Eli Lilly, EMD Serono and W2O Recognized for Gender Parity Initiatives by the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association | HBA

Eli Lilly, EMD Serono and W2O Recognized for Gender Parity Initiatives by the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association

The Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA) will recognize Eli Lilly and Company, EMD Serono and W2O with its 2019 ACE Awards for exemplary workplace initiatives that are working to close the gender gap and accelerate gender parity in the healthcare and life sciences industry. The awards will be presented on Tuesday, 12 November, in conjunction with HBA’s Annual Conference at the Sheraton San Diego. 

“EMD Serono’s Women in Leadership, Lilly’s Women in Leadership at Lilly and W2O’s Your Fourth Trimester® are the result of industry influencers who ‘get it,’ and their initiatives demonstrate that gender parity is not just good for women, it’s good for business and the patients and clients we serve,” said Laurie Cooke, president and CEO, HBA. “We’re proud to spotlight these successful programs that offer best practices and practical examples for other organizations to replicate.”

HBA’s Advancement, Commitment and Engagement (ACE) awards recognize companies committed to ensuring that gender diversity and leadership opportunities for women are part of their organizational DNA. Recipients of the ACE Awards are selected by an independent review panel of healthcare industry leaders for their excellence in corporate internal women’s leadership initiatives. Award criteria include measurable results, business performance, stewardship, execution and sustainability.

This year, EMD Serono’s Women in Leadership (WIL) earned recognition for accelerating an employee-initiated program that began with a conversation around gender imbalance and quickly evolved into part of a global-CEO sponsored initiative and the current healthcare strategy at Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany (EMD Serono is the biopharmaceutical business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany in the US and Canada). Since WIL’s launch, the number of women in senior leadership positions within the company’s US commercial division has more than doubled. 

Lilly’s Women’s Initiative for Leading at Lilly (WILL) garnered honors for a multi-faceted initiative that not only has helped to accelerate women into management but was foundational for a broader, more inclusive outreach to employees of diverse backgrounds. Grounded in proprietary research, programs like Lilly’s “Employee Journeys” and “People Strategy” have led to greater diversity and efforts to advance high-potential employees. In two years, women’s representation in management went from 38 percent to 44 percent. Another unique element is a strong Men as Allies program that helps support WILL. The WILL organization grew last year by 40 percent to more than 2,400 employees. 

W2O’s “Your Fourth Trimester®” initiative was selected as a 2019 ACE Awards recipient for championing an innovative workplace program to help moms and dads transition back to work after parental leave. With data demonstrating that 43 percent of women make significant career changes and 50 percent of women take lower paying jobs in a family-friendly workplace after having children, W2O recognized there was an important opportunity to support its employees during one of life’s most common transitions. With 65 percent of its leadership roles held by women, W2O is committed to cultivating a culture that supports women and working parents. “Your Fourth Trimester®” has been extremely successful, with results showing that it has helped significantly cut the attrition rate at the firm. To date, 96 percent of parents who have participated in the program have returned to work at W2O.


The 2019 ACE Awards honorees will join an elite group of organizations that are committed to realizing the full potential of their female talent pool by fostering programs that deliver impactful and measurable results. Throughout the year, the honorees’ programs are showcased across the HBA’s extensive community of healthcare and life science companies and are sought out by their peers for insights. A list of previous ACE awards recipients can be found here.

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