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"Little to no progress" made in achieving gender representation within top pharma firms, report says

Published on 18/07/19 at 10:39am

The release of Women Count 2019, an annual report funded by The Pipeline, has revealed that “little to no progress” has been made in pushing for gender diversity in senior roles among the world’s 350 biggest companies by market capitalisation (FTSE350), particularly within the pharma sector.  

Just 3.7% of these companies are headed up by a female CEO – a low figure which actually dropped, from 4.6% two years ago. There is no female representation on the main boards of more than 85% of companies, and only 9% of executive directors on these boards are female. The figures are not much better when it comes to the composition of executive committees, with only 17% of their members being a female – an increase of 0.8% since last year.

These figures are in spite of commitments by the UK Government to increase female representation in leadership positions to a third by 2020.

Specifically within pharma, female representation on executive committees had tripled to 26%, up from 8% in 2018, but representation in roles with profit and loss responsibility had halved over the same period to 4%, and representation of female executive directors on boards fell to 6% from 10%. Given these rates of change, the report estimated that it would take until 2090 before gender parity was reached in the industry.

“Over the last four years Women Count has proven that the FTSE 350 is not a meritocracy,” commented Lorna Fitzsimons, co-founder of the Pipeline. “When over 90% of men hold all the major positions from CEO, Executive Director and P&L roles there is something seriously wrong. The top listed companies are systemically failing to utilise their equally if not more talented female colleagues.

“We need to redefine the BEST person for the job and factor in the value of diversity to the Executive Committee’s performance,” she continued. “Businesses severely limit the talent they attract and retain as well as their bottom line when they exclude women. It’s time for the government and fund managers to force change.”

Matt Fellows

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