Diversity in medtech: Just 21% of executive roles are held by women

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Source: Medical Design & Outsourcing

The prevalence of women in corporate leadership positions within the medical device industry remains low, and the rate of increase is stagnant despite new initiatives to increase diversity in the industry.

Just 21% of top executives at the world’s 100 world’s biggest medical device companies are women, according to an analysis of Medical Design & Outsourcing‘s annual Big 100 breakdown of the top revenue-generating medical device companies in the world.

The analysis involved seeing who shows up on the leadership pages on the corporations’ websites. While the overall number of women executives on such pages is up 1 percentage point from 2020, the average percentage of women in medtech companies’ top executive ranks remained unchanged from last year at 19%.

“The medtech workforce must mirror the patients we serve if we are going to succeed in delivering innovative technology to populations who need it,” AdvaMed Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer Jen Brearey told Medical Design & Outsourcing.

“As an example, the CDC lists the leading cause of death for women as heart disease, yet despite a robust pipeline of female medical students, females only make up 13% of the adult cardiologist population. With our industry developing innovative solutions in this space and directly interfacing with patients and physicians, a representative female sales force and R&D team has the potential to make a meaningful difference in patient outcomes,” said Breary, who is also executive director for AdvaMed’s inclusion diversity programs, which include AdvaMed Advance and AdvaMed’s Women’s Executive Network.

Of the 963 executive roles in medtech companies this year, 204 were held by women, with an average composition of 19%. More than a dozen of the companies listed no women executives on their websites, down slightly from 2020.

The leading women at the 100 largest medical device companies in the world have titles that break down into the following roles: 48 human resources; 40 finance; 39 divisional presidents; 36 regulatory affairs; 21 legal; 12 medical or clinical; 11 information and technology; 10 communications or public affairs; eight marketing; eight corporate secretaries; two manufacturing; two chiefs of staff and one in charge of R&D.

Four companies on the list have a female CEO, reflecting no change from the year prior: B. Braun Melsungen, GN Hearing, Insulet and Paul Hartmann. Within those four companies, women hold an above-average percentage of executive roles: 33% at both B. Braun Melsungen and GN Hearing, 30% at Insulet and 20% at Paul Hartmann.

The company with the highest percentage of executive roles held by women is Hillrom, where nine out of 17 executives (53%) are women. Baxter is in the process of acquiring Hillrom for roughly $12.4 billion.

Thirteen of the companies listed no women in executive roles, while 21 companies had only one female executive. The remaining firms had at least one woman in an executive role, and Baxter leads that subset with 12 women executives, up one from the year prior.

The following companies listed no women in the leadership sections of their websites:

  • Surgalign (0/10)
  • Nihon Kohden (0/7)
  • Bruker (0/6)
  • Dräger (0/5)
  • Masimo (0/5)
  • Agfa-Gevaert (0/5)
  • Nikkiso (0/5)
  • Carl Zeiss Meditec (0/3)
  • Medacta (0/3)
  • Medline Industries (0/3)
  • Ambu (0/2)
  • Demant (0/2)
  • Nipro (0/1)

The top 20 medical device companies have a slightly higher number of women in top executive roles than the rest of the list. Women account for 25% of leadership roles within the top revenue generators, which include medtech giants like Medtronic, Stryker, Abbott and Boston Scientific. Ranking the lowest in the top 20 was Medline Industries with no women executives and Henry Schein and Owens & Minor with 13% of their executive roles being held by women. The average composition within those companies is also slightly above-average with women in 23% of executive roles.

“The medical device industry is full of women and men striving to make a better world through health technology. There’s been no better example of the virtue of this mission-driven industry than its performance during the COVID-19 pandemic,” MassMedic president Brian Johnson said.

“However, like many industries, there is a persistent disparity in gender equality in the executive suites of our industry, despite recent gains and heightened attention to the issue,” he said. “While many companies have done a commendable job of nurturing and promoting women to the highest offices, the only way to truly improve gender equality in the executive suite, as an industry, is to benchmark, set goals and execute relentlessly on creating an environment where women feel they have allies and have their voices heard.”

A note on our methodology: We use each company’s leadership/management pages on their website to count top executives at each company. We do not include directors and board members in the mix.

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