In the TV news spoof Anchorman, when the lead character, Ron Burgundy, is confronted with workplace “diversity,” he mistakenly describes it an “old, old wooden ship that was used during the Civil War era.”
A look at the directors at the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies might indicate that many of the firms are equally unenlightened—with the notable exception of Merck’s 13-member board which is led by African American and former CEO Ken Frazier and includes six women and two other Black people.
Now, French pharma giant Sanofi has taken a leading role in Europe, launching a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion board. In including outside advisors, the board is the first of its kind in the pharma industry, Sanofi says.
The new additions will serve three-year appointments on the board. They are organization psychologist and former NBA player John Amaechi, social entrepreneur Caroline Casey and DE&I pioneer Rohini Anand.
Sanofi launched its DE&I iniative in June 2021, when it set a target date of 2025 to have what it called “representative leadership.”
“These new initiatives will help us bring the outside in, so we can hear, listen and learn faster and grow stronger as we continue our DE&I journey,” CEO Paul Hudson said in a release.
The new board will monitor progress on the company’s 2025 targets. In conjunction with the effort, the Paris-based company said it is launching an Employee Resource Group (ERG) framework in which voluntary, employee-led ERGs will focus on five areas—gender, generations, pride, ability and culture and origins.
The DEI board will have 11 members, including seven from the company’s present leadership—CEO Hudson, chief people officer Natalie Bickford, geneal medicines chief Oliver Charmeil, legal chief Roy Papatheodorou, R&D chief John Reed, vaccines leader Thomas Triomphe, and diversity, culture and experience officer Raj Verma who will chair the board. A rotating ERG rep also will serve on the board.
Amaechi is the founder of APS Intelligence. Casey was recently named president of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness and sits on D&I boards at L’Oreal and Sky. Anand most recently was the global chief diversity officer at Sodexo.
“(This) affords me an opportunity to influence the critical need to address health care disparities globally,” Anand said in the announcement. “With my experience in leading global DE&I transformations, I am motivated to support Sanofi as it seeks to foster an equitable and inclusive culture.”
By Kevin Dunleavy
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