Increasing Diversity and Inclusion in the Pharmaceutical Industry


November 23, 2023

International Women’s Day is annually marked as a time to reflect on the strides made and the challenges ahead in achieving gender equality. In the pharmaceutical industry in England, a key economic contributor, the importance of gender diversity and inclusion is increasingly recognized as a catalyst for innovation and progress.

While there’s a growing number of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education, they are still significantly outnumbered by men. The British Science Association highlights that only 27% of the UK’s STEM workforce is female.

The Current Pharma Workforce

Historically, the pharma industry has been male-dominated, particularly in leadership roles. However, there’s a shift towards valuing a diverse workforce. The ‘Women and Girls in Science’ initiative, now in its 8th cycle with the 2023 theme ‘Innovate, Demonstrate, Elevate,’ aims to guide policy development for future science and society integration.

According to the ABPI’s 2021 Workforce Diversity Survey, women constitute 54.2% of England’s pharma workforce, slightly above the national average of 50.7%. Yet, their representation dwindles at the senior leadership level, holding only 31.5% of board-level positions. To address this, the industry is adopting various measures:

Supporting Women in Science and Technology

Pharmaceutical companies are actively supporting women’s involvement in science and technology through scholarships, internships, and mentoring programs. For instance, AstraZeneca’s ‘Women in Science’ program is dedicated to nurturing and encouraging future female scientists by offering them valuable mentorship and networking opportunities.

Advancing Women into Leadership Roles

Pharmaceutical firms are focusing on elevating women to leadership positions by establishing targeted leadership development programs for female employees. These initiatives aim to equip women with the necessary skills and experiences for leadership roles within the organisation. An example is GlaxoSmithKline’s Women in Leadership Program, which offers coaching and developmental opportunities to emerging female leaders.

Establishing Inclusive Workplaces

The pharma industry is striving to create inclusive workplaces by enacting policies that support work-life balance, ensure equal pay for equal work, and provide flexible working conditions. These measures are intended to accommodate women, particularly those managing both professional and familial duties. Pfizer, for instance, offers a comprehensive Parental Leave Policy, granting up to 20 weeks of paid leave to primary caregivers, regardless of gender.

Promoting Diversity and Inclusion through Collaborations

Pharmaceutical companies are collaborating with organisations dedicated to diversity and inclusion to cultivate a more inclusive culture in the industry. These collaborations aim to enhance diversity in recruitment, training, and leadership, thereby fostering a more diverse and inclusive sector. For example, Sanofi’s partnership with the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association offers mentorship and networking opportunities to women in the industry.

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Diversity in Pharma

Published on 23-11-2023