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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

PAIG leads parental leave, mental health, and women in leadership agenda in the Pharma industry

Health Industry Hub | July 20, 2020 |

Pharma News: In an interview with Health Industry Hub, Pharma Australia Inclusion Group (PAIG) co-chairs Lee Davelaar, Strategic Policy Manager at Pfizer, and Fiona Sheppard, Diversity & Inclusion Leader ANZ at Johnson & Johnson revealed the latest on parental leave, mental health and wellbeing, and women in leadership.

PAIG Parental Leave Agenda

In 2020, PAIG member companies reflect on last year’s discussions and the key issues that were raised including flexibility in the workplace, parental leave and pay equity. The goal is to improve employability and the Australian Pharmaceutical industry’s overall offering.

In a recent parental leave ‘power session’, PAIG member companies shared their progress since 2019, case studies and best practice examples, explored the future of parental leave based on international trends and how to measure success.

Professor Marian Baird’s recent podcast indicated that best practice reflects the removal of gender roles and cultural bias to be as inclusive as possible so that every employee in a caring role for a newborn has that opportunity to take leave.

According to Professor Baird, the Pharma industry is ‘middle of the pack’. Industries you may not expect to be leading in this role are the finance industry and the consulting industry who are offering up to 18 weeks parental leave. In the Pharma industry 12 to 14 weeks of parental leave is quite common for both parents.

PAIG member companies also explored the idea of the long-term role as a parent.

“You have a very acute need to look after your child in the early stages of their life. Then, you may have to juggle school commitments, studying for the HSC, manage children when they are sick. Beyond that, there are other roles that adults take on in their lives, such as caring for elderly parents or loved ones who are ill. PAIG is now starting to look at a more holistic approach to care which is really encouraging,” said Pfizer’s Lee Davelaar.

Measuring the success of a parental leave program is essential to improving it long-term. It was suggested that measuring the number, gender and position of the employees that are taking family leave, carers’ leave and birth leave would provide the relevant input.

PAIG Mental Health Initiative

In managing the significant mental health impact from the COVID-19 pandemic, PAIG delivered a novel mental health and wellbeing program to member companies in May/June 2020.

“The feedback that we received from PAIG member companies regarding these sessions was overwhelmingly positive. Firstly, that we actually did justice to the mental health and wellbeing subject. Secondly, the adaptation from a face to face delivery to a virtual format in line with the current COVID-19 environment was well received. It was a combination of short online sessions, podcasts, videos, self-learning and small group discussions to diversify content delivery and maximise employee engagement. The next step is for companies to implement ways to measure the success of their mental health and wellbeing initiatives,” said Johnson & Johnson’s Fiona Sheppard.

Sanofi Australia is an outstanding example of Pharma companies demonstrating leadership in this area of mental health by supporting employees through their internal programs.

Female Leadership in the Pharma Industry

As Australia moves towards economic recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, a new Australian report shows that more women on Boards and in senior leadership positions drives better company performance, greater productivity and greater profitability.

“I know from working with Melissa McGregor at Pfizer that a greater role of women in leadership roles leads to a healthier, more productive organisation. Despite women comprising 60% of the workforce across the Pharma sector, men make up 66% of the Head of Organisation roles,” said Lee Davelaar.

PAIG’s agenda to mainstream flexible working solutions for all employees, achieving and sustaining pay equity and improving parental leave experiences for working families aims to address several challenges that may lead to more females in leadership roles.

“If companies are implementing the relevant diversity and inclusion initiatives, we should start seeing a gradual shift in the right direction,” concluded Fiona Sheppard.

About Medicines Australia’s PAIG

PAIG was founded by Kirsten O’Doherty, former Vice President & General Manager of AbbVie ANZ, Melissa McGregor, former Managing Director of Pfizer ANZ and Kathy Connell, Senior Director, New Ventures of Johnson and Johnson Innovation.

PAIG member companies include MSD, Eli Lilly, AstraZeneca, Boehringer Ingelheim, Takeda, Merck, Janssen, Amgen, Roche, Astellas, BMS, Gilead, Biogen, Novo Nordisk, Novartis, Pfizer and AbbVie.


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