How women can empower themselves to close biopharma's gender pay gap

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L to R: Amy Turnquist, Meghan Rivera, Ericka Higgins-Tothe, and Vidya Raman

Businesses and governments are only just beginning to address the gender pay gap. But even with the increasing government legislation and transparency from companies, the pay gap could still take more than 50 years to close, according to the Institute for Women's Policy.
 
In the meantime, women must step up and address the pay disparity in their own lives, a reframing, perhaps, from the pre-#MeToo era, when women often had to rely on someone else to do this for them. Panelists at MM&M's Hall of Femme event in New York discussed how women should show their worth and advocate for pay equity in their own careers.
 
One method is deceptively simple: Directly ask for more money. And one way to make that conversation easier is by understanding your worth.
 
“We should not focus on what someone else might be making, and instead make a commitment to understand what your worth is in the marketplace,” said Amy Turnquist, EVP of sales at eHealthcare Solutions.
 
Turnquist suggested joining professional organizations and knowing applicable state laws related to pay discrimination, as ways ofhelping women understand their worth and ultimately negotiating a better salary.
 
One area women can show it by expressing natural empathy, panelists suggested. Empathy is not only useful for dealing with colleagues in the workplace, it can help women be better leaders and better relate to their customers or patients.
 
“Empathy is relating to your audience and being authentic,” explained Ericka Higgins-Tothe, senior director of omni-channel marketing at Novo Nordisk. “It helped me as a leader within my team to help make connections and deal with people on a one-on-one basis. It helped me driving connections across the company, putting yourself in their shoes and finding out what matters to them. Empathy helps with your customers and better understanding them, and that elevates us as marketers overall.”
 
With the industry's focus on being patient-centric and focused on the patient journey, being able to empathize with patients when developing a campaign or bringing a drug to market is a huge benefit for marketers.
 
The panelists also encouraged women to seek out mentors and sponsors, develop their personal brand, and build relationships with their network.
 
While mentors are good for helping guide one's career, the panel said what can be more important is finding a sponsor, someone to advocate for you after you've left the room.
 
“You have to do your part,” said Vidya Raman, an advisor to healthcare systems and startups. “It's the brand you want to leave behind when the door is shut. What are they saying about you, so that the sponsor in the room can make a case [for you]. You still have to do your part.”
 
Ultimately, building relationships, finding advocates, as well as knowing and showing your worth can help women build their own careers, but the panelists also urged women to do the same for others, either helping out other women earlier in their careers or advocating for a colleague.
 
“It all goes back to empathy again and ties back to relationships,” Rivera said. “As female leader, or any leader, one of the things I challenge people to do is find the people in the room who might not be saying anything and try to tease that out. Just a simple, ‘So-and-so, what do you think?' can empower somebody to find that voice.”

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