One of Biopôle’s corporate partners, Labcorp, is committed to developing talent as diverse as the communities it serves. This starts with its senior leaders being invested in diversity and inclusion. Dr Michelle Scott, VP and Head of the Discovery and Biotechnology Solutions and Executive Sponsor of a local Labcorp Women’s Empowerment Network, explains how organisations and even individuals can address the gender gap.
When we look at the numbers, it’s clear there has been some progress in helping women climb the corporate ladder. Here in the UK, 38.9% of FTSE 250 board positions are held by women. In Switzerland, women hold just over a quarter of seats on company boards – a similar proportion to the seats held by women on Labcorp’s own board. We’re not there yet, but we’re moving in the right direction.
Gender inequality is still very much present in the workplace, including in the life sciences sector. When you reach a certain level of seniority, the paths of male and female leaders start to diverge: men continue to progress while women’s progress appears to slow or comes to a halt. According to an article published by Deloitte in 2019, women account for 49% of the global life sciences workforce but only 10% of boards and 20% of leadership teams. Why is this?
Discrimination is not always apparent, but it is present. Yet those who discriminate may not even be aware they’re doing it. This is called unconscious bias, where unintentional judgements and assessments affect how we think and act. For instance, a woman who wants to work part time due to family commitments may be automatically ruled out when applying for a senior leadership position. That’s despite the fact that there is little evidence that senior roles cannot be successfully held by a part-time candidate with a flexible working arrangement in place.