WOMEN ACHIEVERS Walking with Purpose
Diversity inclusion is increasingly becoming an important top-of-the-list board room agenda for a large number of corporations, and for good reason. In this context and talking specifically about gender biases, these have particularly plagued our societies for yore – relegating women to roles that have traditionally been perceived as more feminine in nature but also arguably make a lesser contribution and come with curtailed responsibilities and influence.
There has however been some perceptible and positive change in recent years. A large measure of this is driven by some pioneering female leadership that has emerged across industries, and these women have managed to change the narrative and focus through their own example and by bringing a perspective that was hitherto missing. Corporates are also waking up to the realization that this is not merely a feelgood factor. In a macroeconomic environment that now consistently demands innovation and cost efficiencies - engaging their workforce in a gender agnostic way will also translate into better employee engagement and overall productivity, which ultimately leads to a more resilient and growing bottom-line.
Women have been struggling to prove their prowess in every field and obtaining equal rights. The pharmaceutical and healthcare industry across the globe has long been dominated by men, a trait that is prevalent in other industries worldwide.
In a similar vein, a big change is now also sweeping across the immensely technical and challenging business landscape of the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry across the globe. In the last few decades, laboratory and pharma business world has seen significant positive changes. Today, the industry is witnessing fantastic female leaders emerging at the top, who not only hold positions of power within some of the biggest pharmaceutical and healthcare companies, but are also coming up with innovative game-changing ideas and services. Their business acumen apart, these women add tremendous value in shaping their organisations.
This increase is not, for the most part, due to any generic positive discrimination created by pharma companies, but a rapidly growing recognition of the talent and outstanding contribution women bring and will continue to bring in the future.
The progress made by women at work is substantial despite of facing barriers like outright sexism, as well as more subtle-but-powerful institutional gender biases, which remain stubbornly ingrained in business, as they do in day-to-day life. Deborah Rathjen, CEO, Bionomics has some numbers to share, “In 2016 Forbe’s article titled “the World’s 10 most powerful CEO’s”, not a single female made the cut. Delving deeper into the world’s top-earning pharma CEO’s of 2016, again women barely stood a chance, coming in at twelfth, among a sea of men. There is no doubt that the pharmaceutical industry is a male dominated world. However, with the recent appointment of a female CEO at global pharma GSK, increasing numbers of successful female CEOs in biotech, and with more females choosing science as a career pathway than ever before, we can hope to close the gap in gender equality. Important to note is that latest research also suggests that returns to VCs are higher when there is a female CEO.”
But much more needs to be done, even as the metaphorical glass ceiling is only just getting acknowledged but not necessarily being dismantled. Even in today’s time and work culture, where women are still discriminated against, how difficult is it for women to succeed in male dominated work spheres? Is it true that women cannot maintain balance between work and family? Is gender equality still a distant concept?
Reaching the top management generally takes years of hard work, dedication and personal growth to fulfil the demands of these roles. The game is up one level