Accelerating focus on diversity

By | 4 minute read | August 16, 2021

In the summer of 2020, a spotlight was cast on the need for organizations to focus on racial diversity and inclusion by developing a comprehensive and systemic approach. Throughout the year, the pandemic highlighted the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color and the inequities of our health care system. Shortly after the media began reporting the disparities illustrated by COVID-19, the protests following the death of George Floyd provided an additional catalyst for companies to step back and explore the impact on their own employees, partners and customers. Many organizations discovered gaps internally and focused on the steps needed to become truly diverse, inclusive and equitable.

Takeda, a global biopharmaceutical company committed to bringing better health and a brighter future ­to people worldwide, strongly believes that it can provide the highest access to medicine for their patients through an employee population reflective of its diverse patient population and the communities it supports. In 2018, Takeda’s U.S. Business Unit (USBU) partnered with IBM Global Business Services on a journey to transform its Talent Acquisition function and provide seamless RPO support. IBM partnered with Takeda to leverage a consistent approach to diversity, equity and inclusion through training and implementation of consistent practices and processes. Building off its strong values-based culture and priorities of Patient-Trust-Reputation-Business, the USBU also responded to the evolving needs of its employees, and launched a cross-functional diversity, equity and inclusion council to identify opportunities to further enhance its DE&I efforts across the organization.

“We’ve been on a journey toward greater diversity, equity and inclusion, but recent events expedited and accelerated how the USBU looks at the issue and its impact both inside and outside our organization,” says Dominique Brewer, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Leader United States, USBU & GPLS and former Talent Acquisition Leader at Takeda. “As part of this, we realized the need to closely and consistently look at how we attract and retain talent to ensure we are building a workforce that reflects the diversity of the patients we serve.” She added, “Even more importantly, we want to make sure that diversity and inclusion is embedded into our ways of working, through our values-based culture so it becomes part of how we operate across all areas of our talent organization.”

Brewer says that following the murder of George Floyd, Takeda leveraged its strong culture and employee resource groups, called Takeda Resource Groups (TRGs), to support their employees and underrepresented talent. Partnering with its Black Leadership Council TRG, Takeda held listening sessions and conversations about systemic racism, utilizing employee feedback to inform and guide its DE&I efforts. This allowed Takeda to start the work toward healing and taking action to drive change. Since then, one of the several ways Takeda has taken steps to make progress is by partnering with community organizations to better understand the issues impacting patients in the communities they serve.

Diversity built into the fabric of the company

In January 2019, Takeda’s acquisition of Shire created a leading biopharmaceutical company with approximately 50,000 employees worldwide. With the acquisition of Shire, it was essential to integrate not only employees, but their legacy company culture, experiences and skills. Company leaders were careful to strike the delicate balance of leading integration efforts and embracing diversity to ensure employees felt included, while leveraging Takeda’s core values and honoring their Japanese heritage. Brewer says that for Takeda, this means including the values of Takeda-ism — fairness, integrity, honesty and perseverance — into their operational processes and business decisions. And ensuring all decisions are made in line with their priorities of Patient-Trust-Reputation-Business, always in that order.

During the acquisition, Takeda made a deliberate effort to blend the two companies and cultures into “One Takeda” — unified by a common culture and value system. At each decision point throughout the integration process, leaders asked themselves if the decisions they were making would connect people to the organization versus making them feel excluded.

Building on the foundation for a diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization

At the start of integration, Takeda was working with two talent acquisition teams that were responsible for delivering skills and hiring more than 1,600 positions. Brewer worked with both legacy Takeda and Shire teams to structure recruiting processes and unite teams to operate as One Takeda Talent Acquisition Team.

“As we evaluated our recruiting processes, we wanted to make sure that DE&I didn’t just fall on the diversity or recruiting team’s desk,” says Brewer. “Achieving true diversity, equity and inclusion is a concerted and collaborative effort across all functions and areas of business. Takeda is on a constant journey toward greater diversity, equity and inclusion that will continue to evolve as the world changes. We will never truly be finished. Instead, we have to actively continue to work toward the goal and adapt as the world around us continues to evolve.”

Takeda partnered with IBM Services to address the current state of their Talent Acquisition Organization — and demands of candidate market stressors within society — to meet its enhanced expectations of an inclusive and diverse talent organization. IBM worked with Takeda to develop a plan that modified Talent Acquisition behaviors, practices and procedures. After completing extensive and collaborative process mapping, IBM focused on deep training of the embedded Recruitment Process Outsourcing Talent Acquisition operating model, for the talent organization to operate as a single unit.

“IBM provided us with an unparalleled level of service, by ensuring appropriate alignment and embedding into the fabric of the Takeda team,” says Brewer. “IBM became a part of our team and, even more importantly, believed in our mission of providing better health and a brighter future. The level of partnership we felt with the IBM team was a true demonstration of how to operate inclusively.”