How GSK is achieving true equality in Spain

Interview with Cristina Henríquez, President & CEO, GSK Iberia and Israel, provided by the British Chamber of Commerce in Spain


What is GSK’s commitment to equality and diversity? 

Cristina Henriquez, GSK Iberia and IsraelThe corportate culture of GSK maintains the firm belief that teams containing diversity between men and women are more competitive and thorough in their execution of tasks. Therefore, since the Organic Law for Equality was passed in Spain in 2007, we have developed a ‘Corporate Equality Plan’ which presents concrete measures that establish our commitment to this matter. 

This commitment has since 2011 earned us recognition from the Minister of Health, Social Services and Equality through the award for ‘Distinguished Equality in the Workplace’, which we won in 2015 for another three-year term. For GSK this award is especially valued as it recognizes our bid to incorporate women in all professional categories (especially to increase their presence in positions of responsibility) and our efforts to encourage a balance between personal life and professional life.

What reflects our commitment to equality in all professional categories the most, is the fact that Emma Walmsley is the current Global CEO of GSK, and the first woman to occupy a presidential position in a pharmaceuticals company.


How does GSK’s commitment to equality and diversity manifest itself in Spain?

Firstly, I would like to highlight that GSK’s situation in this matter differentiates us from the global position of the Spanish market. In GSK Spain, the presence of men and women is very balanced in all professional categories: more than 53% of the company’s total workforce (more than 2,000 employees) are women and 46% occupy either managerial or middle management positions.

For GSK, diversity in the workplace does not just imply reaching an equal number of positions of responsibility, but also encouraging female presence in positions and professions that have been traditionally occupied by men. For example, in commercial teams, which is a typically masculine environment – and one in which we have managed to reverse the trend over the past few years – we have increased the number of female trade delegates from 34% in 2007 to 47% in 2017. We have achieved the same result in positions such as the Director of Manufacturing – a position which has been occupied by an outstanding businesswoman at the GSK plant in Alcalá de Henares for many years – or positions in the production chain, in which we have promoted inclusion of women through a specific programme at our plant in Aranda de Duero (Certification of Planning, Management and Implementation of maintenance and supervision of the assembly of machinery, industrial equipment and automated production lines). 

It is also fundamental to promote training and promotion of women in the labour environment, since data shows that woman obtain neither increased access to jobs, nor better job security, despite completing a longer training period. For this reason, at GSK we rely on hiring and training policies which are completely equal and guarantee the respect and promotion of equal opportunities between men and women. Thanks to these policies, we have achieved a complete balance in managerial positions, having increased the presence of women from 31% in 2007 to 51% in 2016.

For my part, I personally support the achievement of this equality through my participation in initiatives such as “Project Promotion” which endorses the Spanish Confederation of Business Organisations and the Women’s Institute, with the objective of nurturing female leadership in professional environments, in which I have been heavily involved for more than three years. 

To finish, what do you think remains to be done in terms of achieving equality?

Despite the fact that companies such as GSK strongly support equality in the workplace, the reality of the market is that inequality persists, especially in positions of responsibility. It is worth clarifying that although a company may have a high percentage of women in its workforce, that does not indicate that it has achieved equality in the workplace. The equality of opportunities implies the equal involvement of men and women across all aspects and levels of the company.

For this to happen, it is necessary to take concrete measures, outlined in plans for equality, which companies should integrate into their corporate policy. In parallel, it is fundamental to encourage projects that promote female leadership in the professional sphere, as well as collaboration between women at both an intersectional and transversal level, thus forming networks of cooperation which will lead us to a more egalitarian market.


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