Lorraine Smyth MSc, e-Enabler, Scheduled Care Transformation Office of the National Director – Change and Innovation at HSE Ireland
Please tell us a little about yourself and your role within change and innovation at HSE Ireland?
I am 21 years in Healthcare in the HSE. I have worked in Primary Care, Acute Hospitals and most recently in Corporate HSE, particularly in Digital Transformation and Innovation.
I am the co-founder of the Digital Academy and the Digital Transformation Team in the HSE and I have lead on various digital education projects.
I have experience rolling out national digital projects and I was the Covid Laboratories Logistics Lead in the HSE during the Covid Pandemic. I am the “Our Public Service” DPER rep for innovation in the HSE. Working on e-referrals and e-enablers at present.
What does diversity, equity and inclusion mean to you and why is it so important?
Because I work in innovation I can see that a more inclusive team leads to better design thinking. We all come from different experiences in life and judge ideas and solutions based on our personal experiences so a more diversified work force brings ideas from different aspects to the table.
In essence if our workforce are a microcosm of society Women should be 50% of a management force as they are representative of 50% of the population. We have the LGBTQI+ community and new comers to our island from other countries they need a voice also.
What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
Men (Only Joking). Traditionally Women were not even allowed in the workforce once married. This Marriage ban was only lifted in 1977 and we have been playing catch up ever since.
We need to have a more equal society. We needed to put a quotas system in place to get more Female representatives in place in the Dail, this is at 30% at present with plans to go to 40%. But our local government the county councils in Ireland have no quota with a very poor showing for Women nationally.
The Citizens assembly has recommended quotas for Women, we have 1 year to push for this. But we have to think in a different way for the workforce.
One of my former bosses said to me when he is interviewing and he see a male in his late 20s and a Female, he thinks he will lose the female to maternity leave so he goes with the male every time (totally sexist but his truth).
I would like to see a system like in Sweden where the male or female can take the maternity leave or they can split it. This way when a female or male sits at interview, that bias is gone.
How can women support other women in their organisations?
- Have the important calls between 10am – 4pm so it does not interrupt child dropping/collecting
- Approve education courses and mentor and advise/support
- Make sure they are listened to on calls
- Represented on panel discussions and debates at the conferences
- When you are on a conference or a board and there is no Female representation, CALL IT OUT!!!
What leadership skills do you use most often in your role?
Relationship building. (Very important not always the National Director you need to speak to but her PA, as they are the people that can help you if you treat them with respect).
Very important when someone reaches out to you, you acknowledge it.
Negotiation. A skill I mastered in my years in Procurement, I have a reputation for not giving up and seeing alternatives.
Innovation and Creativity. It is my love, change and innovation progressing our Health Service using technology and innovative thinking.
Any final thoughts?
Great to see so many Femtech products coming on line, much needed.
Delighted to get funding off DPER for the Lymphoedema App and Digital Media Platform.