Novartis Pharmaceutical Corp goes all out for diversity & inclusion
These are more than "just words" at NPC. "They are ways of behaving that drive our business results," says the VP of diversity and inclusion
Novartis Pharmaceutical Corp (NPC) employs researchers, scientists and IT pros in its mission of researching, developing and marketing leading innovative prescription drugs to address important health needs.
Marilyn Priestley, VP and head of diversity and inclusion, declares that "diversity" and "inclusion" are far more than "just words" at NPC. "They are ways of behaving that drive our business results," she says. "We need to attract and retain the best talent, foster the best ideas and contributions from everyone, and build relationships with our multi-dimensional customers, suppliers and communities."
Direct involvement in a diversity and inclusion platform is the best way to integrate customer focus, collaboration and innovation into the firm's day-to-day work, she says.
"We are very proud of our progress in areas of diversity and inclusion, but we also recognize that this must be a long-term, ongoing approach. In our dynamically changing workplace and marketplace, diversity and inclusion continue to be strategic imperatives not only within our organization but externally, for our customers."
The growing importance of diversity and inclusion in NPC's marketplace and workplace spurred a decision to create a dedicated training effort. "Dimensions," a three-year curriculum, was launched in 2009. It starts with a foundation program, and continues with a series of other courses. Some are related to inclusive communication, some explore specific aspects of diversity like the generational divide, race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion/spirituality, and disabilities.
The program is capped off with a "mastery" series on leading, managing, working and/or selling in an inclusive workplace and marketplace.
The courses are designed for four target audiences, says Priestley: executives, managers, field sales and individual contributors. They use a mix of online and classroom programs, follow-up activities and reinforcement of key messages, and emphasize skill-building to promote sustainable change. All employees at every level of the organization, even the president, must take all the courses.
Diversity and inclusion are supported by a network of diversity champions throughout the organization. These include D&I councils and employee resource groups (ERGs), both of which are self-organized employee groups.
D&I councils support all the NPC sales forces as well as functional areas at the corporate office in East Hanover, NJ. Their work involves multicultural events, supplier diversity, mentoring programs, lunch-and-learn sessions, webinars and even activities for bringing children to work.
ERGs are cross-functional employee communities that come together because of shared interests, experiences and perspectives. They range from caregiver alliances, working parents networks and communities of former military personnel, to cultural exchanges based on ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and generation.
Some of the beneficial outcomes of ERGs, Priestley notes, include sharing broader perspectives and more creative solutions for business and customers; support of recruitment, retention and career development; hosting a variety of networking and mentoring activities; fostering multicultural awareness and respect among all employees; and supporting the company's community outreach and philanthropic efforts. Each ERG is sponsored by a senior exec, and all ERG activities are tracked and measured.
NPS also has a range of work/life programs. They include child and eldercare resource and referral services, alternative and flexible work arrangements, college coaching, health and insurance benefits for same or opposite sex spouses, domestic partners and children of domestic partners, leaves of absence including maternity, bereavement, parental/adoption, and family and care leave.