Bristol-Myers Squibb: Dedicated to Women's Advancement
Dedicated to Women’s Advancement

Holly Tyson, senior director,
Human Resources and Learning
& Development, participates in
Bristol-Myers Squibb's
executive mentoring program.

March 19, 2009
The National Association for Female Executives named Bristol-Myers Squibb to its 2009 list of Top 50 Companies for Executive Women. This marks the seventh straight year the company earned this honor.

To make the list, companies must have at least two women on the board and track gender in executive-level jobs, including the percentage of women who are direct reports to CEOs, running major divisions or managing country operations.

“We are glad to be recognized again as one of the best companies for executive women,” says Bristol-Myers Squibb Chairman and CEO Jim Cornelius.

“Our enduring record for recruiting and retaining top talent speaks for itself,” he says. “Last year, we limited voluntary turnover, including on our Board of Directors and on our Management Council of senior-level officers.”

“Our commitment to diversity and inclusion is good for the company and good for business,” Cornelius says. “Diversity of thought and perspective is critical to our success as a next-generation BioPharma leader.”

In determining its top companies, NAFE places specific emphasis on the number of women running the business-of-the-business, jobs with profit-and-loss responsibility. According to a joint Columbia University/University of Maryland study, “greater female representation in senior management positions leads to … better quality and performance;” and a McKinsey study titled “Women Matter” reports that companies with the most women senior executives and board members perform best.

“NAFE applauds the strides taken by our top companies, and urges further action across the board,” says Betty Spence, NAFE president. “It’s essential that companies realize that workplace equality is more than a moral obligation—it’s a fiscal one. Currently, women hold less than 10 percent of the jobs responsible for profit-and-loss at our largest corporations, with an alarming 19 percent decline in recent years. Those companies with women running operations and making major decisions will have a significant competitive advantage.”

Bristol-Myers Squibb takes several steps to ensure that women have equal opportunities to advance and excel in their careers. For example, structured mentoring programs link high potential women to senior leaders in the company so they develop the relationships and experience necessary to advance their careers.

The company also fosters the advancement of women into the executive ranks through a two-day program designed to share the unique strategies successful women have developed to achieve their goals. In 2008, 36 percent of Bristol-Myers Squibb’s major businesses were led by women.

The NAFE website mentions Bristol-Myers Squibb in a section titled “Playing Catch-up at the Lab, Pharmaceuticals and Health Care.”

“Women in the sciences are filling the ranks of the pharmaceutical and health care industries, where NAFE finds more innovative approaches to mentoring,” according to the NAFE website. “Two years ago, Bristol-Myers Squibb launched an executive mentoring program that matches members of the executive committee with junior level executives with whom they meet monthly; eight of this year’s 11 participants are women.”

For instance, Holly Tyson, senior director of Human Resources and Learning & Development, participates in the company’s executive mentoring program, and was matched cross-functionally with a member of the Management Council, a direct report to the CEO. “Through this program, Management Council members commit their time and passion to future leaders – and particularly female leaders – in order to share their insight and perspectives,” she says. “This mentoring program is confirmation that the company takes seriously its investment in its future leadership.”

Carol Evans, CEO of the National Association for Female Executives, adds, “Companies that have women contributing their perspective and expertise to the actual running of the business not only are the ones that will survive our economic crisis, they will emerge from it as leaders in the global economy.”

NAFE honored the top companies at a luncheon in New York City on March 18. The NAFE roundtable of senior women executives from the top companies met to discuss issues facing women executives, including the negative momentum of the economy and their role in the turnaround.

Methodology: In addition to corporate programs and policies dedicated to advancing women, NAFE measured results, examining the number of women in each company overall, in senior management and on its board of directors. NAFE drew particular attention to the number of women with profit-and-loss responsibility. To be named to the NAFE Top Companies for Executive Women, companies with a minimum of two women on the board completed a comprehensive application that focused on the number of women in senior ranks (compared to men and to the company population), including questions about the programs and policies that support women's advancement.

About NAFE: The National Association for Female Executives (NAFE), founded in 1972, serves 20,000 members nationwide in the efforts to grow their careers and their businesses. NAFE magazine publishes the annual Top Companies issue as well as quarterly online magazines. keeps members in touch with each other throughout the year. Last year I-NAFE, international counterpart of NAFE was launched in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Johannesburg, South Africa. NAFE is a division of Working Mother Media and Bonnier Corporation.


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