Takeda: First impact-How Inclusive Leaders Help Shape Corporate Diversity and Drive Business Profitability

Executives at progressive, innovative companies know that inclusive teams bring experiences and diversity of thought that are good for business. That’s commendable, but executives at companies that do it right know that inclusive leaders drive organizational change. As a diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) thought leader, I’m drawn to companies that put aspirations into action. I’m drawn to companies whose leaders implement mechanisms to build an inclusive talent pipeline that is equitable and consistent.

I began my career as an elementary school teacher—which was an immersive DE&I experience in itself-and much of what I learned in the classroom is still relevant today in the boardroom. For more than a decade, I’ve helped global companies transform their organizational culture using data-informed DE&I strategies to advance business priorities and underrepresented leaders. Because of those experiences, I approach DE&I using a people-first lens with the belief that all leaders can develop the personal awareness and key competencies to lead inclusively. It’s important to me that those executives lead by example.

I recently joined Takeda, a global, values-based biopharmaceutical company, with a more than 240-year-old history originating in Japan, that focuses on developing and delivering life-transforming treatments in the areas of oncology, rare genetics and hematology, neuroscience, and gastroenterology and makes targeted investments in plasma-derived therapies and vaccines. I’m proud to say that I see inclusive leaders leading by example every day. As the head of DE&I for Takeda’s U.S. region, I’m responsible for leading the DE&I strategic roadmap for ~20K employees across 10 business units. One of the many things I love about Takeda is the fact that our executives know that DE&I is directly linked to good business practices and profitability. As a biopharmaceutical company, we wholeheartedly embrace and understand that clinical trial diversity, health equity and patient integrity are foundational elements of business.

Our executive team also leads authentically. Recently, I had the opportunity to dig into the difficult topic of psychological safety and code switching with our U.S. president as part of her LinkedIn series on leadership in inclusive workplaces. I appreciated the opportunity to explore the pressures, implications and realities that so many employees regularly encounter in the workplace. These uncomfortable discussions are important if organizations expect to drive meaningful change. In 2022, we launched a video series showcasing various executives talking about how they used their perceived differences to their advantage by connecting with colleagues to build relationships through shared experiences.

We also believe in developing and investing in programs that will help build inclusive skillsets in our people leaders. One of our innovative efforts is a program designed to help our hiring teams more precisely identify and select people leader candidates for director and above roles who espouse our core values around inclusive leadership.

A component that can’t be overlooked when building an inclusive mindset among leaders is addressing the needs of employees who face barriers due to accessibility. We’ve accomplished this at Takeda by engaging in active listening sessions with employee resource groups. For instance, last year we increased our focus on creating accessible meetings (virtual, in person or hybrid). A cross-functional team consisting of employees from technology and digital accessibility, DE&I, IT and our employee resource group for people with disabilities collaborated to improve inclusion to ensure employees-regardless of ability-were able to access and leverage digital technology.

On reflection, I believe that if companies want to be successful in implementing DE&I strategies that resonate and make a difference, it must be a shared goal. Corporate diversity isn’t owned by any particular group, office or person. It’s a shared ownership that begins at the top with inclusive leaders who understand how DE&I both informs and affects profit margins and corporate reputation, and who commit to building and sustaining an inclusive talent pipeline that’s equitable and consistent.



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