Portrait: Takeda lives diversity

Takeda, the global biopharmaceutical company, has a history of more than 240 years rich in tradition and always characterized by further development and innovation. In Germany, however, the focus of Takeda is not only on shaping progress in the healthcare sector, but also on gender equity and diversity within the company itself. With a targeted approach, the proportion of female managers at Takeda was increased from 33 percent in 2017 to 50 percent today (August 2022).

The biopharmaceutical company Takeda from Japan has been active in Germany for over 40 years. Takeda offers more than 60 different medicines on the German market. In addition to its location in Berlin, it also maintains a production site in Oranienburg in the region – there are also locations in Singen and Constance throughout Germany. Takeda currently employs around 2,300 people in Germany – around 1,200 in the capital region. It is therefore obvious that social developments and discussions are also relevant within the company.


This includes gender equality, which in its various aspects affects society as a whole and therefore also the healthcare sector. Since 2017, Takeda has therefore dedicated itself internally to the topic of DE&I (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) – especially regarding gender equality.


As a research-based pharmaceutical company, Takeda translates scientific knowledge from research areas such as gastroenterology, oncology, rare diseases and neuroscience into innovative medicines as well as plasma-based therapies and vaccines. The fact that the career paths of women and men still differ significantly today was something Takeda wanted to tackle in a qualified and specific manner and chose a scientific approach in the form of an empirical study. To this end, the company cooperated with Prof. Dr. Christiane Funken, sociology professor at the Technical University of Berlin – a recognized expert in the field of gender sociology. She has worked on the topic in a structured and scientifically sound way within the organization. 


How do you approach equal opportunities scientifically?  

This was achieved by an empirical study on “Success factors for women in leadership positions at Takeda” (2017-2020). In addition to a data analysis, employees and managers were questioned in writing and orally. On the one hand, about the specific and perceived career conditions at Takeda in Germany and, on the other hand, about their personal career goals and expectations. The core result was that the respondents consistently have a “Modern career and life plan”, which, however, contradicts the “Traditional understanding of leadership” in the company.


Men and women experience this contradiction equally, but it leads to very different reactions. Women focus their careers primarily on technical issues and tend to describe themselves as experts. Men, on the other hand, see themselves more as generalists and often act in a strategically instrumental manner: “The main thing is a management function, no matter what.” While women’s career strategies are hesitant and reserved, men usually push their careers vigorously. The critical attitude of women is therefore clearly different from the more affirmative attitude of their male colleagues.


A tailor-made program with success

Based on these findings, Takeda has developed the tailor-made leadership development program “Women in Leadership" with Prof. Funken. A mix of scientific content, knowledge transfer, coaching, mentoring and integrated training phases supports the women in implementing their career ideas and opportunities and at the same time implements the “New Leadership” idea. This means that equal opportunities are a reality at Takeda and part of everyday business.


The success can be seen: In 2017, the proportion of female managers in the company was 33 per cent, today it is 50 per cent (August 2022). “I am convinced that diverse teams are more successful when working together. For me, it is therefore essential that we work constantly to achieve parity at all levels. The New Leadership Program not only makes a decisive contribution, but also brings a certain mindset into the organization. Colleagues want to make an active contribution to more equal opportunities through the program and they have my full support for that,” says Jean-Luc Delay, Managing Director of Takeda Germany.


The New Leadership Program “Women in Leadership” is designed to last several months and consists of two modules focusing on career orientation, communication and strategy. Initially started as a physical program, “Women in Leadership” was adapted to the digital work environment during the COVID-19 pandemic based on the “New Leadership” approaches – the participants were able to train themselves in advance in the area of digital working and performing and to develop their digital leadership skills in an even more focused way during this time. 


A total of 37 women have benefited from Takeda’s New Leadership program so far. The graduates have also founded their own alumni network to develop together and exchange inspiration.


A look at sustainable changes in the future

Much has been achieved at Takeda by means of the program until now, but working on gender equality within the company is seen as an ongoing task. One essential experience from the past five years of the program has been confirmed again and again: Long-term and sustainable change can only be achieved with the commitment and support of all employees. That is why Takeda started a series of programs at the beginning of November with men who are pursuing modern career and life plans and want to contribute to equal opportunities. 


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