Insights Blog



By QLK Team
on Jul 12, 2021
  • Life Sciences | Recruiting | Blog
How Closing the Gender Gap May be the Smartest Decision your Biopharmaceutical Company Makes all Year

Over half of the US population is made up of women.

So, all it takes is some basic math to tell you that alienating women via the gender gap is terrible math for any company.

Think about it--immediately, you're closing off the candidate pool to a vast group of potentially difference-making talent because you aren't being fair to an entire gender.

Now, you might not think the gender gap extends to your organization, and maybe you're correct. But it's still an issue throughout the biopharmaceutical industry as an unconscious bias.

Read on as this blog further explores this issue and highlights why closing the gender gap will end up being the best decision your biopharmaceutical company makes all year:

Yes, There's Still a Gender Gap in Medicine

It's worth noting that the gender gap isn't as bad as it once was, and strides have been made as far as awareness goes.

In fact, outside of biopharmaceuticals, the gender pay gap has narrowed in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Australia since 2016. Unfortunately, the improvements aren't as significant as one might hope, with the gap closing only slightly in these countries.

Action must be taken to make lasting, positive changes in this area, and results don't suggest enough has been done to close the gap.

One scholarly article examined studies across medical specialties and geographies to find that women physicians made less than their male peers. For instance, women's salaries were - on average - 8.0% (nearly $20,000) less than men's at 24 public US medical schools. This difference existed at all faculty ranks.

As the study points out, many make the mistake of thinking this gap occurs because women physicians work less than their male counterparts.

However, even adjusted to the above factors, women still made less than their male peers.

The Pay Gap in the Biopharmaceutical Space

The above section looked at the medical industry as a whole. In contrast, this part of the blog will get more granular with biopharmaceuticals.

More specifically, the story of Vertex CEO Reshma Kewalramani will be explored.

There's a couple of considerations to make here. For one, the fact that a woman is CEO of a company like Vertex is a positive. Plus, in 2020, Kewalramani made $9.11 million--and that's nothing to scoff at.

Yet, when you dig a bit deeper into the numbers, it tells a different story. Namely, Kewalramani's predecessor, Jeffrey Leiden, doubled the company's current CEO's earnings in his final year.

Then there's GlaxoSmithKline's CEO Emma Walmsley, whose 2020 earnings of $9.7 million were far less than her male peers.

For example, Johnson & Johnson's Alex Gorsky pocketed $30 million in 2020.

Also, keep in mind that Kewlaramani and Walmsley are the only two women CEOs in the biopharmaceuticals space. And given the way these women leaders are undervalued in the industry, it's understandable why more aren't knocking down the doors for opportunities.

Why and How Biopharmaceutical Companies Need to Close the Gap

As discussed in the introduction, by neglecting talented female candidates, businesses only hurt themselves. The studies speak for themselves--failing to attract women CEOs isn't just a diversity problem; it stifles your organization's finances in the long run.

So, how can you go about bringing on these top talents?

Ensure that your benefits package matches the needs of the current workforce, which includes women leaders.

In fairness, restructuring your benefits package to attract women CEOs can be challenging since many biases are unconscious. In other words, how can you know a benefits package speaks to high-performing women leaders?

That's why you should work alongside an expert healthcare executive recruitment company with a specialty in diversity and inclusion hires, such as QLK. Contact us today to find out more.