AN INTERVIEW WITH SHERI MULLEN, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, U.S. SPECIALTY PHARMACEUTICALS
As the first industry consortium working to accelerate systemic change, what will lead the Collaborative to measurable positive outcomes?
The accountability factor of the Collaborative is very important. While sharing key data and best practices is important, it takes holding hands across the industry to champion the business case for gender parity within each of our individual organizations. The good news is like GSK, many of the organizations involved in the Collaborative have been recognized externally for their inclusion and diversity efforts, and by coming together, we can act as an accelerator for gender parity as well as hopefully extend our influence outward toward other companies.
Of what current company gender parity initiative are you most proud?
The Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) is a voluntary employee resource group within GSK, which began with a desire to help women connect, engage and develop professionally. I’ve been involved since the 1990s when it was just an informal network. Later I was involved in its formalization and became one of two executive sponsors. In this role, I’ve contributed to growing global membership to more than 4,200 members, and increased male participation because a gender balanced organization improves business performance. The WLI acts as a strong catalyst for policies and practices that meet employee expectations of a modern employer such as extended parental leave. Importantly, it serves as a key liaison to our Gender Parity Council at GSK, one of our four Diversity & Inclusion Councils comprised of some of our most senior leaders across the globe.
What makes this consortium unique compared to other initiatives/investments happening in your own organization?
The consortium is data-driven, thanks to the HBA’s role as an industry champion of McKinsey & Company’s Women in the Workplace study. This data is important for us to be able to advocate internally in our own organizations the value of having more women in leadership positions such as: accelerated innovation, employee satisfaction, and improved financial results. For example, in 2019 the study found that 76 percent of employees are more satisfied with their job when they feel that their company prioritizes gender diversity – this was true across both men and women.
How does your participation in the Collaborative complement what you are already doing?
In 2018, GSK launched an ambitious agenda to become a more modern employer, which falls under the Trust pillar of our strategic framework. This agenda includes a gender diversity goal of achieving over 37 percent female representation in senior leadership roles by 2022. Participating in the HBA Gender Parity Collaborative allows us to foster measurable impact across the industry, as well as assess our progress against industry benchmarks.
For companies who have yet to join, what do you think they’re missing out on?
Companies who have yet to join are leaving behind multiple opportunities:
• the opportunity to enhance their organizational performance;
• the opportunity to be part of a conversation that is timely and relevant; and
• perhaps most importantly, the opportunity to leave a positive impact on society.