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Board Thought Leadership Series - Thea Discepola

Updated: Jul 18, 2023

To all the Women Leaders in Pharma,

I am the most recent addition to the Board of this amazing organization: Women Leaders in Pharma. I’ll share with you a few thoughts that crossed my mind when I received the call from Tamara Lovi (Vice-President of the Board and co-founder) inviting me to join.

I hesitated for just a few seconds and let me share why. By supporting the work of a female focused group, was this commitment inclusive? Did this opportunity align with my values? Would this volunteer work do justice to all the men, in both my personal and professional life, who stood by me, lifted me up, saw potential I was not yet able to see in myself, and even more importantly, loved, respected, and admired (acceptance is not enough) the fact that I was so passionate about every single role I’ve had the last 20 years? What about the men on my leadership team that I have the absolute privilege of working with every day?

After pondering these questions, the answer in my mind was a resounding YES. Not only would joining WLP pay homage to the men who have contributed to my success, it would allow me to pay it forward. We have a responsibility to extend a hand to all women who aspire to reach new career heights.

My grandparents were Italian immigrants who did not speak French or English. They were considered illiterate at that time. Like many immigrant families, the sacrifices they made to give their children and grandchildren better lives were unimaginable. “Education is freedom” was the mantra in their household and this belief applied equally to their male and female grandchildren.

In recent years, an increased understanding of the powerful effect of male allies at work and at home has led many organizations to recognize men as allies as a critical component of their gender diversity and inclusion efforts.

When I saw the social media posts on International Women’s Day #breakthebias, I reflected on the powerful influence of male allies at work and at home.

Forbes’ magazine, in a November 2019 article entitled “7 ways Men can Support Women as Allies” outlined the following:

  1. They give credit (give credit where it’s due, and tactfully interject on behalf of their colleague by pulling them into conversations and giving them opportunity to weigh in, acting as micro sponsors.)

  2. They listen to women and don’t make assumptions

  3. They call out inequality

  4. They respect women’s space and avoid using diminutives (“honey”, “dear” etc.)

  5. They share parenting duties and take parental leave

  6. They share office “housework” (i.e., note taking, getting coffee, event planning etc.)

  7. They advocate for women at work

Let’s call out behaviors that are not aligned with WLP’s mission and more importantly, let’s ensure those we promote demonstrate these behaviors. The sky is the limit for talented women who are well supported; however, it truly does take a village.

With much humility and respect to all the men AND women who continue to advocate for women leaders, I am proud to be a part of Women Leaders in Pharma.

Thea Discepola

Board member, Women Leaders in Pharma




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