COVID-19 Impact on Women in Pharma

By Jessie Robertson, VP Client Services

September 22, 2021

The COVID-19 crisis changed the way people work across industries including the pharma industry. MD Analytics teamed up with the professional association Women Leaders in Pharma to conduct a study on the impact on of COVID-19 on women who work in the pharma industry. We set out to gauge how work was impacted overall, what are the back to office expectations, what are the top post-COVID challenges foreseen and how employment status will be affected as a result.

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According to Forbes there was already a growing trend for remote work before the pandemic. There were indications that such a trend could have turned into a new norm, but only after many years. The COVID-19 crisis significantly accelerated the transition from working in an office to remote work within a couple of weeks. This left many companies and employees scrambling and because of the rapid change people had to adapt very quickly.

Of the 86 surveyed women who work in pharma, a majority said that it was easy to adapt to remote work, but about 1 in 3 mentioned that it was a difficult transition – primarily due to family management at home. The factors affecting how easy or difficult the transition was are as follows:

  • Whether employees already had a home office
  • The extent to which they were already setup with all equipment needed/ technology
  • The time previously spent commuting
  • Overall dispositions to working from home
  • The presence of kid(s) at home/ family management/ home schooling
  • The extent to which social interactions at work is important
  • Dispositions to remote meetings

Women who work in pharma expect to return, at least in part, to the office. However, most would like to see access to remote working remain, or even be extended, over the long-term. On average, women in the pharma industry would like to spend about half of their week working from home and 90% believe that full or part-time work from home is a possibility for their role. When employees eventually transition back to the office, having clear guidelines and protocols is most important to them.

Lastly, women in pharma have some advice for their employers as the industry moves into a post-pandemic era, such as:

  • Building skills for the future
  • Invest in employee retention strategies
  • Develop new ways to serve customers
  • Invest in technology
  • Improve access to remote work

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