Lisa Davis is chief information officer at Blue Shield of California. She is responsible for leading the company’s ongoing efforts to modernize with new technologies to better serve its more than 4 million members. Davis joined in February from Intel where she was a vice president and general manager. She is the recipient of multiple honors including the Top 100 Social CIO award, CIO 100 Award from CIO Magazine, and Digital Edge 25 Award for innovative use of technology to deliver business value.
Why health care?
Blue Shield of California’s mission and the opportunity to lead technology transformation was a perfect match for me. I was inspired by our vision to transform health care, the role and impact I could bring to the team.
I’ve had the opportunity to work in numerous sectors across my technology career —government, academia, high tech. Out of all the industries where technology plays a crucial role, health care is definitely one of the most important. Technological developments in health care have saved countless patients and the industry is still in its early phases of adoption of digital technologies and the use of data and advanced analytics, as well as artificial iIntelligence.
Who are women that inspire you?
As women, we play so many different roles — mother, spouse, daughter, professional, etc. I am inspired by the women I meet each and every day that continue to persevere in their professional careers despite the odds and the obstacles. It takes grit and passion! Some women that stand out for me currently are Malala Yousifazi, Michelle Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Condoleezza Rice, as well as others who have paved the way for us, like Sandra Day O’Connor and Grace Hopper.
How can we support the next generation of women leaders?
I encourage women to be bold and proactively manage their careers; to hone your craft and don’t wait to be seen; seek opportunities to present yourself. It’s important for young women to have strong female role models in their careers. And it’s up to us who have reached the highest levels of our companies, to reach back and pull others forward. It requires mentorship, sponsorship, company diversity and inclusion initiatives and goals, and ultimately support from both women and men. Men must be included in the conversation.
To ultimately increase the numbers of women in C-level positions, it starts with building up our young girls by encouraging them to find and use their voice versus girls being viewed as “bossy.” I consider being “bossy” or “loud” as the building blocks to being a great leader and to ultimately persevering in today’s workforce. Data shows us that we lose our girls in the tech field beginning in middle school – when peer pressure is very high. Being smart may not be considered cool, so girls opt not to take the more difficult math or science classes and therefore are not competitive or prepared for STEM majors (a curriculum based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines—Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). We need to help break that cycle!
What challenges do we still need to overcome to achieve equality?
We have made considerable progress but there is much more work to do! We still have a perception gap—just 41 percent of men believe men and women experience unequal roles in the workplace, compared with almost 63 percent of women who view that to be the case. These gaps in perception slow systemic change needed in our workplaces. The World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report for 2020 stated gender parity will take 99.5 more years. The time for change is now – for women and minorities. I’m so proud to work for Blue Shield of California which prioritizes diversity and inclusion and has achieved a zero-pay ratio gap between men, women and minorities—another perfect match.
How has the Covid-19 outbreak changed/challenged the way you lead?
This crisis has changed me as a leader in numerous ways. I’ve always been a type A personality. In my previous job, I was traveling extensively and globally. I led an extremely busy, professional life. This pandemic has allowed me to slow down and to appreciate what I have right in front of me. I try to wake up every morning with gratitude. I’m grateful that my family is healthy, that I work for a company aligned with my values, and that I have an amazing team and a group of partners I work with every day.
I’m most grateful that I see my teenagers more than ever. My son is home from college and my oldest daughter moved back in with us during the quarantine. This time as a family has been precious.
This crisis has also taught me that this is a time to accelerate new beginnings, especially things that weren't working so well for me in the past. It’s given me time to reflect, learn, listen, and ultimately make me a better leader.