Highlights of HBA’s Building Better Business Connections (3BC) Executive Event - An Inclusive Mindset: Accelerating Equity, Innovation and Impact, 21 September 2020

The HBA wants to thank our co-chairs Nicola Greenway of Takeda Pharmaceuticals and Sandy Kennedy of Covance who, with the support of our virtual platform sponsor Microsoft and event sponsors Deloitte, Genentech, HashtagHealth and UCB, offered a dynamic, thought-provoking and timely program for our corporate partner executive participants.

Kicking off the presentations was Susan Childs, principal managing partner, strategic workforce and business dynamics, LCA Enterprise Limited. Here are some key takeaways Susan discussed which leveraged data from McKinsey and Boston Consulting Group:

  • The COVID-19 crisis will enable companies to find their plan in recovery, resilience and re-imagination
  • Companies who place an emphasis on Inclusion, Diversity and Equity (ID&E) outperform their peers over time in profitability
  • Gender parity improves profitability and companies with more than 30 percent women on their executive leadership teams outperform those with fewer or no female executives
  • Although progress is slow, the payoff is big for those who have shifted their focus to include, and penalties are stacking up for those who have not

Susan also discussed how the way to win through ID&E is by bold action:

  1. Ensure representation of diverse talent
  2. Strengthen leadership accountability and capability through ID&E
  3. Enable equality of opportunity through fairness and transparency
  4. Promote openness and tackle microaggressions
  5. Foster belonging through unequivocal support for multivariate diversity

Erin Clark, managing director, Deloitte, and Sophia Zeinu, human capital manager and NextGen solutions lead, DEI consulting practice, Deloitte, gave a closer look at the six traits of inclusive leaders to enable them to better connect with their workforce.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the vulnerability of our workforce. The time for inclusion is now. The shift to a virtual workplace or other new ways of working highlight the need for more inclusion, support and protection by company leadership.
3BC Co-Chair Sandy Kennedy opened the afternoon session.

Tracy Picon, senior director, business development and strategy, health and life sciences, Microsoft presented Inclusivity in Action.

Tracy began with a quote by inclusive design artist Jutta Treviranus: “Diversity is our world’s biggest asset. And inclusion is our biggest challenge.”

From Microsoft’s point of view, there’s the business case for ID&E: Spending power resides in diversity, diverse companies are more innovative and retention of diversity saves money. In geopolitical terms, 33 percent of tech jobs will go unfilled in 2020 because of talent shortages. Millennials want careers with social impact and purpose. Last, the human case, exclusion hurts. Exclusion activates a part of the brain similar to feeling pain. This can lead to increased defensiveness, lack of well-being and self-defeating behavior.

Microsoft is forging new paths to bring new talent to them. They include the LEAP Engineering Acceleration Program, Microsoft Software and Systems Academy, and disability hiring. They also have eight employee resource groups for shared life experiences and support, and 40 employee networks for those with common interests and backgrounds.

Tracy stressed the importance of allyship, curiosity, awareness and courage. She cited an example of talented tech talent on autism spectrum. The interviews were not suited to the interviewee’s needs and therefore Microsoft was deprived of their talents. Now there are procedures in place to procure this talent and help them thrive. In closing, Tracy stressed the message, “Imagine what we can do together.”

Soo Son, head, R&D operations business transformation office, GSK, introduced a video from leaders citing their examples and challenges in ID&E. An important note from Soo regarding the world of work: By 2030, China will have more graduates than the entire US workforce. The world is changing and the best way to be prepared as leaders is to build an inclusive mindset.

Participants enjoyed a fun stretch break sponsored by Genentech and continued their connection groups to discuss work cultures, applying the principles of ID&E and the urgency surrounding this imperative shift.

The last speaker of the day was Karen Dale, DC market president/CEO and chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer, AmeriHealth Caritas. Karen discussed issues such as zero mentorship, inappropriate cultural questions, no opportunities and the same or more expectation for people of color. She emphasized that ID&E is a business imperative not a project. It should be funded and staffed as such. Not only should there be changes in culture, but that should extend to continuous learning, accountability, bonus packages and initial compensation packages. She also stressed that mini- and micro-aggressions have adverse health effects. Her ultimate message was to check in with employees and practice awareness, curiosity and courage.

The day ended with a warm farewell by Laurie Cooke, president and CEO, HBA. She echoed the sentiments of the speakers regarding the awesome responsibility for ID&E and the time is now.