Iris Beck Codner, Executive VP, Global Brand & Communications, shares her personal perspectives on work, women, and what’s next
Gloria Steinem, the American writer and activist once said: "The story of women's struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organisation but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights."
Teva is striving to be a gender-equal workplace, with women representing 47% of employees and 49% of managers globally. Ensuring women are represented at all levels of the organization is an ongoing priority for the company.
Of the 11 individuals on the Board of Directors, three (27%) are women, a notable increase since 2015, when only one woman served on the Board. With this in mind, Iris Beck Codner, Teva’s Executive Vice President, Global Brand & Communications, talks about the accomplishments as well as the challenges women face.
I don’t consider myself a woman at work
I consider myself a professional. The stereotype about how a woman should behave is brought into the work environment. I think it is irrelevant. I’m not giving myself any concessions as a woman. The only way to go about it is to be treated as a professional, regardless of your gender.
Most top executive roles are lonely
If you are a woman in an executive role, you have this other loneliness -- you are not part of the “boys’ club.” They are not inviting you in, and the girls’ club doesn’t really exist. If you feel excluded, you need to find your support mechanisms. Work on relationships which are not necessarily about the boys’ club but one-on-one relationships.
There are areas in Teva’s organization, such as the R&D side, which are very balanced
Women hold very strong positions here. It’s a very enabling department in terms of life and work.
In many cases, I had to be assertive
Even give up on politeness in order to make sure you are not compromising on your opinion or position – to be heard. The behavior may be tough, uncompromising, short and to the point in order to be efficient. These behaviors which are perfectly OK in a man are associated with aggressiveness in women.
Hard work is in my DNA
I have the stamina for long runs. It’s not about the sprint. I always set objectives for myself. There’s always a goal to be achieved. Once it has been achieved it’s important to go to the next level.
I like to keep up to date on what’s happening outside of the corporation, with respect to the industry – looking around me externally. That really informs what I would like to achieve for myself and my colleagues.
I have developed resilience
When I look back, I can’t even imagine how I managed to achieve what I did. I have the capacity to stick to my plans and overcome hurdles – to not give up and find new solutions.
Don’t be arrogant but find your own voice
I want to create the space for our team to contribute and to bring their skills, desires and passions to the table. The definition of leadership in the past was very different. I can speak for myself, as a woman I strongly believe in cooperation and collaboration. We can build on each other’s input.
Women aspire to have a great family as well as an interesting job
They can look up to me and see that this is doable. What I learned was that it is achievable over time. Not that it’s easy. At times one area of my life will take over a bigger proportion of my energy and resources. As a role model, it’s not only to show that women can reach top management but also being a mother of four amazing kids.
I need time to reflect
Time to read, time to space out and be with my family. I’m not complete unless I do all of these things. It’s very rewarding.
My job is a very important part of my self-fulfilment
I have a desire to be relevant and perhaps influential – to do something which is meaningful.
I think social media created a remarkable moment for change
This isn’t about men and women. It is about all of us. This is not a fight between men and women. It is a fight about a sub-group of predatory men who should not have been allowed to interfere with people’s ability to do their work. I’m not talking about Teva. I am talking about #metoo and the greater sense. Women began to go public with accusations and bypass the gatekeepers who traditionally buried their stories.
Women have made enough inroads today
We are now in positions of power - in the press, in corporations as well as in Hollywood. Women no longer have to play along with the boys’ club. I’m sure there is no going back. The work environment is much different from what it was like 20 years ago when I started my career. I don’t think this is the end of the phenomena but I think it is a moment of change for all of us. A big step forward.
I don’t think your career is a linear development
I think it’s about trying to expand your skills, the competencies that you grow in each and every job. Enhance your knowledge – be better than the average. Choose the area that you want to work in. Make sure to create your uniqueness in areas where you can make a difference and which are close to your heart. Do what you love. Follow your strengths.
My parents emigrated to Israel in the 1960s
The challenge was to integrate into Israeli society and the only way to do that was to make sure you were educated – to be part of the society and to excel - to blend in but also to shine out.
I have a little girl and I look at her and the world she is going into
I really hope she will choose to do something that truly fulfils her and makes her happy, where it is connected to her self-actualisation.
I am optimistic about the future
I think to some extent it will be easier for the next generation of women, as it was for me, compared to my mum. I’m proud that I have become an executive in one of the leading pharmaceutical companies. These are tough times at Teva but I am committed to doing everything in my capacity to make sure we find a path forward.