UK BioPharma to target lack of Boardroom Diversity

02 March 2017

LONDON – An event aimed at improving diversity in biopharma boardrooms takes place on 28th March, following a 2017 study by Liftstream forecasting that the current 1% growth in participation of women would mean gender imbalanced boards until 2056. The research, spanning 4 years, showed a net increase of just 15 women directors across 177 companies. 

The Liftstream event, in partnership with MedCity, brings together 200 life sciences and investment executives to discuss intentional solutions for increasing boardroom and leadership diversity within the industry. The event will explore the business case of diverse leadership, including improved innovation, strategic competitive advantage, financial performance, enhanced company culture and human capital management.

Leaders implementing the UK’s prominent diversity initiatives aimed at increasing the participation of women and under-represented groups in UK business will also share their experience, insights and best-practice to enact change.

“We are excited to bring this event to the UK for the first time and are tremendously pleased to partner with MedCity to do so.” said Karl Simpson, CEO of Liftstream. “Our research highlights the sector’s lack of boardroom diversity and many of the causes. We have shown there are strong business and cultural incentives for biopharma companies to increase diversity on their board of directors. People in the sector are solution-minded and collaborative, which is why we’re bringing them together to take decisive action towards increasing diversity on biotech and pharmaceutical company boards.”

The Liftstream study also revealed evidence showing that diverse biotech boards outperform their counterparts in terms of shareholder returns by ~28 percent, and that they have stronger and more sustainable cultures which attract human capital.

Rajesh Agrawal, Deputy Mayor for Business, said: “London is home to some truly innovative and life-changing scientific companies but it is clear that much more needs to be done to boost the number of women at board level”.

He added: “Events such as this will help us to develop ways to increase the participation of women. In the meantime, the Mayor and I will keep spreading the message to all businesses that it is crucial that they remove any barriers to women by adopting the highest possible standards for fair pay, good working conditions and gender equality.”

Sarah Haywood, CEO of MedCity, said: “BioPharma boardrooms do not currently reflect the real world, and although gender diversity in science and technology is a hot topic, there is still much to do within the industrial base. This isn’t an exercise in tokenism; we need to think hard about ways to encourage and support talented people into meaningful positions. I hope that by setting an example at the top of companies, the diverse pool of talent available to choose from will be expanded and there will be greater opportunity for talented people from all groups to participate in the leadership of some of our most exciting companies.”

The event will feature prominent leaders from across the biotech and investment sectors with substantial expertise of diverse business cultures:

  • Dr Annalisa Jenkins, CEO, Dimension Therapeutics Inc., non-executive director of Ardelyx Inc., Biothera Pharmaceuticals, MedCity, Viventia Bio, Inc., Vium
  • Dr Denise Scots-Knight, CEO and Board Director and Co-Founder, Moreo BioPharma Plc., non-executive Director of Oncomed and Albireo
  • Dr Stephen Bunting, Chairman, Abingworth LLP.
  • John Berriman, Chairman at Confo Therapeutics, Depixus, ReNeuron Group Plc., Autifony Therapeutics
  • Catherine Moukheibir, Chairperson of MedDay Pharmaceuticals, non-executive director of Ablynx nv, Zealand Pharma A/S
  • Gerry Brown, Chairman, Novaquest Capital Management
  • Paul George, Executive Director of Corporate Governance and Reporting, Financial Reporting Council
  • Isabel Fernandez-Mateo, Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship, London Business School
  • Roel Bulthuis, SVP and Managing Director, Merck Ventures
  • Denis Woulfe, Partner and Vice Chairman of Deloitte LLP., Co-Chair of Men as Change Agents and Member of Women’s Business Council
  • Dr Yvonne Thompson CBE, Entrepreneur, Author and Steering Committee Member of Parker Review

Annalisa Jenkins, CEO of Dimension Therapeutics, commented: “I am thrilled to be supporting this important forum and the work of Liftstream and MedCity. My professional life has strengthened my conviction that diverse teams are winning teams. That the best male leaders open the doors for women to grow and shine. And that the next generation expect us all to create a platform for everyone to make a difference.”

The event will take place at the British Medical Association, Tavistock Square, London from 3pm on March 28th. Industry professionals can register their interest to attend at the following link.

To register for the event:

Notes to Editors:

Event enquiries:

Report: Patel, R., Stasiak, L. & Simpson, K. A Public Reality for Women in Biotech Boardrooms (Liftstream, London, 2017).

About Liftstream

Liftstream is an executive search recruitment practice focused exclusively on the global life sciences sector. Our clients benefit from the advanced sector knowledge we possess and the exceptional people we’re able to recruit for them into positions of leadership. Since 2003, Liftstream has been recruiting outstanding people to the unique and complex challenges of life sciences and who have contributed to innovative new treatments improving global health. Our client partnerships always focus on strengthening our clients’ teams. We achieve this through comprehensive searches and rigorous candidate assessments to identify and appoint the person most suited to our clients. Liftstream is committed to equal opportunities, diversity and inclusion.

For more information about Liftstream, please visit:

About MedCity:

MedCity exists to promote and grow life sciences investment, entrepreneurship, collaboration and industry in London, Cambridge, Oxford and the greater south east.

From drug discovery to devices, diagnostics and digital health, MedCity supports life sciences and healthcare companies large and small to do business in the golden triangle.

Launched in April 2014 by Imperial College Academic Health Science Centre, King’s Health Partners, UCLPartners and the Mayor of London, and in collaboration with the University of Oxford and Cambridge University; MedCity promotes life sciences in the region.

For more information about MedCity, please visit:

Liftstream Limited

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