Highlights from our Inclusion & Diversity Conference

Though they are often grouped together as one single idea, inclusion and diversity are two separate and distinct concepts within our workplace culture at AstraZeneca. We kicked off our recent Inclusion and Diversity Conference, held for AstraZeneca employees and sponsored by our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), with a deep dive into these two terms, to examine them independently and set the stage for further exploration of related topics. While diversity is a combination of all the unique traits that make us different and similar, we see inclusion in the workplace as leveraging those perspectives to enhance the organization’s ability to fulfill its mission. 

Over the two-day event, thousands of employees on two campuses and in the field explored these topics, in addition to barriers caused by unconscious bias, skills for navigating a multi-generational workplace and cultural communications.

Day one featured resource expos, which offered information, activities and opportunities to commit to our shared vision. On day two, we heard from AstraZeneca leadership on a variety of topics, as well as Adrienne Lofton, former Senior Vice President of Global Brand Management at UnderArmour. Adrienne explained how, through her career in marketing, she helped change the narrative around women in sports and equal representation of minorities.

She shared something she often returned to throughout her professional journey: “I wondered why somebody didn’t do something about that… Then I realized that I am somebody!”

Marc Howells, Vice President, Human Resources, North America said to an auditorium of employees in Wilmington, Delaware, “Inclusion is more important than being an objective the company should engage with; it creates a sense of belonging within the organization. It creates an environment where people can bring their true selves to work, people have a sense of connection and a safe environment in which they feel they can express themselves and feel valued for who they are.”

Throughout the conference, speakers also discussed how inclusion in our company helps us serve patients in more meaningful ways. When our company is as diverse as the populations we serve and we have the most possible insight into their needs, we can make a more meaningful difference in people’s lives.

Rick R. Suarez, Vice President, U.S. Market Access, said in a panel discussion with other AstraZeneca U.S. leaders, “Diversity is the spice aisle in the grocery store. Inclusion is knowing how the spices are going to change the recipe to make it better. If you’re afraid of spice, you miss out.”

Mirella B., an AstraZeneca employee in Washington D.C., said, “This is the first time I have ever had an opportunity to participate in such an educational and empowering forum. Seeing the company's commitment to inclusion and diversity as a strategic initiative to shift the culture of the organization and maximize the diversity that employees bring to the workplace is exciting.”

Employees came away with a revitalized focus on improving and expanding our workplace culture to be open-minded and aware of the differences that make us stronger. “All In on Inclusion” was the running theme throughout all the activities, and as we look ahead beyond this conference we’re eager to implement what we’ve learned and continue identifying ways we can learn from each other and enhance the ways in which we work.