Pickers values shaped from the start: International Women’s Day

From inception, Picker has not shied away from women leadership. The commitment to putting people at the heart of care started from the personal experience of our US founders, Jean and Harvey Picker, who thought that the current healthcare system lacked a humane approach, which they believed was crucial to delivering care.

Jean, the first-ever recipient of the Eleanor Roosevelt Leadership Award for her commitment to international cooperation, was a journalist for Life magazine and a US ambassador to the United Nations. Whilst receiving treatment for a long-term condition, she found that the USA’s healthcare system was technologically and scientifically advanced, but the care was not sensitive to individual needs and preferences. In 1986, Jean and Harvey founded the Picker Institute, pioneering person centred care and the importance of listening to the experiences of patients, service users, and staff.

For International Women’s Day, we speak to our Chief Research Officer Jenny King, who describes how the mission of Picker are reflected in its leadership and organisation today…

“When I first joined as Project Manager, I learned how we were originally formed and funded, and I was impressed by our founders who, to the very end, championed for people and their right to safe, equitable, and humane experiences of healthcare. Today, I am Picker’s Chief Research Officer and have just celebrated my fifteen-year ‘Pickerversary’. I have not experienced any career barriers due to being a woman. Perhaps that is because of the representation of women as leaders that I’ve been exposed to or a testament to the inclusive culture that Picker works to create. I’ve had the privilege of working with Angela Coulter, both in her first role as Picker CEO and now as our Chair of the Board of Trustees, and Professor Aileen Clarke, the chair of our board between 2019 and 2022. As advocates for person centred care, Angela and Aileen’s direction, insight, and collaboration have pushed Picker to be the best version of itself and to achieve maximum impact.

I know, however, that many women haven’t experienced such women representation or leadership, whose influence has been woven into the fabric of organisations from the beginning. Whether it’s in healthcare or as an employer, the values of care, trust, and support as first laid out by Jean and Harvey are important to our board of trustees and executive team. We work hard to ensure our team experiences an equitable working environment and that Picker is an inclusive, enjoyable workplace.

Our equality, diversity and inclusion statement details our commitment and action to create an inclusive work environment whilst highlighting how the person centred care research and evaluations we carry out are designed to support involvement and participation from all.

It’s the people that make workplaces, and for me, that makes Picker one of the best. It is lovely to work alongside talented and friendly people who collaborate daily to improve the way we work and the work we do to benefit our beneficiaries. The nature of our work means we are responsible for looking after the feedback from thousands of individual healthcare experiences each year. Whether it is the views we collect via national surveys or that we hear through qualitative research, I know that our team do their best to ensure those voices, whoever they are from, are listened to and used for service improvement.

The foundations of Picker allow us to recognise that meaningful growth and improvement happens when we listen and learn from people’s experiences.”

International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. It also serves to call attention to and act against the issues and challenges women still face today.

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