Gender gaps in society remain a major barrier in the world today impeding social advancement and hampering economic growth. As a global biopharmaceutical company focused on human health, we are committed to act in the area where we can have the most impact. This has begun in our own company where we have the strong ambition to achieve equal representation of women and men among our top leaders. Our approach draws on our company’s culture of inclusion and diversity – an environment ensuring equal opportunities for the benefit of all. Proven as a business driver, we are convinced of the power of gender equality to foster and retain talents, spark innovation and solutions, all for the benefit of our patients.
Our engagement doesn’t stop there. Aligned to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal commitment to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, we are furthering our commitment by supporting women in health and science through education and entrepreneurship, and by partnering with others to improve women’s access to healthcare.
We are taking meaningful steps to help close gender gaps by empowering women in the health industry and supporting women’s health. At Sanofi, we are acting for Gender Equality.
Achieving gender parity within Sanofi
Change begins at home. In 2018, 45% of our overall workforce is made up of women, bringing us close to gender parity. But, at the top of the organization only 36% of our top leaders are female. Sanofi has therefore taken the commitment to reach a 50/50 gender balance among its 1,900 top leaders by 2025.
Including diverse perspectives in our decision-making processes encourages new ideas and enables us to be more innovative while connecting better with patients and customers’ needs. This has been proven: the 2017 Women Matters report by McKinsey found a difference in return of equity of 47% between companies with a majority of women on their executive committees and those with none. It confirms the strong link between women in leadership and economic performance. Fostering gender equality at Sanofi throughout all levels of our organization will help us attract and retain the best talents of both genders, making us a stronger and more successful company.
To fully achieve this transformation, we are working to engrain the principles of gender balance across Sanofi’s culture, values and strategy. This is why we are running a long-term awareness campaign, notably through the Challenge your bias training, on this issue to make sure all colleagues understand the importance of gender balance and secure support from all of them. After awareness comes action. We are building a more inclusive working and work-life environment for all, through Global policy guidelines that support more flexible working and expand the definition of family leave. We have also launched training programs to find and mentor future female leaders at Sanofi. Our main Global program, Elevate, ensures that our many talented women have the leadership skills and exposure to match their potential to rise to the top.
Empowering women to lead in health
Beyond our company walls, we want to make a positive impact in the wider healthcare environment where women remain underrepresented both as business leaders and as scientists. The sector as a whole can benefit from a broad mix of backgrounds making it possible to challenge long-established ideas and bring in new perspectives. Our action spans the wide spectrum of roles women play within the sector: as leaders, as researchers and as entrepreneurs.
Starting in the healthcare field, we are active members of the Healthcare Businesswoman’s Association (HBA), a global non-profit association offering opportunities dedicated to promoting gender diversity to help women leaders grow and thrive. In the US, we are part of HBA’s Gender Parity Collaborative, a unique consortium of healthcare and life sciences companies convinced of the business case to close the gender gap through bold action. By teaming up together, we are putting the full weight of the industry behind these initiatives for change.
Further upstream, we are actively participating in initiatives to support and encourage women researchers in the STEM (sciences, technology, engineering and math) field. To understand what works best here, Sanofi partnered up with a dozen major corporations and the Center for Talent Innovation (CTI) in the US who ranked ten common initiatives according to how effective they are in retaining and advancing women in STEM. In Italy, Sanofi has also been involved in European-wide project “Deploy Your Talents – Stepping up the STEM agenda for Europe” which has worked to combat gender stereotypes about STEM career held by female students. By nurturing the pipeline of talented women researchers in the sector, we are paving the way for a more balanced – and more successful future.
In the world of enterprise, women are also chronically lacking in the early-stage life sciences companies. To address this final angle, we have partnered with The Massachusetts Next Generation Initiative (MassNextGen), that is offering a year-long customized package of support to women-led life science start-ups. Specifically, in health tech, we are going to the root of the problem by providing insights to the Women’s Forum as they draw up guidelines to help empower women who are spearheading tech-based health solutions. In so doing, we are doing our bit to bring more women’s perspectives to the table to create the innovative therapeutic products of tomorrow.
Improving women’s access to health
By bringing more women leaders into the healthcare industry, we will benefit from a more balancedperspective on healthcare issues, such as women’s access to health. The World Health Organization reports that gender has an impact on health equity: women and girls suffer more from specific diseases and often experience difficulty in accessing healthcare.
Drawing on our area of expertise, Sanofi is co-leading the Women’s Forum taskforce (called “Daring Circle”) on Women’s Access to Health. The taskforce brings experts from different and complementary fields to work on delivering concrete solutions to address the gaps in women’s access to health through women-led tech solutions. Work has already begun to analyze the priority issues affecting women’s access to health in a white paper. This will provide the basis for a call for initiatives that will challenge and reward start-ups developing tech-based solutions to tackle women’s access to health issues.
Maternal health access is a particular area of concern for many women in the world. According to a Lancet Study over 830 women die every day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Over many years, the Sanofi Espoir Foundation has developed long term programs to improve maternal and newborn health, especially by improving the skills of health professionals, in countries such as Mexico, Tanzania, Algeria, Mongolia, Myanmar and Ethiopia. Most recently, Sanofi awarded, as part of the AfricaTech challenge at VivaTech, the start-up “GiftedMom” which provides maternal education through a mobile phone application aimed to reach over 1 billion pregnant women and new mothers in Africa by 2030.
By improving their access to health, we can ultimately empower women to expand their economic and social opportunities to create economic growth and progress within society.