” therapies and technologies being brought to market to make life infinitely better for patients and consumers around the world.
As a female CEO, what challenges (if any) do you face as a woman in this position? How have you grown based from your professional experiences?
A: While it can be more difficult to be a woman, women today have more opportunities than ever before — and I’m incredibly proud of the role my friends and colleagues have played in making that happen. Every position has its challenges, and the key to overcoming them is not to let them overtake you. I always encourage women to push forward and not let obstacles get in the way. Think through how to take on each challenge and then do it with gusto.
Can you tell our readers about how the HealthiHer movement came to fruition?
A: We conducted extensive research to understand how women today are approaching their health. We learned that the majority identify as the chief health decision-makers in their families. They like to be in control and are incredibly resourceful and self-reliant — yet all that responsibility can be overwhelming. Most of the women we spoke to agreed that no matter how hard they try, they never seem to have enough time to do all the things they need to do. Finally, and perhaps most significantly, healthcare today is becoming more complex than ever. As the first generation of true healthcare consumers, women are certainly in the thick of it.
From a health and wellness perspective, this segment deserves a lot more attention. That is what we set out to do with HealthiHer.
Can you tell our readers some information regarding the latest HealthiHer survey findings?
A: Our first survey revealed that nearly half of women don’t make time to focus on their health. They’re busy overseeing their family’s healthcare, they don’t feel like they can delegate, and they experience lot of stress and anxiety a result. Then we spoke to women who work in PR and marketing about how they approach health and self-care. Not only are these women stressed, but most aren’t taking advantage of important resources their companies offer, like wellness programs and behavioral health benefits.
Both surveys revealed that women need encouragement when it comes to carving out time for their health, whether it means leaving the office to spend time with their family or attending a workout class. Taking time to recharge has positive effects on our health. Sometimes we just need to give ourselves permission to let the little things wait.
What was most shocking to you based from the results of the survey?
A: In many ways, the survey confirmed what we thought, but what really was surprising was that women were not as interested in reproductive health and more interested in how to improve their attention to day-to-day health. We also dug deeper and looked at women who had been diagnosed with health conditions such as cancer, diabetes and depression and found that whether diagnosed with a condition or not, the majority of women are less likely to make time for themselves to focus on their health. This further inspired us to want to help activate and inspire women to better prioritize their own self-care. With serious conditions like heart disease and diabetes on the rise, it’s critical that women do what’s necessary to ensure we can be here for our families.
Was there a story behind why you decided to launch this initiative?
A: Yes, it was serendipity! One day I was sitting in Starbucks and was ruminating issues around menopause and how there was so little out there to educate women 45+. At that moment, my good friend Beth Battaglino, who happens to be the CEO of HealthyWomen, came into that neighborhood Starbucks, and I emoted to her all the things that were lacking and she told me that the time was perfect to partner and get out more broadly. And she also convinced me that women across many age groups needed this info, so we extended the demographic of our campaign.
Based from your personal and professional experiences, what should a) individuals b) society, and c) the government do to better support women in the workforce?
A: A recent article in our industry press included feedback from senior women about the barriers women in PR face — with all of them citing confidence, a lack of flexibility and difficulty balancing family and career. There are so many talented women out there yearning for new responsibilities and opportunities to grow their careers, but they don’t always know how to ask. I believe companies should do more to help women envision what is possible and provide “guideposts” to show them what their career path could look like. Leaders, men and women, can create stronger companies and grow talent by creating these opportunities.
What tips/advice do you have for women to promote wellbeing?
A: Women need to know that taking small steps now can help them take better care of themselves and their families in the future. We offer great support and content on our Facebook community page: https://www.facebook.com/BeHealthiHER/. Some of the tips we promote to help address self-care as part of HealthiHer include:
- Prioritize your well-being; know when the other stuff can wait
- Take advantage of your employee benefits
- Give yourself permission to say no
- Find a healthcare professional that works for you, on your terms
- Say yes to help! This is especially important for caregivers who try to do it all
You recently attended the BlogHer conference in Los Angeles. What advice presented at the conference impacted you the most?
A: Speaking with so many female influencers working to raise awareness of women’s health reinforced the need for a program like HealthiHer. I was shocked by how many women attending the event — women whose main focus and passion is encouraging other women to be healthy — admitted that their own health was at the bottom of their to-do list.
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be an advocate for women and mothers working in their field of communications and public relations?
A: Reading is brain food! I encourage women to soak up as much knowledge as possible, even if they just spend a few minutes reading each day. It’s also a great stress reliever. I love mixing it up, reading about business and marketing along with plain old best-selling fiction😊!