Tackling the Gender Pay Gap is the “No.1 Challenge” for Women in Pharma Procurement

In the first Women in Pharma Procurement meetup it became clear that addressing the gender pay disparity is the top challenge faced by women working within the procurement function in life sciences.

Many PharmaSource members are passionate about driving a real and meaningful change for women in the workplace. In our first online Women in Pharma Procurement meetup, a panel discussed a range of challenges faced by women.

Listen to the audio podcast below for highlights from the session:

The audience poll revealed that the gender pay gap is the number one challenge that women have personally experienced, followed by ‘lack of female role models in the workplace’ and ‘feeling marginalised by or lack of empathy from male peers’.

Key Takeaways

From the debate a number of key action points were raised to address the issue including:

Affirmative Action is needed

“Nothing happens unless you take affirmative action, we end up with a gender pay gap.” said Sharmeen Lalani-Fade, Global Procurement Lead: Online Media & Data, Bayer

“We don’t talk enough about institutionalised privilege and why women are disadvantaged. The narrative is always that women need to be better. I want to amplify the voices of women. I believe that women are already great, and have so much talent. That’s quite often ignored.”

Back your employees during hiring and pay reviews

“If you don’t stick up for your own employees when you hire them and make sure it’s fair for women, then that’s our fault.” said Tanya Momtahen, VP Integrated Product Solutions. Thermo Fisher Scientific.

“When I started to pay attention to it, I started to fight a little harder in the hiring process against pressure from HR and Finance. I started to see problems and started to fix them. We can definitely do that. If you’re not realising your own bias, it’s hard to point to the bias in others.”

Salary data should be made available

“I think encouraging an open conversation about pay, and publishing pay ranges makes the topic less taboo to talk about.” said a member. “There’s a lot of stigma from old bureaucratic ways of working, and the more we can bring data to the table the better.”

Others agreed stating that ““Salary transparency very important and the data should be available.”

“We’re procurement. When negotiating with suppliers, you need to do a benchmark analysis, so why can’t we apply to our personal life as well? This data should be mandatory for every HR department, and they should give it to associates so they know how well they are actually paid.”

Ask HR for data about your employees

“We have to be smart about the ways we advocate for ourselves and show up for others.” said a member.

“Find out what level of data and transparency is HR willing to give for your team. I want to assess that for my people, and want to encourage my boss to do the same. Ask if they can you show me the data, screenshot it, flash on screen – so that I as a leader can advocate for my team.”

Build awareness of the issue

“Before you can ask questions about the data, you need to build awareness within procurement organisation.” says Sharmeen

“At Bayer we setup a DE&I procurement advocacy group, starting at the top with the support of the CPO. We created videos and awareness building throughout organisation to talk about history of feminism, the glass ceiling, and sessions to increase empathy towards women.”

“This has allowed us to look a grades and gender parity at each managerial level. It’s been very rewarding to see our inclusivity score rising in internal employee surveys.”

Thank you to Alicia Ryan, principal consultant Proxima for chairing the conversation.

Meet the Mentors

A proven method of supporting and empowering other women is through mentoring, so we are pleased to start connecting mentors and mentees through the PharmaSource platform.

In the video below, our first two Mentors talked about why they would like to share their experiences with mentees.

If you are interested in mentorship, you can contact them directly through PharmaSource:

  • Kateryna Holovnia,  Head of Procurement, Dechra Pharmaceuticals Connect here
  • Francesa Moro, Global Procurement Category & Sourcing Lead, Roche Connect here

To find out more about how to find a Mentor on PharmaSource please read our short guide to mentoring here and remember to join the Women in Pharma Procurement community group

What’s next?

We polled the audience on topics they would like to hear about in future sessions (see graph below). Given the importance of tackling the gender paygap, it’s perhaps unsurprising that the no.1 topic requested was ‘Negotiating for yourself‘. This will likely be the subject of our next meetup.

Don’t miss our next Women in Pharma Procurement meetup, taking place on 17th January 2024.

Please invite your colleagues and allies to sign up here.


The PharmaSource Podcast dives into the latest trends, challenges, and commercial opportunities shaping sourcing in Pharma and Biotech.

Every episode interviews procurement experts, researchers and innovators who share their perspectives on the essential issues you need to know about.

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