Who’s on Top: The Current Leaders in Biopharma Diversity


It’s clear that diversity is on the rise in the biotech industry. From the manager level on up, more and more genders, races and orientations are being incorporated and represented in the workplace. So, who’s leading the diversity cause in the biopharma industry? For BioSpace’s recent Ideal Employer report, life sciences professionals weighed in on the topic. The companies on these two lists, one measuring diversity in leadership and the other ranking signs of progressiveness, are some of the largest and most well-known companies in the biopharma industry. Let’s take a look.

Diversity in Leadership

Although the overall numbers of female CEOs in the biotech field are still “shockingly low” according to a recent report, representing only one out of every top four managers, things are definitely shifting, and change is coming. The list below showcases the top biopharma companies that have a significant amount of diversity present among their leadership levels according to life sciences professionals who participated in the Ideal Employer survey. This could range from anything regarding low-level managers to vice presidents and members of the board.

Top Biopharma Companies with Diversity in Leadership

  1. Bayer
  2. Regeneron
  3. Thermo Fisher Scientific
  4. Biogen
  5. GlaxoSmithKline
  6. Pfizer
  7. Amgen
  8. AstraZeneca
  9. Novartis
  10. Johnson & Johnson
  11. Merck
  12. Genentech
  13. Bristol-Myers Squibb
  14. Gilead
  15. Takeda/Shire

Many of the top companies in the industry, including those well known to people who simply purchase prescription drugs at the pharmacy, have made it onto this list. This is noteworthy because they are leaders, period, in both sales and diversity. Many of the top companies listed here are those that smaller businesses look up to and aspire to pattern themselves after. So, when they see that diversity has helped keep these businesses on track for success, a trickle-down effect will occur, and those smaller ones will begin to do the same. Bayer, Pfizer, and their competitors have all benefitted from the choice to embrace diversity and will continue to support diversity among their employees.

Progressive on Issues like Diversity

It’s important to note that progressivism varies slightly from simply diversifying leadership. Generally, the companies listed below (and several are on both lists) support the idea of diversity among all their employees. They have programs in place to ensure that everyone’s ideas are heard and their differences, whether based on gender, orientation, religion, or race, are celebrated and supported. These companies, like the ones listed above, are also some of the best known in the industry.

  1. Bayer
  2. Stryker
  3. Biogen
  4. Johnson & Johnson
  5. Thermo Fisher Scientific
  6. Genentech
  7. GSK
  8. Gilead
  9. Verily
  10. Amgen
  11. Novartis
  12. Astra Zeneca
  13. Merck
  14. Takeda/Shire
  15. Vertex

It’s interesting to see that Bayer hits the top of the list in both categories. However, it’s also crucial for companies in a rapidly diversifying field to go out of their way to support all their employees. For example, taking the time to ensure that all individuals have a say on a certain procedure or method of creating new products for the industry is a truly a diverse protocol. Companies that haven’t yet reached this level of progressivism may have one or two employees of color who are often overlooked in favor of getting the opinions of the white men in the room. On the contrary, when everyone is encouraged to speak up and have their voices heard, like at the progressive companies listed here, true diversity takes shape. The industry will only grow stronger, as a result, thanks to their progressivism.

On the Other Side of the Spectrum

Despite evidence of burgeoning diversity, many people need to be aware of the fact that some companies in this particular field have not yet committed to traveling down this path. When interviewing for a job at one of them, it’s important to remember there are several questions that candidates need to ask in order to properly assess whether the company supports diversity and inclusion. Biopharma candidates, unless interviewing at one of the businesses on the previous lists, should always do their homework and be prepared to ask leading questions in their interviews. Why? Because the only way the BioPharma field will fully diversify is with the growth of companies willing to hire employees from differing backgrounds and then by fostering those differences in a comfortable workplace setting. Though seemingly subtle at times, diversity is taking root more quickly that one would think.

Back to news