Research shows that diverse teams and organizations deliver higher business results, are more innovative, and are more responsive to customer needs – all things that create a competitive advantage. Individuals with aspirations of executive leadership should utilize a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) lens as standard business practice.
At Novartis, DE&I is at the core of our inspired, curious and unbossed culture. We are committed to embedding it into the DNA of our organization, and helping shape a more inclusive society, where all people have equal opportunity to develop, grow and lead.
Some of the key leadership strategies that I have identified to incorporate DE&I into everyday practice include:
The more involved you are, the more you will be able to help drive change and foster inclusion. Leadership opportunities are available at all levels of an organization.
One way to do this is by aligning with groups within your workplace, such as Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). ERGs help shape an organization’s culture, bring a sense of belonging to associates, and can serve as advisory boards to strengthen the business approach in sales, marketing, and customer engagement for diverse populations.
With adequate funding and support for ERGs, associates can make a significant difference. For the past three years, our DE&I and public affairs teams have partnered on our Capitol Hill Day initiative, where members of our ERGs meet with members of Congress to share the work they are doing to further enhance the Novartis culture and society. Through this experience, ERG leaders have the opportunity to represent the organization externally and gain professional development and access to decision makers.
For most of my 22 years with Novartis, I worked on the commercial side of the business as a head of sales and marketing. During that time, I actively supported DE&I serving on our Executive DE&I council and leading our African Ancestry ERG
where I had the opportunity to demonstrate enterprise leadership beyond my day-to-day role. I gained experience and exposure to senior leadership that helped propel my career.
Make the connection between your organization’s purpose and DE&I – then act.
DE&I at Novartis allows us to fulfill our purpose of reimagining medicine to improve people’s lives and help address some of society’s most challenging issues. When you can make the connection between purpose and DE&I, you’ll discover more ways to create impact.
One initiative that embodies our purpose is Beacon of Hope, a 10-year, $50 million commitment in partnership with 26 Historically Black Colleges and Universities and medical schools. The initiative is designed to address the root causes of disparities in health and education, build trust in the healthcare system in underserved communities, and empower the next generation of leaders in science, healthcare, and business.
Advocate for Others.
DE&I requires a collective approach. Use your voice and influence, to ensure everyone has a seat at the table regardless of gender, ethnicity, ability, or any other difference. When you advocate for others, you create the opportunity for connection and reciprocity.
Continuously identify learning opportunities to help broaden your perspective. Maximize tools that are offered through your organization. At Novartis, our DE&I team secures internal and external experts to educate our associates, present diverse perspectives, and hold us accountable as we continue to improve and evolve. At our recent internal Disability Inclusion Summit–we learned from partners such as the National Organization on Disability, as well as Haben Girma, a human rights lawyer and the first deafblind woman to graduate from Harvard Law School.
We are more alike than different. When we focus on our common humanity and stand in solidarity with each other, we are unstoppable!