Leadership & Management

Medicines Australia, AusBiotech and MTAA advocate for gender equality on International Women’s Day

Health Industry Hub | March 8, 2021 |
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Monday 8 March marks International Women’s Day – a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) is #ChooseToChallenge. It’s a call to action to accelerate work towards gender parity, raise awareness about women’s equality, and celebrate women’s successes.

In support of International Women’s Day, Elizabeth de Somer, Chief Executive Officer, Medicines Australia told Health Industry Hub “Gender equality is an important topic and focus for me. As the CEO of Medicines Australia I am proud to see our industry leading other industries and sectors in policies and practices to support women. I look to contribute to an industry where everyone can thrive by creating meaningful opportunities to elevate female talent. We are also proud to be collaborating with the Patient Voice Initiative (PVI) in the International Women’s Day webinar #ChooseToChallenge on Monday 8 March. This webinar will explore some of the challenges that women face navigating the health system-balancing family life, work, social amidst medical treatment and a health system that does not always meet the diverse needs of women.”

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“The pharmaceutical industry is leading other industries in policies and practices that support women. In 2017, the industry established a special interest group, Pharmaceutical Australia Gender Equality (PAGE) to strengthen the industry’s approach to developing talent by ensuring all people have equal opportunities to advance and be rewarded. This group has now evolved into the Pharmaceutical Australia Inclusion Group (PAIG) to build a more inclusive industry where all people are equally valued, rewarded and thrive. I am excited that we have an enviable pipeline of female talent with women making up 60% of the workforce. It is about shaping the workplace to bring out the best in all people. We will continue to focus on initiatives that enable all people to do their best work in an environment of support, collaboration, and trust,” she added.

Lorraine Chiroiu, Chief Executive Officer, AusBiotech said “Every IWD, I’m struck by two things: the amazing women that have created change through their incredible efforts; and that despite these effort we remain far from equality. In regard to those amazing women, since last IWD, two notable women passed away: Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Helen Reddy. Ginsburg spent much of her legal career, that saw her spend more than 25 years as an Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court as the second woman ever appointed, as an advocate for gender equality and women’s rights. She changed not only views but laws. Reddy, activist and feminist, gave us the official anthem of the women’s rights movement, I AM Woman, in the 1970s.

“We have seen great change as a result of women like these, which is cause for celebration, but it’s slow and we have to do better. Choosing to challenge ourselves and empowering colleagues across the sector to do better and to shift the dial further, will support our industry to capitalise on new technologies and growth opportunities. A pleasure and privilege of my role is the opportunity to champion diversity through AusBiotech’s leading platforms and showcasing the brilliant talent within our sector.

“The imbalance in biotech of gender equality as seniority increases is well-known and backed by evidence – as is the business case for why that needs to continue improving. Australia holds some world-leading talent, and AusBiotech is encouraged that gender diversity is stepping in the right direction to foster and support this growing pool. Even though men and women in our sector are making concerted efforts, sadly the gender balance on biotech boards remains hugely skewed. More work is required if biotech boards are to move from 26% to meet the AICD goal of 30% for ASX-listed companies, let alone equal balance. AusBiotech encourages industry to continue to strive for better, spread the message, celebrate both small and large achievements, challenge the status quo, and to consider the efforts of diversity and inclusion across all aspects of operations,” she noted.

The Medical Technology Association of Australia (MTAA) CEO Ian Burgess said “MTAA is a proud champion for women’s equality and ensuring women have every opportunity to achieve and thrive in Australia’s dynamic and growing MedTech industry.

“MTAA’s Women in MedTech initiative is just one important way we’re enabling more women to take up senior leadership roles and promoting gender diversity within our industry. Our members are leading the way in attracting Australia’s best and brightest women from across the country to choose MedTech as the career path where they can unlock their full potential,” he added.

It’s up to all of us to #ChooseToChallenge on International Women’s Day and every day. Only when we work together, can we challenge each other to invite continued change in gender equality. When we act inclusively we all succeed. It’s a better outcome for our country, the Pharma, MedTech and Biotech sectors, and our economy.

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