Each year, 8th of March is a particular day for reflecting on women’s progress in political, economic and cultural life. At Diaverum, in three of the countries where we operate, today is celebrated with national holidays – Russia, Kazakhstan and China (for women only).

There is no simple way to summarise progress: it depends on the particular societal context and is a very individual experience.

I come from a small island, the Isle of Man, that was the first nation in the world to grant women voting rights – in 1881. I’m proud of that. I attended an all-girls’ school from 3-18 and grew up with no other context than an opportunity to go to university and an assumption I would then enter the world of work and build my career. But soon enough, past university and into our professional lives, you come to realise that many of us women had a very different experience… again, everyone is an individual, everyone’s context is different, and that was my story.

International Women’s Day (IWD) is not a new concept, despite the varying progress we see around the world, across societies and businesses. It is more than a century old:

  • c. 1910 – the concept of a women’s day gains momentum with events in Denmark, Russia and the USA
  • 1917 – the march by women on 8th of March 1917 sets the trend for the date of celebration today
  • 1975 - United Nations officially recognises the International Women’s Day
  • 1996 - International Women’s Day established as an annual, worldwide celebrated theme

So, how are we doing at Diaverum, today?

We’re certainly way beyond 1996.

We are a company with operations in 24 countries that themselves are a definition of diversity. From Chile to China, Argentina to Albania, Spain to Saudi Arabia, we are operating across emerging to mature countries, each with their own context around women’s position in society. Progress and pace therefore differs widely.

Across our global footprint, statistics show us a snapshot of participation of women in Diaverum’s global workforce.

  • All staff – 70% women
  • Global Leadership Team – 36%
  • Senior Leadership team – 25% – (including the country managers of Italy, Portugal, China, Sweden)
  • Exco – 25%
  • Board – 40%

But we all know that statistics never tell the whole story.

What matters to sustain progress is the experience we each have, including: the opportunities available, the potential to be all we can be, and the culture in which we work. Whoever we are. Wherever we are from. Wherever our skills and experience lie.

I worked 24 years in the oil and gas industry, which in 1991, when I started, was very male-dominated. My first job was on the oil trading floor. It was the only work environment I knew, and I relished every moment of the experiences and opportunities there.

But arriving into Diaverum, as I did last August, it feels different.

The clarity of purpose focused towards our patients, the global mix across the leadership, the geographical diversity of our operations, the nursing-dominated workforce - all combine into a working environment that I find inspiring, balanced and personal. I feel a real sense of community, energy and commitment, creating a company with open arms not only to women but all the diversity we find in society too. That matters because we should promote diversity that is inclusive, unrestricted.

Perhaps this is because it’s the health sector: but I think it’s not just that. I think it’s something about Diaverum. It’s true care.

And, if I’m allowed to say, that fills me with pride. An organisation, with a True Care culture, where 70% of us are women... is there anything to be more proud of than caring for someone who is in need?

Let’s value it, and do more with it. It is core to who we are, how we support our patients, how we work, I have no doubt, and I have no doubt drives the successful company this is today.

This year’s theme is #choosetochallenge.

Today, for IWD21, let’s #choosetochallenge by thinking about diversity in all its forms, not just demographics. And the best way to do that is through inclusion – ideas and talent are everywhere. We know not everyone has had the same opportunities, but we also know everyone has a brilliance. Let’s work to bring it out of each and every one of us, for the good of all.


Kirsty Bashforth
Chief People and Communications Officer