Is gender diversity a problem in Switzerland’s life sciences industry

Posting date: 27 August 2020

Unlike other industries, Switzerland’s healthcare and life sciences sector doesn’t have a gender diversity problem; it has a ‘women in leadership positions’ problem. This is an issue globally, with women making up less than 30% of executive directors at the top pharmaceutical firms worldwide. This is despite women making up 65% of the workforce and 80% of the buying and usage decisions, suggesting there is a clear gap between women entering the industry and progressing to its most senior roles. So why does healthcare and life sciences struggle to promote women to its leadership positions, and what more can be done to help?


A Swiss – and global - problem


Not only do women make up just 30% of C-suite teams, but they also account for only 13% of CEOs within the healthcare industry, according to research by Oliver Wyman. And women who do reach CEO level take three to five years longer than their male counterparts. Looking at Switzerland more specifically, we know that there are enormous obstacles for women who want to juggle a family with a career, with Swiss Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter declaring: “You cannot have everything: three children, a seat on the board and a career.” Switzerland’s family policies are conservative compared to many other European countries, with high childcare costs, a lack of paternity leave and few incentives for women to continue working after having children.


Progression within healthcare and life sciences


While female representation is lacking at the senior level of healthcare and life sciences, similar numbers of men and women enter the workforce with life sciences and medicine degrees. However, the further up the seniority chain you go, the more this representation dwindles, from 33% women in senior leadership positions to 29% at COO level. This prompts the question: where do all the women go in healthcare and life sciences?


Some organisations do appear to be addressing this issue. Some of the largest pharmaceuticals companies in the world have appointed female CEOs, including GSK, Biocon and Mylan. Meanwhile, women make up 40% of executive committee members at Johnson and Johnson and Pfizer, suggesting green shoots are starting to emerge for women at the top.


Why is gender diversity in life sciences so important?


Gender diversity is important in every industry, but especially within life sciences and healthcare. For companies to understand the needs of – and produce solutions for – a diverse patient population, they need to reflect this diversity themselves. This is particularly important within R&D. Women and girls bear a bigger burden of disease than men in low-income countries, with many diseases disproportionately or exclusively affecting women. Life science and healthcare companies that understand this and focus on gender diversity and inclusion have a greater chance of meeting those patients’ needs.


Within the pharmaceuticals industry, profitability relies on the ability to understand patients. This is demonstrated in the FTSE 350 companies with no women on their executive committee, who only achieve an average of 8.9% net profit margin. Compare this to the companies with 25% female representation at executive level, with average net profit margins of 13.9%, and you’ll see that gender diversity really does lead to better business results.


What can we do to improve the outlook for women in this industry?


We know that around as many women enter the industry with medical and life science qualifications as men – so how can we ensure they keep progressing within their field?


According to a Women in the Workplace report by McKinsey and Lean In, the most significant obstacle women face when trying to progress to senior leadership is the very first step up to management level. For every 100 men promoted to manager, only 72 women are, which leaves more women remaining in entry level roles. And while many Swiss life sciences and healthcare firms are contributing to conversations around gender equality, what we need most is more action-driven change. According to the Women Count report, responsibility for this must start at the top down. CEOs should make diversity a business agenda, establishing hard targets for women in senior positions and providing transparent communications to the rest of the business – and industry - about this.


Informal mentorships are one of the best ways to promote women in this field, yet many organisations do not pay enough attention to mentorships and sponsorships. Firms that choose to make gender diversity a priority, by establishing clear, concrete goals and providing support and pathways for women, are likely to be the ones who benefit most.


How Swisslinx can help


As recruiters, we often see an imbalance of men and women applying for senior positions within healthcare and life sciences, particularly in Switzerland. Perhaps related to this, many of our clients are proactively looking for more diverse candidates. Women apply to 20% fewer jobs than men and are 16% less likely to apply to any given job, according to LinkedIn, with women feeling like they need to meet more of the criteria on a job ad than men. There’s clearly a disconnect when it comes to women believing they are qualified for senior level roles, and we’d like to help overcome this.


Diversity is important to us at Swisslinx – we're a 75% female team and understand the challenges women face in the Swiss workforce. If you’re considering your next job in healthcare and life sciences, or have a vacancy you’d like to fill, we can help. Find out about our client services or view our latest healthcare and life sciences jobs to get started.

What does the future of recruitment look like?

