How we are championing women in the workplace and beyond

Rebekah Martin, SVP of Reward, Inclusion & Talent Acquisition, AstraZeneca, reflects on what we are doing to champion women and promote a culture of inclusion and diversity within our organisation and in society  

As a science-led company, we are passionate about inspiring and advancing the next generation of women and girls to careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). We know that unlocking innovation starts with an inclusive and diverse workplace, which is why we strive to create an environment where women are represented, valued and empowered at all levels.

Supporting women at work

We believe that we have an important role to play in ensuring women are represented in STEM. Currently 40.6% of STEM-related positions at AstraZeneca are occupied by women, and last year 54.4% of non-managerial positions are occupied by women. We offer dedicated training programmes to support and accelerate the career and personal goals of women in our company and ensure inclusion and diversity is at the heart of our recruitment process. In 2022 women made up 55.1% of new hires across our organisation, and 57.2% of total promotions were gained by women. As our company continues to grow, we are exploring ways technology can drive efficiency and remove human bias to ensure that everyone is given a fair opportunity to succeed.

It’s important that women are not only represented in the workplace but supported in their roles, too. In 2022, we signed the Wellbeing of Women Menopause Workplace Pledge, recognising the challenges employees affected by the menopause face and committing to supporting them through their menopause journey. Since then, in the UK we have partnered with Peppy, an app which gives teams access to personalised, anonymous, expert guidance, including one-to-one messaging with menopause practitioners, medical expertise, unlimited access to virtual seminars and broadcasts, and mental wellbeing support to help navigate the menopause. We also introduced our menopause support benefit in the US with Carrot last year. Carrot’s aim is to connect people with the resources they need to build community, receive clinical education, and improve access to care for menopause. The uptake exceeded expectations with 468 registrations in the first three months after launch.

Supporting women in wider society

Our inclusion and diversity strategy is not only employee focused, but patient focused, too. In 2022, we launched Olivia, a patient resource site that helps anyone impacted by ovarian cancer by giving them access to reliable information and resources to address the many challenges that come along with an ovarian cancer diagnosis.

Another way we deliver impact for society is through our Young Health Programme (YHP). The global disease prevention programme has a unique focus on young people aged 10 to 24 living in vulnerable environments and under-resourced settings around the world. As part of the YHP’s Step Up! Global Grants Programme, we awarded 80% of grants last year (totalling $160,000 USD) to projects run by women. YHP Step Up! grants aim to support youth-led non-profit organisations to create innovative solutions that address the risk factors of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) among young people in marginalised communities.

Swarnima Bhattacharya, a scholarship recipient and YHP Young Leader, is committed to the digitisation and prioritisation of women’s health in India. Since joining the YHP community, Swarnima has continued her work in the digital health field and has joined the founding team of Gytree as Chief Product Officer. Gytree is a digital platform that encourages women to prioritise their health and is one of the largest of its kind in India.

Almost 60% of working women in India quit the workforce due to health-related issues, and Gytree aims to empower women through medical consultations before sexual, menstrual, and other reproductive issues turn into major health concerns.

Watch the below video to learn about how the One Young World Scholarship helped Swarnima in her journey and hear her reflections on the importance of digital innovation for advancing inclusion and diversity in healthcare.

An inclusive and diverse workplace, where women are represented and empowered, helps to drive innovation and deliver life-changing medicine to patients. It is imperative that this conversation continues beyond International Women’s Day to actively create a society that is underpinned by a culture of belonging, where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.