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Global Wellness Institute’s Women in Leadership Initiative Reveals Women in Wellness Workplace Trends


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The Global Wellness Institute’s Women in Leadership Initiative recently surveyed nearly 250 women in leadership positions in the wellness space about their experiences over the course of their careers, their goals, their challenges and successes, their stress relief strategies and more. 

The survey results were evaluated by the members of the group, and the following trends were revealed:

Female Leaders Lead with Longevity

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A whopping 52% of respondents say they have been at their company between 15 and 29 years. This signals that women in leadership positions are loyal, dedicated, and willing to go the long haul to ensure success for their organization. It also points to wellness as a compelling industry for women looking for a long-term career.

Female Leaders Value Leadership with Heart

Female leaders are drawn to and inspired by heart-based leadership. The survey revealed that the most important qualities for a leader are integrity, trustworthiness, vision, inspiration, and motivation. Profit and Loss Statement prowess, arguably a skill that can be learned or outsourced, was given the least importance. 

Lack of Support by Other Women can be a Challenge

Because there are fewer leadership positions for women, there is fierce competition to snag those roles or hang on to them. One survey question shows that “lack of support by other women” was one reason for not advancing. 

Ageism is an Issue

Tangentially, one of the most common challenges noted on the survey was age discrimination. Many female wellness leaders say they have encountered age discrimination as they grow and evolve in their careers. Companies looking for established talent should look to older women with experience. Along with industry knowledge and life experience, female leaders tend to be loyal, long-lasting employees, which is a valuable trait amid the hospitality industry’s current staffing shortage.

Women Wellness Leaders Embrace Healthy Stress Relief Strategies (for the most part)

Most survey recipients use healthy strategies for stress relief, with being outdoors, fitness, connecting with friends, eating healthy, sleep, breathing techniques, meditation, and spa-going topping the list. Though the numbers are relatively low, some women surveyed use cannabis and psychedelics to manage their stress, which aligns with the growing popularity of both in wellness and stress relief. However, a large number of women surveyed (33%) manage stress with alcohol, which could point to a need for a discussion of the topic and solutions for managing alcohol consumption. 

Women Leaders Desire and Need Financial Wellness Collaboration, Support, and Education

Most women surveyed do not discuss compensation with their peers, which can have an impact on a woman’s ability to achieve a fair salary. Additionally, financial wellness and financial education are both needed and wanted by female wellness leaders. For women who wanted to start a business but didn’t, funding/savings was the top reason. This again points to the importance of financial wellness practices to help support the personal and professional growth of female leaders.

Female Leaders are Seeking Mentorship

Mentorship is something that female leaders appear to be seeking—the majority of respondents said they do not have a mentor, and of those women, most of them would like one. The category most women were seeking guidance was finance and money management, further highlighting the importance of financial wellness.

“The results of the survey are eye-opening, surprising, frustrating, and inspiring,” says committee chair, Julie Keller Callaghan. “We were thrilled to discover the longevity, empathetic leadership, and positive stress-management skills demonstrated by female wellness leaders, among other great info. However, the fact that ageism and lack of support by other women continue to plague our industry is disappointing. We are all galvanized to support other women, to overcome these challenges and to create opportunities to help each other thrive. We are excited about rolling out initiatives designed to do just that.”

As a first step to create awareness of the Initiative and inspire other women leaders, the group has created an “I’m a Boss” video campaign, which features members of the Initiative in settings where they thrive. The goal is to create a social media movement where other women in wellness create “I’m a Boss” videos and use the #ImABoss hashtag to showcase the powerful, interesting, and unique women who make up the wellness community. 

The members of the GWI Initiative recorded this #ImABoss video as part of their campaign to highlight powerful women in wellness leadership.

Next up, the Women in Leadership Initiative will continue to offer links to resources that support women. They will also be rolling out a mentorship matching program in which women seeking mentorship will be matched with appropriate life coaches and experts who can guide them in their personal and professional journeys.

The GWI Women in Leadership Initiative members include chair Julie Keller Callaghan, co-founder of Well Defined; vice chair Sara Jones, managing director of Spa & Wellness MexiCaribe; Joanne Berry, founder of the Wellness Education HubDr. Rekha Chaudhari, the global wellness ambassador for India; Darlene Fiske, owner of The Fiske Group and co-founder of Swell Public Relations; Sara Hirsh Bordo, founder and CEO of Women Rising; Liz Lehman, CEO, Aluminate Life; Tara LoCastro, principal of LifeSync; Francie Rawlings, digital strategy & innovation head for SCS Partners; Jessica Timberlake, public relations manager for Eminence Organic Skin Care; and Kenzie Vath, director of wellness & sustainability for Pacific Hospitality Group.

About The Author

Julie is the co-founder of Well Defined and a longtime influencer and advocate in the wellness world. Along with her work at Well Defined, she is an executive recruiter and marketing specialist for Hutchinson Consulting. She is also a consultant and content strategist for numerous wellness brands. She is the former editor-in-chief and publisher of American Spa and was named a 2019 Folio Top Woman in Media in the Industry Trailblazers category and a 2018 winner of ISPA’s Innovate Award. She is also a seasoned journalist, specializing in spa, travel, health, fitness, wellness, sustainability, and beauty. She has been published in Departures,, E! Online,, Insider’s Guide to Spas, Luxury Travel Advisor, Marin Magazine, Ocean Home, Smart Meetings, Spa Asia, and Travel Agent.