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Authors: Melissa Campos, Sr. Associate and Mika Wang, Director of Special Projects and Operations
Imagine sitting in a room full of native Swahili speakers. They are talking, gesticulating at one another, and holding up colorful charts with sky-rocketing CAGRs (compound annual growth rates). The charts are, expectedly yet disappointingly, subtitled in Swahili. What’s being discussed could be of great interest to you, but you don’t speak Swahili.
“Does anyone speak English?” you ask. There’s a brief silence before the chatter picks up again. You try again. “If I could just get a translation …”
The man to your right cuts you off midsentence and says urgently to the man holding up the charts, “Is a 1,000% CAGR really possible?”
After the meeting (as you breathe a sigh of relief), your English-speaking boss stops by your desk. “Why didn’t you speak up in there? Did you see Brian’s chart? Is that growth rate in lab automation even realistic?”
Now, here are some stats on what’s behind this scenario:
Women get less airtime in group discussions.1 We are interrupted more—by both men and women2—and given less credit for our ideas.3 Women are often given less credit for successful outcomes and blamed more for failure.8 Moreover, women and men respond to recognition differently. Women often credit our accomplishments to external factors such as “getting lucky” and “help from others,” while men attribute theirs to innate qualities and skills.9 They own their success, and we undermine ours. Conversely, when women celebrate our own accomplishments, we are often penalized for self-promotion.10
The shortage of women in senior leadership roles at US companies is no secret (see figure 1).
Fig. 1 Gender Representation in the Corporate Pipeline in 2016
(Source: Women in the Workplace 2016 Report, McKinsey)
In response to this shortage, one woman at DeciBio asked not only “why?” but also “what now?” Her answer was to pitch the DeciBio partners on the idea of forming a professional women’s group at the firm. The partners wholeheartedly approved her proposal, and in December 2016, Women in Consulting was founded and funded.
About 50% of new hires at DeciBio are women. However, for women in senior roles, that percentage drops to around 33%. The overarching objective of Women in Consulting is to provide a comfortable forum where women can gain perspective on career paths, especially in biotech consulting. Understanding what it takes for women to thrive in senior leadership roles helps DeciBio retain more women executives.
Women in Consulting promotes discussion around the biases and stigmas faced by women in biotech and life science consulting. Members bring in speakers, organize workshops, and occasionally attend special events off-site, to focus on personal and career development. Recently, the group participated in a one-day workshop featuring an international business leader from Roche. In this workshop, the women walked through a goal-setting exercise and discussed workplace challenges they face as a minority in the biotech consulting industry.
Women in Consulting meets monthly or bi-monthly and includes all female consulting staff at DeciBio. The group differentiates DeciBio from other companies, where leaders may not recognize that certain employees can feel under-represented even in a company of less than 15 employees. But when insights are your business specialty, nothing escapes notice. The partners at DeciBio want to ensure that theirs is a comfortable and supportive environment for any group that may not be represented as a majority in biotech or life science consulting.
Women in Consulting is just one aspect of an inclusive culture that’s continually evolving at DeciBio. The culture is centered around core values of entrepreneurship, support, thought leadership, grit, transparency, and balance. The partners at DeciBio are quick to attribute the company’s industry success and its internal success to a spirit of collaboration and teamwork, where employees are encouraged to ask questions like, “why?” and “what now?”
Upcoming Events sponsored by Women in Consulting: