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GSK CEO Emma Walmsley on diversity in pharma

emma walmsley GSK
Walmsley of GlaxoSmithKline poses in this undated photograph
released in London.

Reuters via

  • GSK CEO Emma Walmsley is the first woman to lead a big
    pharmaceutical company. 
  • At an investor conference on Tuesday, she was asked
    about female leadership in the industry. She responded with how
    she thinks of her job — that is, about the company and the
    medicine it makes first, rather than about her
  • Walmsley also said there needs to be a push for more
    diversity in pharma overall, whether that be through better
    representation of race, the LGBT community, or just more

GlaxoSmithKline CEO Emma Walmsley made history in 2017,
when she became the first woman to head up a major pharmaceutical

In her first company presentation at an industry conference as
the CEO of GSK, Walmsley was asked about female leadership in the
pharmaceutical industry. She responded not by talking about
gender, but by running through how she thinks about her
responsibilities as CEO. 

“These jobs — and I’m new at it — come with an enormous privilege
and a tremendous responsibility first and foremost to do the job
that we do,” she said, elaborating that it’s all about drug
discovery, development, and distribution of the medications.
There’s also the responsibility she has to shareholders of the

“I try to define myself personally by my job to deliver on those
two things first first rather than by my gender. But I recognize
the responsibility I have as a leader, in brackets a little bit,
as a role model, because you’re just more visible whether you
like it or not, you just are more visible for that. And I have —
I want to — represent diversity in that sense.”

But, she said, gender isn’t the only thing that needs to be
better represented, pointing to the LGBT community, racial
diversity, and personality.

“You cannot be a modern employer in an industry that should be
future facing and modernizing arguably much more aggressively
than it is without being very demanding on this topic,” Walmsley
said. “I really do think the part of our trust agenda is being a
modern employer where whoever you are … you can bring the very
best version of yourself to work without fear of any kind of
inappropriate behavior.”

When it comes to leadership rolse especially, that’s important to

“We should be much more proactive about sponsoring and supporting
all types of diversity to get to the senior leadership

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