Past Performance #1: Biotech Company

Biotech Company Takes Pulse of Female Employees on How to Best Design Women’s Initiative 

Challenge: A well known, global specialty biopharmaceutical company is a successful manufacturer of many common drugs. Originating in Europe with a large operational base in the US, the company employs thousands of people in roughly 30 countries.  Unlike many of its competitors, in 2011, the company did not have a formal women’s initiative or network and yet sought to understand women’s level of interest in such a program.  While the company does not set gender targets, it does foster what it calls a courageous culture, which aims to provide all employees with a supportive environment that embraces diversity. 

Solution: In 2011, the company engaged Selena Rezvani to design a multinational research study uncovering the career needs of its women. The study of 5 international locations included a multinational strategy-building session, an electronic survey, and a presentation of results and recommendations.  Rezvani began by writing a comprehensive communication plan, including customizable templates for senior leaders covering each phase of the initiative—from announcing the study to sharing results with employees.

Rezvani then designed and facilitated a kickoff video conference—across 4 countries—which educated attendees on cutting-edge practices in corporate women’s networks.  The session also elicited from female professionals what they wanted most from a corporate women’s network and what the experience of women leaders was regarding development and advancement. Following the session, Rezvani co-designed an electronic survey gauging what leadership development practices were most critical to female employees and how these practices might fit into a global women’s network.

At the conclusion of the 2-week, multinational survey, senior leaders were presented with a comprehensive report that outlined key findings.  Additionally, Rezvani facilitated an interactive PowerPoint presentation including numerical and qualitative data and 5 actionable, short-term recommendations.

Impact:  Following the research study by Rezvani, the company saw considerable momentum in its new women’s network.  A steering group was assembled which provides structure for global chapters—allowing them the autonomy to direct their own leadership programming and activities. The company also took a more active role externally in promoting women’s leadership: in late 2011, the company sponsored a highly visible, sold out event with the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association which brought education and motivation to nearly 1,000 women.

Even more importantly, between 2011 and 2012, the company’s proportion of female employees rose from 47% to 49%, and its leadership team went from being composed of 43% women to 50% women.  As well, following the study by Rezvani, the company was named as “Business of the Year” for being the only business in its category where women make up at least 50 percent of the executive leadership team.

Without making assumptions or unnecessary investments, the study and recommendations helped company leaders understand the specific impact female employees wanted in a formal network.  Through its multipronged approach to better engaging its women employees, the company sets an impressive example of the benefits of diversity in leadership.

Read more: Government Agency Goes Deep with Employees to Shift Workplace Culture

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