European Union of Private Hospitals

Interview with Alice de Maximy, founder of Femmes de santé & hkind

Why did you set up the Femmes de santé collective?

I’m a health communicator, and my natural curiosity and international experience have led me to realise that women who take the initiative generally don’t put themselves forward enough, and that we don’t put them forward either. Deep-rooted structural dysfunctions often prevent women from pursuing careers and rising to prominence. The health sector is no exception, quite the contrary, which is why the Women in Health Collective was set up.

It brings together more than 2,600 women working in the health sector, each of whom makes a positive contribution and advances the cause of women. The collective is a forum, but also a place where they can get involved, share solutions and pass on information. There is a need to raise awareness on a wide range of subjects: gender equality, leadership, women’s health, environmental health, etc.

The collective synergy of Femme de Santé is productive. What have you achieved?

Femmes de santé quickly made me realise that representation was not enough, and that we needed to go much further to make things happen.

So I set up the certified training organisation Hhind (humankind, training and consultancy, health, management, equality). The aim of our work with companies and healthcare establishments is to put health, fairness, equality and enlightened management at the heart of HR and CSR. The women in the network are the trainers. We helped the Hôpital Paris Saclay (14,000 employees) draw up their equality plan, which will serve as a pilot project for other AP-HP establishments. We are very proud of this, in that we carried out real data analysis and fieldwork.

In addition, the collective’s collaborative and thought-provoking activities are very dynamic and have led to the setting up of the Etats Généraux, and the drafting of summary documents on women’s professional position, equality, women’s health and soon on environmental health. Our work has also been included in the Interministerial Plan for Equality between Women and Men 2023-2027.

And every year, we publish our “revelations”, a video highlighting exemplary women from the world of health, to mark International Women’s Day, or again this year at SantExpo, in the presence of several ministers*.

What are the biggest obstacles facing women in their professional careers?

The big issue is leadership, which, when you’re a woman, means navigating a system traditionally designed and run by men. A woman is first seen as a woman before being seen as a professional. Secondly, our culture and history mean that girls naturally take a back seat and are more serious… We have to work and manage with all this in mind.

Our training courses are there to move things forward in a pragmatic way, to train hospital equality officers, to help combat gender-based violence, to make it easier for people to speak out, to enable HR to play their role as mediator in certain situations…

Equality is a statutory obligation in companies, and having a sexual harassment prevention plan is a legal requirement. But it’s not very old; too few organisations are taking action.

How do you deal with gender-based and sexual violence in healthcare establishments?

We’re working on this with HR through a highly successful training course on moral and sexual harassment, sexist remarks and how to identify and deal with them. This training enables us to study the issue of gender bias and to understand the psychological mechanics of a sexist remark and the difference with harassment. In some cases, in a professional context, zero tolerance is required, and you need to be aware of this. The training is given by a sex therapist and provides the right tools for all employees who take the course, whether they work in care or not.

* Isabelle Rome, Minister attached to the Prime Minister, responsible for Equality between Women and Men, Diversity and Equal Opportunities, Agnès Firmin Le Bodo, Minister attached to the Minister for Health and Prevention, responsible for Territorial Organisation and Health Professions and Stanislas Guerini, Minister for Transformation and the Civil Service.