Pistoia Alliance launches Women in STEM leadership pilot

Posted: 15 February 2022 | | No comments yet

A new collaborative initiative involving 15 large pharma companies will support diversity in executive roles and cross-company leadership skills development.

Pistoia Alliance launches Women in STEM leadership pilot

The Pistoia Alliance, a global, not-for-profit alliance that advocates for greater collaboration in life sciences R&D, has announced the launch of a new Women in STEM leadership pilot program.

The program is aimed at organisations seeking to develop leadership and mentoring skills and promote diversity in the life sciences work environment. It brings together more than 40 participants spread across 12 countries under the Pistoia Alliance umbrella. There are 15 companies involved in the pilot stage: AbbVie, AstraZeneca, Bayer, Biogen, Bristol Myers Squibb, CSL, GlaxoSmithKline, Roche, Janssen, Merck & Co, Merck KGaA DE, Novo Nordisk, Pfizer, Sanofi, and Takeda.

Anca Ciobanu, Program Lead, said: “While many companies may have their own DE&I programs, the true value of the Pistoia Alliance is that it’s a collaborative space where best practices and ideas can be shared cross-company and globally. Interest in this program is significant and early pilot feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and really shows that companies are committed to change. We are excited to open up the waitlist for the next stage of the program, and encourage people from all backgrounds to get involved, including our tech company members.”

Despite women making up 53 percent of the world’s STEM bachelor’s and master’s graduates, they still only account for approximately 30 percent of the world’s researchers. Women are also more likely to leave the STEM career pipeline than men, leading to a wider gap at the senior level. Further, women account for only 16 percent of managers and three percent of CEOs in this field, which is why the Alliance has chosen to focus its pilot scheme on leadership roles.

The Alliance’s project will tackle the reasons behind these statistics. The pilot features four diversified groups of 10; each group has a maximum of two men, allowing male participants to experience first-hand being part of a minority group. The participants represent varied areas of expertise, including data science, industry regulation, and drug safety and development research; 45 precent are based in the US, and the remaining 55 percent span Europe and China.

During the application process, participants were asked what they believed was holding them back from progressing in their careers. Their answers will shape the program’s weekly training sessions and include areas such as:

  • How to develop an inclusive workplace culture with more opportunities and support for women in science and technology roles
  • How to be clearer and more confident when communicating at the senior leadership level
  • Networking opportunities both internally and externally.

Nicola Oxby, Director, GSK Medicines Research Centre, said: “I have recently moved to a more senior position in my organisation from a local team manager to global head of department. I am excited to be participating in a program that will allow me to build wider networks, learn about senior leadership from others in the field, and increase my confidence in my role. I’m leading the inclusion and diversity activities for my department, and think this program will help me better support women in science at my own organisation.”

The pilot program will end in June 2022, with the Alliance aiming to run a series of future programs using feedback and learnings from the pilot, so even more of its members can benefit. Going forwards, the Alliance wishes to develop a more comprehensive Diversity and Inclusion in STEM Leadership Program that creates a community of leaders who share the same values and who contribute to change in the overall industry – either by directly changing or promoting equality in their organisations.