Women Owned Businesses: More Than a Checkbox

As a newly certified WBE, focusing on quality rather than gender is what DataFile CEO Janine Akers wants.

Some may see “women/minority owned business” as a box to be checked to meet RFP requirements and perhaps as a chance to feel good about promoting diversity in the market place. Janine Akers proves there’s much more to it than that. DFT’s strong female leadership demonstrates how a Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) can drive solutions and deliver a wealth of benefits to clients in the healthcare industry and beyond.

When Janine Akers bought DataFile Technologies in 2005, her goal was to provide superior quality medical data services to health care professionals. To Janine, quality is gender agnostic, and results come to those who earn them. She modeled hard work, diligence and tenacity for all members of her team from day one – though to say success came easy for Janine would be a gross misrepresentation of the early days.

In the beginning, the task of growing the business was daunting. Janine and her predominantly female team trekked to healthcare industry tradeshows and doctor’s offices to cast the vision for a new way to handle medical records requests electronically. Janine was (and still is) a paradigm disrupter. She was one of the first to innovate a virtual solution for the release of information requests that were piling up in medical practices across the nation. These were the days when major changes in HIPAA privacy standards added layer upon layer of complexity to the recording, filing, retrieval, and dissemination of medical records and associated data.

During those challenging early days of DataFile Technologies, Janine and her team proved they had the grit to grow a business in a male-dominated entrepreneurial landscape. Their goal was to offer smart, efficient health information management (HIM) solutions to medical practices and health systems, while helping their clients mitigate HIPAA liability and better serve their patients. In surviving, DataFile became resilient. They formulated their three-prong strategy, which still stands to this day:

* Identify gaps in their own skill sets and fill them.

* Recognize threats and avoid them.

* Own their shortcomings and fix them.

Fast-forward more than a decade, and DFT is comprised overwhelmingly of female staff and is still striving for constant improvement. In fact, three out of five of the C-suite chairs are occupied by women. Janine wouldn’t presume to place women above men in business, but she would emphatically state that women and men, side by side, can accomplish more together through collaboration than they can apart in competition.

“There are so many benefits and opportunities that come from a different viewpoint,” Janine commented. “In healthcare IT and HIM, we can provide a healthy balance of empathy for the needs of patients along with the medical practice’s need for structure and accountability.”

DataFile Technologies recently achieved official WBE certification from the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council. This is a distinction recognized and respected by hundreds of corporations and numerous federal, state and local government agencies. The oft cited benefits to working with WBEs include the ability to gain a different perspective and the chance to innovate new solutions to old problems. While there are also macro-economic benefits like job creation that come through women owned businesses, the biggest win lies closer to home: A client who chooses an enterprise certified by the WBENC gets a diligent solution provider who offers a diverse approach and who ultimately brings immediate value to a client’s business.

While the WBE certification is an honor for DataFile, Janine and her team are continuing with business as usual. In fact, she doesn’t want to be known as a female CEO – but instead as a kind, funny, smart and fair CEO. Either way, she acknowledges that her worldview and people skills have enabled her to grow and lead a successful company that has carved out a niche in the hyper-competitive healthcare IT and HIM space.

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