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How this pharma tech company has achieved a 45% female employee base: Indegene’s Journey

20 Mar 2023

ETHRWorld interacted with Bina Patil, VP - HR, Indegene, to understand their talent ecosystem in the pharmaceutical sector.

Nourishing talent is a prerequisite for a company to remain competitive in the market. To serve the purpose, companies opt for multiple employee reskilling, upskilling measures. This becomes more important when a company is dealing with pharmaceuticals, emerging biotech and medical device technology.

In this context, ETHRWorld interacted with Bina Patil, VP - HR, Indegene, to understand their talent ecosystem in the pharmaceutical sector.

Indegene is a digital-first, life sciences commercialization company. It helps pharmaceutical, emerging biotech and medical device companies develop products, and get them to market.

Employee Strength: Growing over time

In India, Indegene has 4,500 employees, and globally, its total employee number stands at 5,300. As the company grows, the number of employees is also growing at a rate of 20-25 percent on a yearly basis.

Patil said, "We have added different kinds of capabilities. Moving from the medical and commercial work that we were doing, there is a lot of digital enablement and digital work that we have moved into, and built those capabilities over the years. So, the mix of the population that we are hiring has changed over the years in the organisation."

The company currently has about 45 percent women employees. This is something that has happened by design, as women take a very active role in the pharma and life sciences side of it.

"Today, life science has also changed its avatar. You see women from pharma and life sciences also adopting technology with AI, ML that are coming into play, which is more digital in nature," Patil said.

The nature of the job that the women employees have is in the domain of medical writing, and the company finds that women are more interested in pursuing a career here. Their language capabilities and their ability to solve business problems are key aspects where women really find it interesting, because many of them are very strong from a domain point of view or scientific knowledge point of view.

"Women are also coming forward to look at the domain knowledge that they have gained and how they can combine it with technology, So, many are learning technology on the go; they're learning data science, machine learning, and other aspects, as well as managerial aspects. So, those are becoming an actual pulling factor," Patil said.

These are the factors that keep the diversity ratio nearly consistent, between 40 percent and 45 percent, at the company.

Mid-career gap: Not a big issue for the company

The average age of employees in the organisation is around 27-29 years. According to Patil, the mid-career gap was an issue before the pandemic. During that time, a lot of women went back because of marriage or childbirth.

The company has modalities of continuing to work with the women through part time work or providing consulting assignments, so they continue to stay associated with the company, and when things go well, a particular employee in need comes back and joins the company as full time.

"But today, with hybrid and virtual worlds in play, we don't see that as one of the key challenges with them. Currently, that percentage is dipping down because people are able to work from anywhere. So that's one advantage," Patil said.

Career 2.0: Re-entry to the workplace

Through the Career 2.0 initiative, if an employee has taken a break, she can come back and start working with the organisation again.

iamPOWER flagship programme for women

The programme was initiated in 2021. Since then, the company has had a continuous flow of people who have joined this programme. Employees with a minimum of six to seven years of experience are joining, and they are reaching a stage of becoming a leader or a manager.

"We take people from various groups and address specific needs of the organisation in order to build the managerial talent pool," Patil explained.

Through this programme, the company empowers women internally to take on different roles, and enhance their abilities in different ways. It has a new manager training programme in the organisation. To make it more specific, the programme contains aspects of operational management, people management, helping mentor and grow people within their own teams, building innovation in the teams, and helping people to develop the business acumen. These are some common things that have been incorporated in this initiative.

Patil said, "You really see the biological clock and the career clock pretty much clashing at one point of time, because that's where women either look at marriage, or childbirth, etc. And then also, they reach a stage where they are actually becoming a manager."

This initiative is helping women employees in the organisation deal with such situations.

Sourcing talent: Multiple ways

The source of hiring varies from banner ads, job sites, referral programmes and campus hiring, with the campus hiring being one of the key factors in the company's growth story in terms of talent.

According to Patil, medical writing is not something that is institutionalised as an option. “So, most of our hiring happens through campus, especially on the medical writing side, where there are a lot of women who join in the writing space here,” she said.

"Our hiring panel selects them, talks to them, and assesses them from a cultural point of view. Whether they're empathetic, whether they are bringing innovation as one of their key values to the company. We are a global organisation, and so, one of the key factors is also collaboration, which we look for in people, because you really need to understand the cultural nuances of different countries, and looking at how they need to really internalise that when they're playing their different roles in the job," Patil said.

HR trends

According to Patil, the pandemic has brought in a lot of learning and change, and HR has pretty much become a central focus today. “How well we are able to partner with businesses to innovate in talent acquisition, attraction and retention strategies, and also partnering with employees to see what really works for them, because today, the world has become virtual, we can work from anywhere and we are seeing a lot of hybrid models emerging. We are also moving in that same direction,” she said.

Future of work

Patil opined that a hybrid way of working is going to be the future of work, there is no need to have people come into the office on a regular basis.

"But when you come to the office and start looking at different other teams and different other managers, then you see your world of opportunities opened up. So, that is going to be one of the key factors when you're looking at the opportunities. So, a hybrid system will be something that has to be defined for each company," she concluded.

For more details, please refer to:

www.hr.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/workplace-4-0/diversity-and-inclusion/how-this-pharma-company-has-achieved-a-45-female-employee-base-indegenes-journey/98598866

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