“I can't ask others to empower these diversity programs if I don't do that at the senior management level”
A kaleidoscope of ideas and perspectives helps create a stronger Teva, able to meet the needs of our patients and stakeholders. Closing the gender gap and supporting top-level female talent is one way to work towards that goal.
When Vanina Faillace began working at Teva in Argentina, she was surprised to find that the majority of the members of the senior management team were women.
"In my previous job, the people who were reporting to me were women, but the management team was mainly men. We were very few women reporting directly to the General Manager (GM)," says Vanina, Sales and Marketing Director for Teva Argentina. "This is the first time I've worked in a team with so much inclusion and diversity."
Juan Meli, Country GM for Teva Argentina and Uruguay, firmly believes that having a diverse leadership team is critical for a company's success. “It is inside that diverse environment that you have to have gender balance in place. The very fact that the team is diverse raises the bar. Usually, diversity and gender balance give you enhanced collaboration, different perspectives, a wider talent pool, a better understanding of market trends and customer needs.”
As site GM for Teva Argentina, Gimena Urday is on the senior leadership team with Juan and Vanina. She notes that it is both unusual to have so many women in the management team and for women to be in manufacturing roles. Yet, that has not precluded her advancement at Teva.
"It is not common for a site GM to be a woman, and I'm appreciative to Teva for the opportunity,” says Gimena. “In all my years at Teva, there were never any limitations for me as a woman. It's clear to me that within Teva, progress is not limited to gender, but based on people’s capacity regardless of gender,” she continues. And Gimena should know, as she’s been with the company for 22 years. "In this team particularly, the people work together very well."
Vanina notes that she sees a big difference in the working environment between her previous positions and her current role at Teva. "I'm 100% confident that the leadership structure makes a difference in decision making, absolutely. Especially when it comes to innovation and breaking patterns.
“Women are often judged when they speak up and now working with Juan and my colleagues, there are a lot of open discussions and people are respectful of each other. The ability to work with this kind of diverse team makes everything easier, with more transparent conversations that are assertive and to the point. As opposed to other experiences I've seen, here at Teva, you don't have to justify yourself all the time. You're not questioned and judged all the time."
Despite being trailblazers in their fields, Gimena and Vanina believe that it is natural to expect to have more women in leadership positions in future, and that there is a generational shift toward more gender balance at higher levels. Both Vanina and Gimena agree that what's important is being listened to and promoted because of skills and talent.
"For me, first of all, I don't differentiate between men and women. I've always been in production. It's a predominantly male arena and yet I can stand in this area very well. I always have the respect of the men and the women. So for me, it's not an issue whether you are male or female," Gimena explains.
Juan believes it is critical to lead this transformation by example. "What we try and achieve in the Argentina organization is to walk the talk. I can't ask others to empower these diversity programs if I don't do that at the senior management level,” he says. "It almost seems old-fashioned to talk about gender. It should be equal opportunity for everyone – a gender blind environment - focused on your talent, but that doesn't mean that today we don't need to keep pushing, and I'm happy to be part of this transformation."
Being part of a more balanced team has made Vanina more conscious of some of the issues involved, especially in having women's voices heard. "You can really tell the difference between 'it's cool to talk about inclusion and diversity' and actually living it. Having Juan on board, and his execution of these ideas, and thinking of inclusion – not just women but also other under-represented groups– all working together - only happens when the leadership cascades this message and really executes towards this goal.
“Having senior management on board is crucial for real and fast execution,” she continues. “We're not a number, it should be natural to have women in these positions. It shouldn't be a figure in a presentation deck. Including women is something that really makes it better for the company."
"I started working in pharma when I was 17 and very few leaders were female, so the few female leaders that were there were a great inspiration to my life," says Vanina. "Women in leadership positions were a great inspiration for me and I hope I can be one too for future employees."