The pharmaceutical industry has long symbolised scientific progress and innovation, but it has also been a male bastion for far too long. Despite positive trends such as more women entering the industry, there's still a glaring gender gap in leadership positions. As we reflect on these disparities, we must recognize that empowering women in pharma is not just about equality; it's about driving innovation, improving patient care, and enhancing decision-making.
According to a McKinsey report, over half of new entrants to the global pharma industry in 2022 were women, a positive trend compared to many other industries. However, the appeal diminishes when we realise that nearly three-quarters of pharma C-suite members are men. This underrepresentation in leadership must change, not only for gender equality but also for the industry's betterment. Another McKinsey Global Institute report suggests that addressing gender disparities in a country like India could add up to $0.7 trillion to its GDP by 2025.
Let’s explore why fostering D&I is crucial for women in the pharmaceutical sector and how we can work towards this inclusive future.
Driving innovation and creativity: Diverse teams, including women with varied backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives, can lead to a richer pool of ideas focused on women's healthcare. In an industry where innovation is key, these diverse perspectives can challenge the status quo and lead to breakthroughs that directly benefit women, whether it's in the development of more effective treatments, the reduction of medicine costs, or the advancement of solutions for women-centric health conditions.
Capturing global diversity: Beyond the obvious benefits to women and their organisations, fair representation at the top of the pharma industry is important for another reason: the impact on the people being served. A more inclusive approach to clinical trials and patient-centric care will ensure that healthcare solutions are not one-size-fits-all but tailored to the specific needs of various demographic groups.
Improved decision-making: Research continuously proves that heterogeneous groups tend to be better at decision-making. In the pharma industry, there is no room for mistakes. Bringing various personal experiences, viewpoints, and perspectives to the table aids in identifying well-rounded decision-making processes.
Now the question remains, how can we create a more inclusive future for women in the pharma industry? Here are six key strategies to consider:
Committing at the very top: It starts at the top. Female leaders must make a genuine and unwavering commitment to women's empowerment within the pharmaceutical industry. They should set the tone for the organisation by demonstrating their dedication through actions and decisions, paving the way for a future where women not only have a seat at the table but also lead the way in shaping the industry's successful future.
Inclusive hiring: Review and update hiring practices to reduce biases. Implement blind recruitment techniques, create diverse interview panels, and establish clear diversity goals for recruitment.
Diverse leadership development: Invest in developing diverse talent for leadership roles. Mentorship programs, leadership training, sponsorships and progressive initiatives that walk the talk are essential in nurturing the talent pipeline and ensuring that women have a fair shot at top roles.
Inclusive culture: Promote an inclusive culture where every female employee feels valued and respected. Encourage open communication, offer diversity and inclusion training, and establish employee resource groups. Gender sensitization is important.
Data-driven approach: Use data to measure progress and identify areas that need improvement. It is critical to have a listening post, where gender issues can be reported and handled. Regularly assess diversity metrics, female employee feedback, and engagement levels.
Collaboration for change: Collaborate with external organisations and experts to bring fresh perspectives and best practices into your organisation. Networking and partnerships can help create a supportive ecosystem that fosters the growth and empowerment of women in the sector.
Now, the pharma industry stands at the cusp of another remarkable transformation. As leaders, stakeholders, and advocates for change, it's our responsibility to ensure that women in pharma have the opportunities, support, and recognition they deserve. We unleash the industry's full potential by providing women with equal opportunities. In the empowered hands of women, the pharmaceutical industry can continue to save lives, discover ground-breaking solutions, and redefine the boundaries of what is possible in the industry. The time for change is now, and the future of pharma is brighter than ever with women leading the way.