Interview with: Randolph Legg, head of the U.S. pet vet business, Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health
Gender equality can only be achieved with the active participation of both women and men. In this series, HBA Fairfield County, CT highlights companies and the men in those companies, that realize this and are actively working towards advancing gender equality.
Boehringer Ingelheim U.S. Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) is a Business Resource Group committed and passionate about connecting talented and engaging BI employees to one another and to new opportunities for fulfillment, both personally and professionally. The WLI empowers women and men who support women at BI and in our local communities through development to ensure the inclusion of diverse perspectives. This includes focusing on ways members can positively affect the business through a focus on diversity and inclusion.
Randolph Legg, recently named head of the U.S. pet vet business, Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health, after 25 years in Human Pharma, is a champion of women at BI, sponsor of the WLI and has been in the industry for 27 years. He shares with us some of his perspectives on mentorship and partnership.
How did you become a sponsor with the WLI, what motivated you and why do you continue to sponsor the program?
As a father of two daughters, who are now teenagers, I became passionate about raising awareness on the importance of female leaders. As a parent, I wanted to prepare my children for the greatest opportunities as they progress through their education and into careers.
Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to explore ways to get involved to make a difference on the topic of diversity and inclusion. This enabled me to learn more about disparities of women in leadership and in compensation, which has become a personal and professional passion of mine. I have been a proud sponsor of the WLI for the past six years and been actively promoting diversity and inclusion at BI since 2009. By getting involved, I feel I can bring more awareness to others via WLI to continue to advance our focus on diversity and the overall representation of females in leadership.
How has the WLI changed and what impact has it had on BI Women and on the Business?
Due to efforts of many colleagues at BI, the Business Resource Groups (BRGs) have more structure and are nationally lead by our diversity, inclusion, culture and engagement team, including WLI. As the longest established BRG, WLI is a positive example of what a successful BRG looks like. WLI has increased awareness through providing a forum for colleagues to have the conversation and offering opportunities like speed networking, coaching and executive presence workshops to support development of women. WLI has been involved internally and externally at events, which is a great example of how BI’s BRGs are integrated into customer and business practices. Specifically, there has been an increased focus on female leaders in medicine, in partnership with external partners and diversity organizations.
How important is it for men to mentor women?
As with the HBA, the general perception is that WLI is a women-only group. However, I would like to emphasize the need to raise awareness and discuss inclusiveness across genders. At an event hosted by the National Association of Female Executives, one of the speakers thanked the men in the audience for attending but also encouraged them to do more. As I reflected back on the event it reinforced that at times, men may feel uncomfortable not knowing what to say or how to act with respect to gender disparity in leadership, however, to truly advance diversity and inclusion, men have to take an active leadership role in promoting and providing more diverse slates for every position that becomes available. We need champions who understand the value of all aspects of diversity in the workplace.
Do you have advice to men who want to mentor women?
When it comes to hesitation to join WLI or a similar group, getting involved is the first step then seek to learn more. You will find it does not take long to understand the data and to realize there is a gap that we can all be involved in closing. By actively participating, you give yourself a chance to learn and gain some new perspectives.
Regarding mentoring women, there are certain topics that a female leader can address in a unique way compared to male mentors; do not be afraid to ask for help, because there are differences in how certain topics in the workplace affect females and males. While providing perspective on various topics, I encourage my mentees to connect with multiple leaders and gather advice on how they handle challenges in their careers to get a full and diverse feedback perspective.
In closing, Randolph shares, “We are only a few generations away from very different expectations in cultural norms. We should not forget to give ourselves credit for how far we have come while also recognizing that we have more progress to make”.
We thank Randolph and Boehringer Ingelheim for the continued support and partnership towards achieving gender parity.