Pfizer explores ways of getting more women into leadership roles

Pfizer explores ways of getting more women into leadership roles
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First Published: Mon, Jun 15 2009. 01 15 AM IST
Updated: Mon, Jun 15 2009. 11 00 AM IST
New York: Executives of the world’s largest drug maker Pfizer Inc. gathered in Dubai on Sunday to find ways to promote more females to leadership roles, as the world’s largest drug maker seeks to sell more medicines to women in developing countries.
Pfizer’s general counsel Amy Schulman and president of emerging markets Jean-Michel Halfon met 250 employees from 70 nations, the drug maker said in a statement.
The company said this was its first session with managers of both genders to focus on women employees in developing nations, including China, India, and Brazil.
Putting more women into management positions could help Pfizer better market its medicines to women, who in some countries are the main healthcare decision makers, said Susan Silverman, head of Pfizer’s Latin America division, who helped organize the event.
In the pharmaceutical industry, where employment is evenly split between the sexes, almost 90% of executives are male, according to industry surveys, Silverman said.
This isn’t just a nice thing to do, it is a business issue, said Silverman in a telephone interview. Women make a lot of medical decisions and provide a lot of healthcare and there’s a need to turn the tide if the firm is going to be a leader in global health, she added.
Pfizer chief executive officer Jeffrey Kindler has named four women to the company’s 10-person executive leadership team in the past three years, said Schulman.
Pfizer wants to improve management opportunities for women outside of the company’s New York headquarters, in Asia, Africa, West Asia and Latin America, she said in a telephone interview. Pfizer may have similar meetings for its other business divisions in the future, she said.
Pfizer’s Kindler has restructured the company over the past three years, replacing nearly all its top managers, firing around 15,000 workers, and breaking the business into smaller units.
The company is bracing to lose patent protection in 2011 on its top-selling Lipitor cholesterol pill, with $12.4 billion (Rs58,776 crore today) in revenue last year. It is imperative to train the next generation of women leaders and do a better job of that, said Schulman.
That is imperative for any global company that is facing the kind of challenges Pfizer is.
To help offset the losses, Pfizer is trying to boost its business in developing countries, which could add more than $3 billion in revenue by 2012, Halfon had said in an interview last month.
On the list of speakers at Pfizer’s meeting were outside speakers on women’s issues, such as Halla Tomasdottir, executive chairman of Audur Capital, a Reykjavik-based investment company founded by women that has weathered the credit crisis in Iceland better than its competitors. And, Maryam Matar, director general of Dubai’s community development authority.
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First Published: Mon, Jun 15 2009. 01 15 AM IST