The world of recruitment is constantly evolving and digitisation has completely transformed a wide range of sectors. With the emergence of new skills, tools and software, organisations in Switzerland will need to implement expert recruitment strategies to secure the best talent. Switzerland has enjoyed a strong economy in recent years and statistics have shown that the unemployment rate amounted to around 3.5% in 2020. However, the way businesses recruit and retain talent will continue to shape the workforce – and while it’s difficult to predict outright what the future holds for recruitment, businesses will need to adapt to the demands of a new age of technology. And since the recruitment market is becoming increasingly competitive, recruiters are going to need plan in advance to keep up with the most in-demand talent. So, here’s an overview of how recruiting will grow and change in the future.   Focus on machine learning   Machine learning and automation will likely have a huge impact on onboarding and recruitment. AI is rapidly changing every industry and its effect on recruitment is already being felt in a multitude of ways. For example, HR automation tools have accelerated in recent years. These tools can collect, gather and analyse data, which means recruiters can easily build candidate profiles and establish a clearer picture of potential hires much more quickly. In the future, there’s no question that automation tools will be used even more frequently. One of the biggest challenges for recruiters is finding the right professionals amid the noise. Therefore, it’s likely that companies will use more machine learning and automated software to help secure the best candidates, increasing efficiency and productivity as a result.   Personalised recruitment   Today, most candidates are much informed about the type of company they want to work for. In this context, recruiters need to build an engaging and efficient hiring process, because the new generation of candidates takes a much more personalised and strategic approach to their career. Therefore, in the future, businesses won’t be able to rely on job postings or sending generic templated messages to candidates on LinkedIn. With candidates today being much concerned with an employer’s brand, the future of recruitment will be much personalised. This means that during the recruitment process, businesses will need to give candidates regular feedback and updates. In this candidate-driven market, transparency and a personalised hiring process will be of strong value in the future.   New talent pools   Recruiters of the future should begin to explore new talent pools, which include candidates with varied roles and professionals from the gig economy. In the modern world of work, employees change jobs more regularly, opting for a varied career path and different workplace cultures. The benefits of hiring these types of candidates are that they’re often exceptionally well-rounded and highly adaptable. With the rise of remote working as a result of the pandemic, hiring contractors for short projects has become much more commonplace. There will be more opportunities for businesses to hire freelance workers as full-time employees, tapping into unique skills. Recruiters of the future will likely have access to an array of talent pools with candidates from a diverse range of backgrounds.   Get in touch with our team at Swisslinx   The future of recruitment looks bright, but is your business ready to adapt to the changes? At Swisslinx, we have a dedicated and friendly team of recruitment specialists. Our team has an outstanding track record of building quality relationships with clients and candidates. We constantly keep up-to-date with the latest trends in our specialist markets, including digital and technology, financial services and life sciences. If you would like to learn more about how we can help prepare your recruitment strategy for the future, please contact us today for more information.

READ MORE

How a recruitment consultancy can add value in a new world

How a recruitment consultancy can add value in a new world The COVID-19 pandemic has completely changed how companies attract, recruit and retain new employees. Businesses around the globe have swiftly embraced remote working. While there are huge benefits of in-person meetings, it’s difficult to ignore that many businesses have thrived working remote. For recruitment consultancies in Switzerland, they’ve had to adapt to a new way of hiring. The recruitment industry has entered a new era defined by flexibility and the increasing use of technology. In a post-COVID world, recruitment consultants will be high in demand for their expertise, but the landscape has changed, paving the way for a range of challenges. So, how can recruiters continue to add value to clients and candidates? Dedicated, relevant expertise One of the major benefits of using a recruitment consultancy is that they provide staffing solutions for businesses across a range of different sectors, and they remain up-to-date with market trends, which includes recruiting during this challenging time. For example, at Swisslinx, we’re able to give our clients an overview of the market, helping them to plan their recruiting and ensure they only hire the best candidates. Right now, it’s all the more important that job specifications are in line with the market. Recruiters can provide consultancy around job specs, offer sector expertise and engage passive talent using platforms like LinkedIn. With businesses receiving a strong push into the world of virtual working, recruiters have been forced to provide their expertise virtually. This means recruitment consultancies, like Swisslinx, have been able to connect with people more efficiently and build strong and lasting relationships. Streamlined process There’s no doubt that COVID-19 has accelerated the rise of technology. With in-person contact limited, businesses will need to become more agile and innovate fast, to thrive in this competitive environment. However, the recruitment process can still be a long and daunting task for many businesses, despite the new tools available. One of the most desirable attributes of a recruitment consultancy is they can streamline the whole process, from CVs and interviews to talent community building. While the lack of in-person meetings with clients and candidates can be a challenge, video interviews can take place anywhere. In the future, there’s likely to be advanced recruitment tools to facilitate virtual meetings, so that all the information can be stored and analysed in one place. Hiring in a new world The current uncertainty around the employment landscape means that businesses will need to adopt a strategic mindset to attract the right type of candidates. One of the ways recruitment consultancies can add value in this area is by helping companies make their hiring much more targeted. Recruiting in a particular niche area has become essential in recent years, but with more candidates on the market, it’s much harder to find suitable candidates. At Swisslinx, we focus on recruitment markets such as financial services, technology, science and engineering across many sectors, which enables us to provide tailored solutions to our clients. There’s no doubt the future of recruitment will be more personalised and holistic and tailored to the specific needs of clients. Let Swisslinx help your business The pandemic has had a huge impact on the recruitment sector. At Swisslinx, we’ve always had a strong value proposition and an excellent track record of building excellent relationships with clients and candidates. As we progress through the year, our consultants will remain on hand to provide companies in Switzerland with the best recruitment expertise. Our team have years of experience in recruiting the most in-demand companies and we always take the time to understand the needs of every business. Contact us today if you need help finding the top candidates and take a further look at our insights page for more engaging articles.

READ MORE