At Baxter International, inclusion is a ‘business imperative’
New grads are needed in science and engineering disciplines; internships and an engineering
development program help bring in new talent
More than half the 2009 income of Baxter International Inc came from locations outside the U.S. With cultural and ethnic differences at its locations around the world, inclusion is an important business objective.
“The term ‘diversity’ doesn’t always translate outside the U.S.,” says Karen Brown, global director for inclusion and diversity. “Using the word ‘inclusion’ makes it easier to understand outside the United States, and non-threatening to ask who is not being included.”
Baxter International has three business areas. Its BioScience business produces biotherapeutics to treat hemophilia and immune disorders, biosurgery products and vaccines. The Medication Delivery business manufactures IV solutions and associated equipment, as well as general anesthetics and critical care drugs. It provides contract manufacturing services, and drug packaging and formulation technologies. The company’s Renal business provides treatments for end-stage renal disease or irreversible kidney failure.
Baxter is actively hiring mechanical, electrical, software, materials, biomedical and computer science engineers. Healthcare backgrounds are desirable, as is experience working in a regulated environment, but new grads are also needed for entry-level jobs.
“Overall our employment levels have remained relatively stable, but we’re filling critical positions on an ongoing basis,” says Tywnia Brewton, senior manager of U.S. university relations. To recruit new science and engineering employees, Baxter has established relationships with Howard University and Florida A&M University, which includes Florida State University’s engineering program. The company works with campus chapters of NSBE, SHPE, SWE and BDPA.
Baxter offers summer internships and co-op programs to undergraduates. After graduation, new engineers enter a two-year engineering development program. Initiated two years ago, the program recently graduated ten engineers into permanent positions.
The fourteen senior executives who make up Baxter’s global inclusion council represent businesses and functions from all over the world. The council has focused on representation, communication, education and awareness, and integrating inclusion and diversity into Baxter’s core business operations.
The company’s cultural surveys, conducted every two years, assess how inclusion policies are working. Leaders also get input from quarterly town halls, mid-level meetings and global focus groups, Brown notes. Focus group contributors, from factory workers through scientists and engineers, have confirmed the importance of communication on best practices from senior leaders. “All employees need to understand what is going on and why we are doing it,” she says. “Inclusion is a business imperative for Baxter.”
Baxter’s accomplishments were recognized with a Catalyst Award in 2009, for its Building Talent Edge initiative in the Asia Pacific region. The objective of the program is to develop an equal gender balance at the management and executive levels in fourteen countries. Women in management and executive positions increased from 31 percent in 2004 to 50 percent in 2008, and four out of sixteen general managers in the area are now women. The projected five-year goals were accomplished in less than three.
“It sends a huge message to the world about the place women have in our organization,” says Brown. “We are extremely proud of the results.”
Informal affinity groups are getting company recognition in a pilot program beginning in 2010. Formal mentoring, now in its second phase of development, is also under way.
Baxter is developing talent early by reaching out to the community to adopt local schools. Students visit the company, and employees work in classrooms. They provide both practical help, like building renovation, and mentorship for students. Baxter also has initiatives under way to advance math and science education by offering teacher training in biotechnology and providing lab materials for use in the classroom.
||$12.6 billion in 2009
||Bioscience, medication delivery, renal products