Going beyond Diversity

Todays’ guest blog is from Andrew Hotchkiss, President, Europe and Canada, Eli Lilly and Company.

Diversity has been a topic of discussion in large corporations for some time now. Most business leaders understand that having good diversity in the workforce is not only the right thing to do; it’s also good for business. People with different life experiences and backgrounds bring creative ideas and alternative perspectives to an organisation and this commercial value is supported by an increasing number of studies. Nowhere is this more true than in my own sector, where diversity of thought can be a huge asset to a company like Lilly as we strive to meet medical needs, discover new medicines, refine and improve our manufacturing processes, and find new and better ways of serving our customers.

Having a diverse group of talented people is not sufficient though. The value of a diverse workforce can be lost all too easily if people do not feel free to express themselves at work. This lesson came through to me loud and clear when I participated in Lilly’s European Diversity and Inclusion Summit. The focus was ‘Inclusive Leadership’. At Lilly, we believe that it is the role of our leaders to create and protect an inclusive culture where employees feel safe to bring their whole selves to work.

Reflecting back on my time at the summit, I realised this is a never ending learning curve for leaders and our leaders in the making. I learned that inclusive leadership is about listening and ensuring people can express themselves; it’s about inviting perspectives we may not agree with and listening to people who are not like us, to see them fully, and help to connect their perspectives and interests with the larger outcome we all need to achieve for our patients and customers. That’s no easy task; and one that requires ongoing support and development.

With the commitment of our Lilly leaders and the support of our European Diversity Champions we are leading the way to an ever more inclusive workplace at Lilly, which can only benefit our ultimate goal: to make life better.