May / June 2020

Message from the Chair: The Future Belongs to All of Us

Frances M. Zipp
Message from the Chair: The Future Belongs to All of Us

Spring is finally here, signaling a time of new beginnings. Today finds me thinking about International Women’s Day (IWD, observed annually on 8 March), a global day of celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. This year, International Women’s Day has the theme of equality, a very fitting theme for the topics I want to share with you. This issue’s column is about Women in Pharma® (WIP): their goals, challenges, career advancement, and leadership.

Women in Leadership

It’s no secret there is a marked disparity in the number of women versus men in leadership roles in the corporate world. According to “Women in the Workplace 2019”1 (to date the largest comprehensive study of women in corporate America; a collaborative effort of and McKinsey & Company), based on five years of data from 590 companies:

  • Despite progress at senior levels, women remain significantly underrepresented.
  • A “broken rung” at the step up to manager is the biggest obstacle women face on the path to leadership.

However, if women are promoted and hired to first-level manager roles at the same rates as men, we will add 1 million more women as managers in corporate America over the next five years.

The study further illustrated that:

  • 19% of HR leaders say women are less likely to be promoted to first-level manager roles;
  • 7% of men say women are less likely to be promoted to first-level manager roles; and
  • 19% of women say women are less likely to be promoted to first-level manager roles.

One of the top solutions companies can introduce to help close the leadership gender gap, the study said, is to provide “mentor groups that bring small groups of employees together for monthly peer support and mentorship.” Read on to see how Women in Pharma® at ISPE is making this happen!

Women in Pharma® Goals for 2020

Women in Pharma® provides a forum for women in the pharmaceutical industry to connect and collaborate on technical and career advancement topics. You’ve heard me say I grew up in ISPE, and it’s true. Countless colleagues and mentors formed my professional network along the way and helped me become the leader I am today. That’s why I’m so passionate about supporting Women in Pharma® and their efforts to continue fostering balance and progress in our industry.

In a recent blog post on ISPE’s iSpeak Blog,2  Women in Pharma® revealed two ambitious goals for 2020:

  • Raising $25,000 for the ISPE Foundation to help professionals of all ages, cultures, and genders to embody the vision and spirit of ISPE with scholarships for educational events and travel grants.
  • Developing and sustaining 20 Mentor Circles globally to help more than 200 women and men grow and develop in their career paths. Within the Mentor Circles, there will be discussion of topics that create an environment for members to make themselves vulnerable and break down barriers for the next level of professional and personal success.

Pretty impressive goals, wouldn’t you say? Let’s reflect on them for a moment. Notice that the first goal aims to raise funding “to help professionals of all ages, cultures and genders,” and the second goal intends to develop and sustain “20 Mentor Circles globally to help 200 women and men grow and develop in their career paths.”

How is it possible to have a committee for women and also be inclusive? The answer is very simple. As women, we don’t tolerate being discriminated against and we also don’t discriminate against others. Equal means equal for all. So, here is the distinction: the programming and content are focused on women and will be branded as such, but members of all genders are welcome to participate in ISPE Women in Pharma® Mentor Circles, meetings, forums, and other events. To preserve the integrity of the Women in Pharma® brand and mission, only these events can be branded as ISPE Women in Pharma® events.

More Ahead for Women in Pharma® in 2020

Women in Pharma® is rolling out a robust array of events in 2020, including Breakfast Panel Discussion Sessions, Education Sessions focused on professional development, Women in Pharma® Networking Events, informal meetups, and local Affiliate and Chapter events. In addition, be sure to keep an ear out for the launch of Women in Pharma®’s podcast!

Lessons Learned from COVID-19

What I learned over the last few months in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • The importance of working together. In unprecedented numbers, companies in our industry have been working together to solve this complex problem. The willingness of competitors to collaborate for the greater good is a bright point.
  • Know your supply chain and have redundancies if possible. The potential disruptions in supply of materials, components, and finished goods had some trickle-down effects on our ability to supply critical medicines but was mitigated by proper planning and backups.
  • Contingency plans are important. Whether plans were needed to allow telecommuting, address travel restrictions, cancel large gatherings, or other issues, the need for contingency plans became paramount, and these need to be factored into our business plans going forward.