To mark International Women’s Day, and with a predominantly female ‘squad’ making up our Healthcare practice, we wanted to take this opportunity to highlight some of the amazing work being done by a few of the influential female leaders in healthcare today, and the impact that women can have in these senior positions.

The Trailblazers

Emma Walmsley is one of just seven female CEOs in the UK FTSE 100, heading up the largest grossing company on the list – GlaxoSmithKline. Since taking on the role, Ms Walmsley has had to make some tough decisions, and although it may take some time before the strategies come to fruition, there’s no doubt her trailblazing leadership signals a turning tide that is just starting to be echoed throughout the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries.

In research, MSD recently announced a multi-million pound investment in a drug discovery centre in London, with Dr Fiona Marshall appointed to lead it as VP Head of Neuroscience Discovery and Head of Discovery Research MRL UK. A world-leading expert in research, Dr Marshall’s 25-year career has included leading teams to new and highly significant biological mechanism and drug discoveries, while winning numerous awards and becoming elected as a Fellow to the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2016.

Women are also filling technical C-suite roles more frequently than in previous years. One such woman sits as Executive Vice-President, Global Development and Chief Medical Officer at Roche: Dr Sandra Horning. Having spent 25 years as a practicing oncologist, investigator and tenured professor at Stanford University School of Medicine, serving as President of ASCO in 2005-2006 and Chair of the Lymphoma Committee of the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) since 1995, Dr Horning has made important and substantial contributions to the treatment of lymphoma and other cancers.

With women more frequently entering these roles, it is fair to say, and celebrate the fact, that progress is definitely being made, however there is still much more to do. According to recent reports, despite a narrowing of the gap, women continue to be in the minority in senior positions; in 2018, just 22.6% of Fortune 500 healthcare company board members were female (as reported by Forbes). Work places need to continue to champion programmes which support women in leadership, with more girls encouraged to enter STEM careers at a younger age.

The Benefits

The advantages of women in leadership are quite substantial – recent reports have shown that this can have a positive impact on financial performance; companies with the highest representation of women in senior management experience better financial performance than companies with lower representation; and that’s not where the benefit ends. Amongst many things, higher gender diversity also brings:

  • increased productivity
  • greater innovation and better products
  • better decision-making, informed by a wider breadth of experience
  • higher employee retention and satisfaction

(see Morgan Stanley report)

While researching this piece, I discovered more and more inspiring women who have risen through the ranks of pharmaceutical and healthcare companies, and was greatly encouraged by this, as well as by their comments in various news articles, indicating they thought the future will be bright and powerful for women. Sandra Horning summed this up as eloquently as you would expect from a compassionate leader, stating “This is a wonderful time for female leaders in the biopharma industry to embrace and model diversity and inclusion of all kinds, which we know leads to better business performance as well as enriching the culture, providing greater individual opportunity, and increasing the joy of working for all.”

In 2018, Madano was proud to be ranked in the top ten communications consultancies in the Small Agency category for the UK’s 2018 Best WorkplacesTM for Women, and we’re excited to be progressing in this area!

Getting into the spirit for International Women’s Day, check out our social media channels to see which women inspire us here at Madano.

Written by Sam Marshall, Senior Programme Executive

Madano advises clients across the healthcare sector – if you’re interested in learning more please drop us a line. You can also follow Madano on Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn.

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