Achieving Equality in Animal Health
Five years in, WILMAH has made a notable impact on the industry.
Meggan Harris, MBA is senior director sales, East, for MWI Animal Health, and chairperson of WILMAH.
- Women in Leadership and Management in Animal Health (WILMAH) recently celebrated its 5-year anniversary. Why has industry support been important?
Harris: There are multiple reasons why it’s important that our industry supports WILMAH and other similar associations. First, that support establishes that we, as an industry, agree that it’s essential to acknowledge and talk about challenges that women face as members of the animal health space that may be unique to them. We know that there is still a significant gap for women between management and non-management roles in both opportunity and compensation. Furthermore, as in many industries, we have a broken rung between entry-level management positions and more senior or C-suite positions. McKinsey and Company noted in their 2022 Women in the Workplace study that men hold 62% of all managerial positions while women represent only 38%. Statistics like this one show us that there is still much work to be done to achieve gender parity, not only in animal health but across the global workplace.
Second, participation in WILMAH by companies within the animal health space assures their associates that they are committed to personal and career development. One of WILMAH’s four pillars is development. We offer in-person learning at our large annual conferences, virtual learning through webinars, and this year, we’ll be hosting our annual leadership summit in person for the first time!
- What is a major accomplishment of WILMAH that Vet-Advantage readers should know about?
Harris: One of our most notable accomplishments so far is completing the first-ever benchmarking study on the state of women in the animal health industry. Thanks to the companies that participated, we were able to garner blinded, industry-specific data about the status of women in our industry. How are they represented across the workforce, what does their compensation look like, and how do they feel about their value and their opportunity within their organization? This study allowed us to establish a baseline for our industry. We can’t determine if our efforts are moving us toward our goal of gender parity if we don’t know where we started. I was surprised at how large the percentages of women who don’t feel included, valued, or heard at their company were. I’ve always felt our industry is a great place to work, and the great people that I get to interact with remind me of that on a daily basis! WILMAH is proud to have completed this study to have a factual place to start and a benchmark against which to measure the progress we make together as an industry.
- What can WILMAH members look forward to in the next five years?
Harris: Our long-term vision is to achieve equality for women in animal health. We’ll continue to work on advocacy by partnering with organizations such as Integrating Women Leaders (IWL) to expand the conversation about the issues uniquely facing women, the changes that we need to make, and how we’ll actually take those steps to enact that change. We plan to repeat our benchmarking study so we can truly measure the progress that we’re making. In addition, we’ll continue to engage with this wonderful community of women and offer mentorship, education, and networking opportunities.