Geared up to action after the 2019 HBA Europe Leadership Summit 

The theme of the 2019 HBA European Leadership Summit was “Gender Parity in Action”.

More than 300 attendees came together 7-8 October in Paris to discuss ideas, share best practices and build skills to accelerate the impact and influence of women in the business of healthcare. 

The agenda was full of inspirational keynote speakers, interactive workshops and networking sessions that motivated the audience to personally drive actions and become a united force for change.

Kathrin Schoenborn-Sobolewski, regional chair of HBA Europe, opened the event by outlining the importance of building capacity to influence and drive change. She called on every attendee to learn and reflect on the action they can personally take to support gender parity.

Sharon Callahan, CEO, TBWA\WorldHealth and chief client officer at Omnicom Health, shared her advice as women of the year 2019: "What's the secret to my success? Failure. If I wouldn't fail, I wouldn't know what success is. Failure is really the best teacher." Her main advice was "lead with love".

The session continued with Claudie Haigneré, who besides being a doctor, scientist, politician and CEO, is also the first French women in space. The avid champion for women in STEM advised to think without limitations. She has shared her exceptional career path and her inspiring outlook on humanity. Her powerful statement “Dare to open the door to your dreams”, should be the theme for everyone’s career and personal development. 

The summit also included many great and tangible examples of leaders who already took action within their companies. Randall Bradford from Merck, Sandra Silvestri from Sanofi and Stefanie Nickel from Sandoz (a division of Novartis) shared their ambitions of 50/50 gender split up to the highest leadership positions in the next few years. This commitment translates into concrete action, such as ensuring a minimum number of women in every recruitment slate and in hiring panels.

First day of the summit was closed with an inspiring keynote speech from Shideh Sedgh Bina, founding partner of Insigniam, who shared her personal journey with gender parity. She encouraged the audience by her words of wisdom: “Choose to be something bigger than yourselves.”

Day two had a powerful start by Emmanuelle Quilès, president, Janssen France. She shared her impressive career path and called for an accelerated move towards gender parity: "It makes no sense just for 50% of the population to represent 37% of the GDP.” Her tweet on the event said “Gender parity in the healthcare sector is a must. A matter of social justice for better performance outcome. We have to lead the way.”

Debora Riegel, the Boda Group, addressed the feedback culture impacting women in her workshop: When women receive feedback, it is less likely to be tied to their business impact than men and it’s much more likely to be tied to their communication style. “Let’s not wait for the culture to change when we can change the climate around us.” tweeted Ingrid Marchal Gerez.

A panel discussion was next on the agenda to give a voice to the platforms that are actively driving the gender diversity topic forward. Chiara Condi, founder & president of Led by Her; Rubin Sfadj, secretary general of #JamaisSansElles; Henrike von Platen, founder & CEO of Fair Pay Lab; and Laurie Cooke, CEO of HBA shared the stories of their organizations and experiences throughout their journey.

Runa Khan, founder and ED of the NGO Friendship delivered a truly inspirational talk about her experience of setting up floating hospitals in rural Bangladesh that serve 4.2 million patients a year. Despite all adversities she encountered in her mission, she was committed to make an impactful change in her community. Her key message was to “never mistake my gentleness for weakness”.

The last panel discussion on “Technology as an Enabler to take action on diversity” included the cancer survivor Stefanie Veraghtert who built a grassroots social media movement for patient support. 

Kathrin Schoenborn-Sobolewski and Laurie Cooke, CEO of HBA, closed the summit by highlighting the importance of every individual in driving the change towards true equality. They challenged all attendees to share their commitment in paving the way to gender parity. The responses ranked from “creating a circle of trust” and “volunteer for the HBA” to “using the new connections to bring new ideas to my company” and “holding my company to account”. Common feedback was the request for transparency following the Gender Pay Gap report, which allows visibility of the pay gap in each company. The attendees left inspired and motivated to take action in addressing and closing this gap.

As Ingrid Marchal-Gerez tweeted, “We ALL have a responsibility to advance gender parity”. 

2019 HBA European Summit was an impressive event organized by voluntary effort.
Here are some of our volunteers who attended the summit:

Last but not least, we thank all the sponsors and volunteers who supported this summit.

We hope to see you in Brussels for the next European Leadership Summit in October 2020.

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