Inclusion and diversity – why it matters in pharma and how to make it work

by Anthony Bruce Pharmaceutical and Life Sciences Leader, PwC United Kingdom

Email +44 (0)7801 916767​

by Brenda Trenowden CBE Partner, Diversity & Inclusion Consulting, PwC United Kingdom

Email +44 (0)7483 329718

There are many good reasons for embracing inclusion and diversity (I&D). It’s not just about the obvious ethical case for ensuring equal opportunities and because it’s the right thing to do. It’s also about developing a healthy, high performing and thriving organisation.

Imagine how much stronger businesses would be if women and men, people of every ethnicity, and indeed everyone, were really given equal consideration in strategic planning, technological development, product design, marketing and external engagement.

But what is the broader healthcare sector doing about I&D? We recently brought together a group of practitioners from major international employers across pharma and life sciences in the UK, mainland Europe, and the USA to share their experiences in a virtual roundtable event.

Learning from that event as well as our own research and experience, we have identified the following recommendations to help make I&D integral to pharma companies:

  • Make I&D a strategic priority.
  • Think about the diversity of  customers, suppliers, and communities, as well as employees.
  • Have an enterprise-wide approach, examining every aspect of operations through an inclusion lens.
  • Understand what diversity data is available for analysis.
  • Adjust the culture to help make sure applying an inclusion lens becomes part of the way we do business every day.

Seizing the opportunity

Diversity is an opportunity for organisations to seize, and inclusion is about seizing that opportunity. But we see too few organisations actually taking advantage of it, even though it’s a clear way to differentiate their businesses, boost brand loyalty, and reinforce their social licence to operate.  

  • Diverse businesses create better outcomes
    Having a diverse workforce can enable organisations to better understand different segments of the population, anticipate their needs and deliver to them.
  • Diverse businesses create better returns
    Organisations with greater gender and ethnic diversity in their leadership teams are more likely to be more profitable and generate greater shareholder returns.
  • Diverse teams are more innovative and create more value
    A diverse set of experiences, perspectives and backgrounds generate more innovation and new ideas.
  • Diverse firms are more attractive to potential and existing employees
    An inclusive and diverse workplace is an important way to attract and retain diverse talent and can lead to increased productivity and morale.
  • Firms who prioritise I&D improve their reputation and brand
    A focus on I&D makes a positive impact on a company’s image and reputation, resulting in increased attraction and retention of talent and improved stakeholder relationships.

What can leaders do to improve I&D?

1. Take a systematic business-led approach to I&D

Link I&D to the business and growth strategy, making I&D a clearly defined priority like any other business goals. Clarify roles and responsibilities with clear governance structure to ensure accountability for delivering on I&D goals and targets and increase diverse representation and advance talent into various grades and roles.

2. Have a data-driven approach to strengthen inclusion

To enable equality of opportunity through fairness and transparency, embed I&D into the leadership imperative to ensure leaders at all levels create an inclusive culture and are equipped with the skills and knowledge to drive it forward. Take a data-driven approach to strengthen inclusion and a sense of belonging through regular progress tracking and reporting.

If you want to know more about our thinking on I&D in the life sciences, if you have experience to share, or if you’re interested in our future roundtable events around the topic, please get in touch.

by Anthony Bruce Pharmaceutical and Life Sciences Leader, PwC United Kingdom

Email +44 (0)7801 916767​

by Brenda Trenowden CBE Partner, Diversity & Inclusion Consulting, PwC United Kingdom

Email +44 (0)7483 329718

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