Novartis has conceded the fight with its female employees. The Swiss drugmaker agreed to pay up to $175 million to settle a high-profile gender discrimination lawsuit, ending a battle that put Novartis managers' misbehavior in the headlines. "While we believe that there was not systemic discrimination at NPC," CEO Joe Jiminez said in a statement, "the trial revealed that some of our associates had experiences influenced by managerial behavior inconsistent with our values."
More than $150 million is set to go to the women themselves, a class of potentially 5,600 female sales reps. Another $22.5 million is earmarked for improvements to the company's treatment of women. Those changes include training, new policies, and an independent analysis of its compensation for women.
"In this settlement, Novartis establishes itself as a leader on issues for women in the workplace," Katherine Kimpel, co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs, said in a statement. "In particular, NPC is committed to substantially revising its human resources policies, revamping its personnel management systems, and strengthening its commitment to ensuring gender equality in the workplace."
The settlement comes just as Novartis was announcing a big leap in quarterly earnings. Profits grew by 19 percent to $2.42 billion, fueled by sales of its pandemic flu vaccine; growth at Sandoz, its generics division; and strong sales of the cancer drug Gleevec and newer products as the eye drug Lucentis. The company is so encouraged that it's hiking its expectations for the year, to "mid-to-high single-digit" sales growth from its previous forecast of "mid-single-digit" growth.