The Power of Diversity Celebrated at AstraZeneca’s 5th Annual Women’s Summit

“Leadership is surrounding yourself with others who do not think like you and bringing out the best in those people.”

“Fostering diversity does not need justification; it is simply the right thing to do.”

“Diversity fuels innovation; a team needs individuals who approach challenges differently.”  

These messages were among those heard by hundreds of our employees last month at the 5th Annual Women’s Summit held on our Gaithersburg campus. Each year the summit is open to all employees and attendance has grown significantly since its inception in 2012. More than 750 men and women from our Gaithersburg, Wilmington, Washington D.C., Frederick and Canada sites, as well as the field, joined company leaders and industry experts for the all-day event. The summit is an employee-driven grassroots effort to heighten awareness of the challenges women face in their professional lives. The goal of the summit is to provide insights and tools for navigating careers along with everyday life including family and outside interests.

This year’s theme, “Succeeding Together: The Power of Diversity,” put a spotlight on how essential diversity of thought is to our business of innovation. Keynote Speaker Dr. Pamela McCauley provided insight on the criticality of women in Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) and actions employees can take to excel in their careers. Lamenting that 52% of women leave STEM fields in their mid to late 30s, McCauley urged the audience to speak up and ask for opportunities to lead. “Ambition is not a bad word,” she said. “It means being the very best you can be with what you have.”

AstraZeneca leadership including Pascal Soriot, Executive Director and CEO; Bahija Jallal, Executive Vice President, MedImmune; Tosh Butt, Vice President, US Respiratory and several others engaged in two-way dialogues throughout the day that tackled obstacles women and other minorities often face in the workforce and how we as a company can recognize and address them.

The Women’s Summit serves as an annual opportunity to keep the lines of communication open and ensure we are continuing to proactively look for areas that need improvement. Due to the success of this event in the U.S., additional AstraZeneca sites around the world are planning Women’s Summits to help raise these issues across the entire company. AstraZeneca knows that, especially in our field, diversity of our people is a virtue and we will continue to elevate the discussion as it evolves over time.  

Bahija Jallal, Executive Vice President of MedImmune (center), was joined by Fiona Cicconi (left), Executive Vice-President, Human Resources and Pam Cheng (right), Executive Vice-President, Operations and Information Technology, in an informal question and answer session. 

Pascal Soriot, Executive Director & CEO, AstraZeneca, gave his perspective on why diversity matters in leadership and took questions from the audience. 

Tosh Butt, Vice President US Respiratory, AstraZeneca (left) joined a panel discussion on “Challenging the Paradigm: Diversity in Leadership.” Pictured right: Kimberly Ranko, Principal, Global & Americas Advisory Life Sciences Industry Sector, Ernst & Young