Merck KGaA looks to boost women in management

Germany's Merck announced a new goal, and this one doesn't involve sales growth or new drug approvals or any of the usual metrics drugmakers use. The company wants to boost the number of women in its management ranks over the next five years, and it has hired a new diversity executive to lead the charge.

Right now, 43 percent of Merck KGaA's workforce is female. But despite various initiatives, including a mentoring program, only 22 percent of those in the management ranks are women. The numbers are even worse in the company's home territory, Germany: Only 17 percent of German management is female. The company aims to increase the numbers companywide to 25 to 30 percent, or by up to 8 percentage points, and has tapped Jennifer O'Lear, who's now head of corporate HR communications, as chief diversity officer.

"At management levels the percentage is still too low," CEO Karl-Ludwig Kley said, adding, "We must ... identify talented women early enough at an international level, [and] they need to have enough opportunities to gain experience in different markets so that they are well-rounded for higher management."

So, one of O'Lear's tasks is to find ways to promote promising women to more responsible posts earlier in their careers. But no quota-promotions here, Kley promises: "It goes against any economic sense to put women into management positions just to meet a quota," he said in a statement.

- check out Merck KGaA news release
- read the story at InPharm