The practice of change: AMN Healthcare
We have met with senior management and board members of AMN Healthcare and are very encouraged by their recognition of the problem of pay disparity in US healthcare and their passion to address it. Indeed, given its standing in the recruitment industry, AMN recognises its ability to take a leadership position on this agenda by refining their own practices but also raising the agenda with their industry peers.
The company has already been proactive in drawing attention to this issue. Last year, Merritt Hawkins, a subsidiary of AMN, conducted research on the scale of pay inequality in the state of Maryland. It found that on average female physicians earned about 50% less than their male peers. Even when controlled for number of hours worked female physicians still earned 37% less than their male counterparts.
AMN, which is led by chief executive Susan Salka, has made a concerted effort to focus on its own operations in recent years. For example, it has undertaken its own pay audit of directly-employed staff. That the company is now willing to turn its attention to driving change outside its four walls is to be applauded.
Another focus of our engagement with AMN is around its ability to scale up its existing volunteering efforts to support healthcare training in lower- and middle-income countries. As more nurses and physicians seek greater flexibility, the number of applicants for locum roles has increased in recent years. It is therefore no surprise that AMN’s annual medical and community development event in Guatemala, with HELPS International, is oversubscribed.
Since initiating efforts and underwriting over $200,000, AMN clinical and community volunteers have created temporary acute care hospitals and taken part in more than 300 surgeries and conducted over 3,000 patient visits. Given the breadth of connections that staffing companies such as AMN have, we believe that there is an opportunity to have a more lasting impact by exploring a programmatic partnership. For example, the company’s current corporate responsibility initiatives could be expanded and used as a basis for training and developing the health workforce in lower- and middle-income countries, thereby leaving a sustainable legacy while also broadening the experiences and skill-set of those nurses returning to work in the US.
AMN has demonstrated a willingness to continue our dialogue on these issues. Indeed, it has consistently been very receptive and responsive to our engagements on a range of matters in the past, in particular around corporate governance, as evidenced by recent changes to their proxy access policy, management compensation and board diversity.
Through our ongoing engagements, we believe that AMN will play an integral role in tackling the gender pay gap in US healthcare and look forward to continuing to work with them to bring about this necessary change.
1 “Women were the majority of US medical school applicants in 2018," published by the Association of American Medical Colleges on 4 December 2018.
2,3 “Female doctors make $105,000 less than male peers, review finds," published by Bloomberg on 13 March 2018.
4 Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics published in 2016.
The views and opinions contained herein are those of Will Pomroy, Lead Engager of the Hermes SDG Engagement Equity Fund, and may not necessarily represent views expressed or reflected in other Hermes communications, strategies or products. This commentary is published solely for informational purposes and is not to be construed as a solicitation or an offer to buy or sell any securities or related financial instruments.