Life at ZS

Bridging the gender divide: ZS invests in women’s health

By Kailah Peters

Feb. 27, 2024 | Article | 4-minute read

Bridging the gender divide: ZS invests in women’s health

At ZS, we believe health equity is a fundamental human right. Through cross-sector partnerships, ZS fights to address gaps in care driven by social inequities—like the growing gender disparity in healthcare worldwide. Through our partnerships with clients and nonprofits—and our 40 years of expertise—ZSers like Sharon Suchotliff, associate principal in New York, can drive positive change and improve health outcomes for all.

Where passion changes lives

Sharon joined ZS in the pursuit of using her skills in customer experience to create a better world.

“Coming from outside of healthcare, where we obsessed over the customer experience, I was surprised by how little was focused on the patient experience,” Sharon recalls. “I saw an opportunity to use my skills to help improve the experience of healthcare in a way that creates impact for people and businesses.”


This drive for positive change led Sharon to connect with Women@ZS, one of our many employee-led inclusion and diversity groups. Through this network, Sharon was able to meet women around the globe, participate in conversations about gender diversity and partner with nonprofits including Working for Women (W4W) and the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA).


“It was inspiring to hear the members of Women@ZS talk with authority and expertise on topics that are very near and dear to my heart,” Sharon says. “It’s important to have these difficult conversations, on everything from period poverty to the lack of women in clinical trials. But it’s not enough to just talk about it. We wanted to find a way to bring women across the industry into the conversation and drive change outside the walls of ZS.”

This mission fits well within ZS’s broader commitment to delivering healthy, fair and sustainable outcomes by integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) priorities into our work, partnerships and operations. As one of our ESG priorities, ZS is dedicated to improving health equity for all, working toward universal healthcare language, diversifying clinical trials and mitigating the impact of social drivers of health.


ZS’s recently launched Women’s Health Expertise Hub partners with ZS clients to advance solutions specifically for women and gender expansive individuals. The hub works to develop innovative solutions that can be applied across the industry to lead global impact on women’s health. The hub’s co-founder, Ailie Reasons, manager in Evanston, says “Much of the conversation about women’s health is currently limited to the reproductive system. There is a tremendous need for us to expand beyond that and elevate all issues facing women’s health so we can improve health outcomes for women around the world.”


In partnership with co-founder Barrett Pignone, manager in Washington, D.C., the Women’s Health Expertise Hub raises awareness of and works toward solving health disparities faced by women. The team collaborates with clients not only on reproductive health but on conditions not typically thought of as women’s health, yet affect women disproportionately or in different ways than men.

Over the course of our five-year partnership with W4W, ZS has helped expand a program that teaches professional negotiation skills to women; partnered to address the unique challenges that immigrant women and women of color face in the workplace; provided funding to help women complete necessary professional certificates to launch fulfilling careers; and helped develop and publish gender wealth data visualizations that highlight inequities. This work has helped hundreds of women across America elevate themselves in the workplace and bolstered ZS’s own continual efforts for gender equity.


One of those efforts is our panel discussion series, Health Equity is Women’s Equity. The series mirrors the goals of ZS’s Women’s Health Expertise hub, diving into conditions—like mental health and heart disease—that are not always thought about as women’s health yet affect women disproportionately and differently than men. In Health Equity is Women’s Equity, ZSers including Sharon, Ailie and Barrett connect with industry leaders to tackle the complex problems related to improving gender-diverse care.


In the first panel discussion, moderated by Sharon, leaders from Woebot Health, Otsuka Pharmaceutical Companies and the Black Women’s Mental Health Institute came together to talk about their passion for expanding awareness of women’s mental health issues across the industry. The panelists discussed everything from the history of women’s mental health, the effects of social determinates in access and treatment, and methods to improve care.


A panel participant expressed that the discussion shed light on the significant disparities women encounter when seeking mental health resources. They now have heightened awareness of these issues and are committed to being mindful of them moving forward.


Sharon says, “For me, the panel highlighted just how important it is to recognize the differences that lead to sub-par experiences for women, to acknowledge the long history and lack of investment that got us here and to ensure that we push forward as an industry to prioritize women’s health.”


ZS hopes these conversations lead to unified efforts to mitigate gender disparity in health outcomes. We thank ZSers like Sharon, Ailie and Barrett whose passion, expertise and partnerships with healthcare industry leaders and nonprofits help advance women’s health globally.


To stay informed on our work improving women’s health outcomes for all, follow us on social media.

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