J&J, Abbott, Lilly lead pharma in diversity, says report

Dive Brief:

  • Johnson & Johnson, Abbott Laboratories and Eli Lilly & Co. are leading the pharmaceutical industry in creating diverse workplaces, according to a recent report from DiversityInc.
  • Released earlier this month, the business publication's annual Top 50 Companies for Diversity identified five drugmakers and one pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) who have developed effective and impressive diversity-management strategies. Johnson & Johnson clocked in well above its peers at No. 5, while Abbott and Lilly placed 10th and 16th, respectively.
  • Also on the list were Abbvie at 40, Roche's Genentech at 41 and CVS Health at 50. To craft the list, DiversityInc used survey submissions from hundreds of companies to gauge their talent pipelines, talent development, leadership accountability, supplier diversity and best practices for achieving a diverse working environment.

Dive Insight:

It has often been the case with drugmakers that it's easier to diversify their pipelines or portfolios than their workforces or training programs. The obstacle isn't isolated to just biopharma, as many industries, including tech and retail, have also received criticism for lacking women and minority employees — and particularly in leadership positions.

Research and anecdotal evidence has demonstrated that employing people from a variety of cultures, racial groups, ethnicities and the like benefits companies in a medley of ways. It can help foster innovation and lower turnover rates, which in turn prop up bottom lines. Still, the problem continues.

Particularly noteworthy for pharmaceutical developers has been the scarcity of women in executive and director-level positions. GlaxoSmithKline's Emma Walmsley, for example, became the first woman to captain a major international drug company in April. Hammering in the point are recent studies and surveys that found women are less likely than men to be promoted to manager positions earlier in their careers, and only one in four discuss with their managers how to foster their own leadership skills.

Johnson & Johnson appears to be trying to change such disparities. Nearly 40% more of the giant drugmaker's employees who are two steps below the CEO participate in mentoring programs — such as those that teach how to recognize and address personal bias — than other companies in the Top 50 list. 

"While cross-cultural mentoring is a strategic best practice, Johnson & Johnson takes this to the next level and employs a variety of strategic mentoring partnerships," DiversityInc said. "These include cross-gender, cross-functional, cross-segment, cross-generation and cross-region."

Compared to the other most diverse businesses, Johnson & Johnson has 38.4% more black, Latino and Asian representation on its board of directors, Abbott has 37.8% more women on its board, and Eli Lilly and AbbVie can tout having 33.9% and 48.7% more women promoted to managerial positions, respectively.

Genentech and CVS, meanwhile, excel at advancing blacks, Latinos and Asians into leadership positions. People of those demographics were promoted to management at the Roche subsidiary 52.9% more and at the PBM 31.9% more than at other companies included in the Top 50, according to DiversityInc.

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Filed Under: Corporate News