Authored by Karl Simpson
Many of the challenges relating to gender diversity have been difficult to overcome because they have remained buried, rather than discussed in an open and pragmatic debate. The preconceptions people hold around gender diversity need to be tested, whether pro-diversity or against. Only then can we begin to formulate a broad consensus about why and how diversity in Boardrooms is important.
In life sciences, and in particular pharmaceuticals, the diversity mix is progressing and it now compares reasonably or favourably relative to other sectors. However, in the field of biotechnology where companies are characterised more by their start-up structures, Boards are underpopulated by women.
The key issues are increasingly coming to the surface and they are being actively discussed at the Board level. In our capacity as Executive Recruiters, we have active experience of the importance this is gaining and also our responsibility to advocate diversity in executive recruitment situations. Equally, the executive recruitment industry must be active participants in the debate but also leaders on the issue. Often we have the opportunity to shape attitudes on these matters and then introduce practical measures which will improve candidate diversity in executive and Board level appointments.
These combined activities mean gender diversity issues are much more understood now than at any time in the past. There is also an increasing global debate about these issues of gender diversity and this is fundamental in an industry like pharmaceuticals which has global dimensions.
In recognition of International Women’s Day 2014 and to highlight the success that women executives in Europe are having in the life sciences sector, Liftstream has compiled a list of 20 prominent European women executives and Board members influencing the life sciences sector. These are women coming from the fields of general management, medical, scientific discovery, investment, and business development. This breadth of functional representation demonstrates the success and important roles women can play in the spectrum of functional disciplines key to life sciences industries.
Industry in general, as well as many successful women we interact with, believe meritocracy to be the way forward over quotas. Sharing ideas and arguments, as well as communicating the successes of women who are achieving, will open people’s minds to the possibilities of diversity and continue to create a more open system for debating diversity related issues.