Challenge Model Practice
Women's Leadership Initiative (WLI)

Bayer HealthCare

Principle I: Employment and compensation

Principle IV: Management and governance

Principle VII: Leadership, transparency and accountability

2013 Challenge Submission


Bayer HealthCare is a division of Bayer AG, a global chemical and pharmaceutical company founded in Germany in 1863, best known for its original brand of aspirin. With 55,300 employees in over 100 countries, Bayer HealthCare covers four major business areas: animal health, pharmaceuticals, consumer care and medical care. The goal of the company is “to discover and manufacture innovative products that will improve human and animal health worldwide.”
Bayer HealthCare employees play a key role in driving innovation. Diversity and inclusion is an integral part of Bayer’s culture and company values, which are based on a belief that when the diverse perspectives of employees are valued and respected, employees become more committed and engaged.

“I was the group mentor for two of the WLI Peer Coaching groups, which brought together amazing groups of talented women to exchange their experiences and give each other advice in a protected environment. Through these groups, we have access to a nice repository of relevant topics and questions related to women in the workplace. In the future, I hope to see the program cascade to help more junior female talent and even open the groups to men.”
Olivia Krampe
Head of Supply Center, Bayer HealthCare

A clear example of this commitment is the Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI), which began as a grassroots effort in 2008 to support the company-wide goal of recruiting and preparing more women for top management positions by facilitating networking opportunities, educational programs and mentoring, including a year-long Peer Coaching program.

How does this model practice work?

The Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI)
The focus of the program is on self-development and personal accountability. WLI has created peer mentoring networks, individual coaching programs and other tools that encourage women to have the courageous conversations necessary to explore their core strengths and understand the behaviors and technical gaps that impede growth.

With a strong commitment from management, the Initiative focuses on developing Bayer’s top female leaders in the U.S., and eventually plans to extend the program to junior level talent.

Specific goals include:

  • Increasing opportunities for women’s leadership by providing greater development opportunities
  • Implementing mentoring, education, resources and networking activities to support women’s advancement
  • Improving job and career satisfaction levels among female leaders

Locally, the Initiative provides a professional environment for the women at Bayer in both Berkeley and Mission Bay that recognizes and supports their development as an integral part of Bayer’s corporate values.

How can I adopt this model practice in my workplace?

“As a new Bayer employee in 2010, the Women’s Leadership Initiative provided me with an early view into the impact that women in Bayer’s U.S. organization were having on the company. It was exciting to see and meet so many women leading brands, projects and key business areas.”
Chantel Mandel
Director, Public Policy & Communications, Bayer HealthCare

The Initiative offers a 12-month Peer Coaching program aimed at further supporting the development of and networking among women at Bayer HealthCare. The program is currently designed by senior executive women based at U.S. offices, and a call for applications is made annually for those interested in participating in Peer Coaching groups that meet monthly. Initiative leaders then form Peer Coaching groups, which are composed of a participant and two Group Mentors per group. Group Mentors are selected by the Initiative steering committee and executive sponsors. Group participants represent women from a mix of divisions, functions, backgrounds and levels who are in close geographic proximity. Professional development topics discussed during monthly face-to-face meetings are focused specifically on the interests of the applicants, as identified through the application process. The Initiative steering committee is constantly seeking ways to improve professional development opportunities for women employees, including the Peer Coaching program.

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