The Polycarbonate Ceiling – Women and the Optical industry

We often hear “the future is female” when people speak about the eye care industry. For the past decade at least 70% of optometry students are women. Eventually they will be the majority of practicing ODs. Women comprise 74% of working opticians.  If you look at the makeup of most optical staffs both in corporate and private settings you will find the same percentage or higher. Women are also more likely to make the decisions for their family of where to have an exam and shop for glasses. 

The only part of the industry where you often don’t see this level of representation is in decision making positions. Although there are exceptions,  many corporate opticals, including “doctor owned” private equity funded groups, have a majority of men in executive roles. 

In my career, I often noticed the same men being chosen by different opticals for these roles. It always reminded me of professional sports. Team coaches and managers would leave a team no matter what the record, and be hired by a different team.  From the most established companies to the disrupters I saw the same pattern

There seemed to be a glass ceiling, actually in the optical world more like a polycarbonate ceiling…much harder to shatter. 

This was before I heard of Bailey Nelson 

Bailey Nelson looks for people who embrace and embody their core values. Being tight knit, down to earth and focused on ways to constantly improve themselves and the company.  

It was the deciding factor that led them to offer me the Eyecare director position over more traditional male candidates. 

These values have created an exceptional environment for women to grow and rise to their highest potential. 

The Canadian Executive team has nine members. Six of them are women. We comprise all categories of the business. All of the regional managers in Canada are also women. 

From an Optometry standpoint, I’ve often heard statistics that women optometrists are less likely to take a sublease, that they are less entrepreneurial. They are more likely to want employment. This is not the case at Bailey Nelson. Seventy five percent of our Doctor partners are women. They range from veteran ODs to new grads. We love to collaborate with and support our doctors. We help everyone see their true potential. 

We bring joy to Eyecare by embracing the individuality of our people and never straying from our core values. This has opened up the field of candidates for positions throughout the company. It unexpectedly led to the leadership team’s demographic matching  the percentage of women in the optical/optometry field. 

If you are looking for a change or want to start your career with a company that shares your values. We would love to hear from you.

If you are an optometrist contact me

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