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Impactful Gender Equity Workplace Initiatives Earn Recognition for AstraZeneca and Parexel from the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association

2023 HBA ACE Winners

AbelsonTaylor Group and Ontario Bioscience Innovation Organization Also Honored

Chicago, IL (08 November 2023) — The Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA) today recognized companies for their distinguished commitment to creating and implementing initiatives that deliver impactful outcomes designed to close the gender gap in the healthcare ecosystem. The awards were presented at the HBA Annual Conference in Chicago. 

AstraZeneca and Parexel received HBA’s Advancement. Commitment. Engagement. (ACE) Award that recognizes results-oriented initiatives fostered by companies committed to ensuring that gender equity and leadership opportunities for women are part of their organizational DNA. A panel of healthcare leaders selects recipients for their excellence in advancing their female talent and removing the systemic barriers preventing timely progress to parity. Award criteria includes measurable results, business performance, stewardship, execution, and sustainability. 

“The HBA is extremely honored to showcase and celebrate AstraZeneca and Parexel – this year’s ACE Award recipients – for their impactful, salient, and measurable initiatives that have created effectual gender-equitable business practices and corporate cultures,” said Mary Stutts, CEO, HBA. “Additionally, the judges were so impressed with the early work of the AbelsonTaylor Group and the Ontario Bioscience Innovation Organization (OBIO®) that these programs are the first-ever to be celebrated with our Aspire and Honorable Mention honors.” 

AstraZeneca, a global, science-led, patient-focused pharmaceutical company dedicated to transforming the future of healthcare by unlocking the power of what science can do for people, society, and the planet, was recognized for its “Diversity by Design” initiative. “Diversity by Design” is centered on the uniqueness of a person, moving from traditional gender or single lens to an intersectional approach considering neurodiversity, ethnicity, educational background, LGBTQIA, learning preferences, or different learning modalities. 

“Diversity by Design” is making a direct impact on AstraZeneca’s drive to harness different perspectives, talents, and ideas, as well as ensuring that employees reflect the diversity of the communities in which they operate and the patients they help. As a result, the initiative has enhanced the company’s competitive edge by embracing innovation, developing different learning experiences, and leveraging technology like artificial intelligence avatars. 

AstraZeneca has identified the areas of retention, performance, and promotion to measure the impact of employees who identify as women and who are from geographically diverse countries of origin. A snapshot of data from 2020-2022 indicates: 

  • Participant and line manager assessment on behavioral change showed improvement of up to 27 percent compared to an external benchmark — this is 57 percent better than external individuals working on similar development goals. 
  • 31 percent of participants were promoted within 12 months of involvement compared to 15 percent of similar peers. 

Parexel, among the world’s largest clinical research organizations with a team of more than 21,000 global professionals working in partnership with biopharmaceutical leaders, emerging innovators, and sites worldwide to design and deliver clinical trials, received the platinum ACE Award for its business initiative, “Priority: Advancing Women in Leadership.” 

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Launched in 2013, the initiative has been extremely successful in building the senior ranks of women at Parexel from director to vice president across its global workforce. Notable impact has been demonstrated in the organization’s bottom line and has supported the advancement of sales, improved financial performance, increased retention, and gender equity. 

Critical to the success of women leaders within the company has been the cross-gender partnership of women and men through Parexel’s Change Makers program. Hundreds of men and women from around the globe have participated in these sessions to promote a genderequitable culture in support of a business where all can thrive. 

As a result of these initiatives, Parexel has experienced a marked increase in the share of women represented among its global leadership: 

  • Women VPs and above increased 13.9 percentage points, from 33.5 percent in 2014 to 47.4 percent in 2023.
  • 18.9 percent of U.S. women VPs and above are women of color — up from 8.6 percent in 2014 — an increase of 10.4 percentage points. 

A new honor to the ACE Awards lineup — the ACE Aspire Award — was presented to the AbelsonTaylor Group in recognition of its “Psychological Safety Initiative: Advancing DE&I.” 

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The ACE Aspire Award honors innovative, early-stage programs which are built on solid strategies, metrics, and ideas valuable to the healthcare ecosystem. AbelsonTaylor Group already sets a workforce gold standard with nearly two thirds of its staff comprised of women (64 percent). Over half of its female employees (52 percent) have VP titles or higher, and 55 percent of AbelsonTaylor Group's executive committee are women. 

The “Psychological Safety Initiative” supports the agency’s business objectives by offering a culture described as a “sanctuary of inclusion and an incubator of innovation,” which is key for women in the workplace. The initiative also set out to enhance a competitive edge in key areas such as workplace satisfaction, employee engagement, and growth in recruitment and retention. Early results reveal an exceptionally positive psychological safety score of a 4 out of 5 and 89 percent of staff feel they work productively in the current environment. 

The “Women in Health Initiative (WiHI)” submitted by the Ontario Bioscience Innovation Organization (OBIO®) drew favorable reviews from the judges who for the first time awarded an Honorable Mention to a program. 

The OBIO® “Women in Health Initiative,” supported by the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), was designed to increase the participation and advancement of women in the health sciences sector in Ontario. Through a combination of on-the-job experiential learning, immersive training programs, and financial support, WiHI supports women entering and advancing their careers. 

Within just one year of the program launch, results are impressive with more than 600 women connecting through WiHI networking events, and 175 women supported through WiHI training and workshops. In addition, 156 women were provided with financial support for on-the-job experiential learning and grants and eight women were recognized for their outstanding leadership and contributions to women in the health sciences ecosystem. 

The companies and initiatives recognized with this year’s awards join an elite group of organizations committed to fostering programs that deliver impactful and measurable results for industry women. Throughout the year, the award-winning initiatives are highlighted across HBA’s extensive network. A list of previous ACE Award recipients is available here

About the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association 

The Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA) is a global organization dedicated to furthering the advancement and impact of women in the business of healthcare. With representation in countries across the globe, the HBA serves a community of more than 75,000 individuals and 180 Corporate Partners. The HBA provides networking forums to build relationships; knowledge sharing and access to thought leaders to broaden perspective; educational programs to develop leadership skills; and high-profile industry recognition of outstanding women and companies to promote visibility of their achievements.