Boehringer Ingelheim casts a wide net for diverse workers
This pharmaceutical giant zeroes in on the individual in its open “me/we” workspace, where each person’s perspective, talents and needs are valued and embraced
Boehringer Ingelheim, founded in 1885 by Albert Boehringer in Ingelheim, Germany, began with fewer than thirty people who manufactured tartaric acid salts. Now, more than 125 years later, it is a global pharmaceutical enterprise that employs more than 44,000 people in fifty countries, including 12,000 in the United States.
BI focuses primarily on treatments for cardiovascular disease, respiratory diseases, diseases of the central nervous system, metabolic diseases, virological diseases and oncology.
“We have seven operating units in this country,” reports Rebecca Bowman, talent acquisition manager of the technical and manufacturing unit. “Each has its own talent acquisition manager.”
“About five percent of our workforce is in information systems,” notes Seth Feltman, talent acquisition manager of the enabling functions unit. “Most of these are strategic positions in Connecticut. We have a hub in Argentina that includes most of the more traditional, hands-on IT roles. IS is one of the more diverse areas of the company.”
Nancy Di Dia is chief diversity officer and executive director of the office of diversity, inclusion and engagement. “We’ve been working at diversity and inclusion for a long time,” she says. “It’s a journey; we have improved our representation over the years, and we continue to press on.
“We have very inclusive policies and flexible options. That attracts all groups of the population and multiple generations to our workplace.”
Diversity is geographic and demographic
Melissa Faughnan, talent acquisition manager of the pharma commercial model, or sales and marketing, unit, explains, “Most marketing positions are based in Ridgefield but sales jobs, of course, are spread across the country. We want to network more with the National Sales Network and the National Hispanic Sales Network. Both are rich in pharmaceutical experience, and we will be attending their national conferences this year.”
Boehringer Ingelheim has eight business resource groups spread across the country, says Corry Ioli, executive director of talent management and acquisition. Prism International’s Association of Diversity Councils recently recognized BI’s diversity council as one of the nation’s top twenty-five.
“The BI corporate diversity council is chaired by Paul Fonteyne, BI’s country managing director and CEO,” says Di Dia. “It represents our operating units and functions within the United States. Members ranging from administrative assistants to vice presidents are nominated for the council.
“These folks also serve as a best practices sharing group of what we’re doing in the company and learning externally. They are expected to be the diversity champions for their businesses.
“Another council is focused on better outreach to our patients and healthcare providers from a multicultural perspective,” Di Dia adds.
Student opportunities at BI
Boehringer Ingelheim’s robust intern program brings in about 100 undergrad and graduate students every summer. “Among graduates, we have R&D positions open to PhDs and some undergraduates with bachelors degrees in pharmaceutics,” says Danielle Scesa, talent acquisition manager of research, development and medicine. “We’re also looking for MBA interns to become candidates for our management rotation program.”
BI’s academic relations program has recently increased its involvement with groups like Inroads (St. Louis, MO) and Partners in Science (Vancouver, WA) as well as university events. “On the MBA side, we are heavily involved with diverse organizations like the National Black MBA Association, National Society of Hispanic MBA Association, and National Association of Asian MBAs,” Ioli says.
“A majority of our interns are women,” she reports. “Just over half of all interns are minority students.”
“Me” and “we” contributions
Boehringer Ingelheim captures its corporate vision through the mantra, “value through innovation,” and the engine that runs this is called “lead and learn.” Says Di Dia, “We stand up for what we believe in and inspire others to do the same. We find new and better ways of doing things by looking to each other and the market for knowledge and inspiration. Diversity is a key ingredient of lead and learn,” she believes.
BI is proud of its “workplace of the future” environment which includes a large, open workspace that it calls “me/we” space.
Efforts to create an engaging work environment include an on-demand shuttle, onsite day care, a credit union, a company store and more. BI also promotes healthy lifestyles through winter yoga, free flu shots and skin cancer testing. Cafeteria meals are wholesome and include low-sodium, lowfat foods.
Ioli says, “Each one of us brings our own experience, know-how, and perspective to BI. By the same token, all of us should appreciate the diversity of our people, their opinions and contributions. And all of us should leverage the diversity of our ideas by being inclusive and engaged. That helps us achieve results for our company as well as for ourselves as we grow in our careers, and ultimately for the patients whose lives we want to improve.
“Boehringer Ingelheim sees diversity as more of a thread than an initiative. Talent management and acquisition has an integrated relationship with diversity and inclusion. Our programs and partnerships are just some of what we are doing to cast a wider net for diverse talent.”
Adds Di Dia, “We are working to develop multicultural talent among women. We sent colleagues to the program at the Tuck School of Business, ‘Ascent- Leading Multicultural Women to the Top.’ We have a program for Women in Science with Smith College, and we have leadership programs for women through Women Unlimited.”
“Our success depends on being able to recruit, retain, and develop a diverse and talented workforce to serve the therapeutic needs of a diverse patient population,” says U.S. CEO Fonteyne. “That’s why our vision of ‘value through innovation,’ which depends on diversity, inclusion and employee engagement, is fundamental to our culture.”
||$17.1 billion worldwide