David Ford, Head of North America Human Resources at Sanofi, shares his perspective on how our culture of inclusion grows employee engagement
There is now a very large amount of research available, showing that companies that regard diversity and inclusion (D&I) as an integral part of their culture and a necessary part of how they deliver their business strategy enjoy higher levels of engagement from their employees. This focus on inclusion allows companies to create an environment where employees feel comfortable and confident to be themselves and to bring their full potential and talent to their work. This is the kind of environment that we strive for at Sanofi – and the kind of environment that our Employee Resource Groups (or ERGs for short) have played a big part in helping us to create and are continuing to help us improve and enhance.
I believe that how welcomed and supported a person feels in our company has a large bearing on their level of engagement. One way we encourage collegial support is through our ERGs. ERGs help shape our culture of inclusion, but on a granular level, they provide a forum for employees to connect with each other. We know when people consider joining a new company, or staying with their current company, their feeling of connectedness is important. Our ERGs are proactive in making connections in and outside of Sanofi – efforts that are contributing to our ability to attract and retain a diverse workforce.
I’m personally involved as the Executive Sponsor for two of our ERGs: Parents Connect and PRIDE Connect.
Parents Connect is now a well-established ERG and it has been great to see the growing level of participation and engagement over the years and the willingness of participants to share their stories and support with each other and help to find new ways to meet the many and varied challenges that parenthood brings.
PRIDE Connect is one of our newest ERGs, but is already a great example of the impact ERGs can have on inclusion and engagement. The group is providing a much valued voice for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community within Sanofi . Through supportive group interactions, individuals gain security and strength in being authentically themselves—their best—and not concerned about being perceived as different. At Sanofi, we are dependent on the creativity and various perspectives that each employee brings to the table. I have learned a lot in working with the PRIDE Connect team and it has been inspiring to see first-hand the positive impact of this ERG in strengthening our culture, and raising awareness of the needs of LGBT employees, patients, and customers.
What part does leadership play in engaging an employee? I think this comes down to the idea of the “relatable leader” – someone who is real, comfortable in who they are and who employees can connect with and feel confident enough to be their authentic selves around. This trait can make a big impact on a team or an entire organization. In employee surveys, communication between employees and their immediate managers is consistently identified as a top indicator of employee job satisfaction and engagement. In my experience, employees are encouraged and motivated when they work with senior leaders to whom they can relate.
Sanofi US sponsored the recent 5th annual Center for Healthcare Innovation’s Diversity, Inclusion & Life Sciences Symposium, focusing on the importance of diversity and inclusion to the life sciences. At Sanofi, we strive to generally reflect the patients we serve. We are grounded on the assumption that by doing so, we will be able to generate key insights into diverse patient and customer populations, better anticipate the needs of our patients and customers, and intentionally design outreach, marketing, education in ways that enable us to target our efforts. Many of our Sanofi US D&I Council participated in this event, some of whom shared their perspectives about D&I in their respective areas. To hear more from them and learn about the conference, click here.
Optimal employee engagement is a proven indicator of a company’s profitability, and we believe critical to our sustainability at Sanofi. Employee engagement at Sanofi is all about our people. That’s why we feel so strongly about our culture of inclusion, and giving all of our employees the opportunity to be comfortable and confident in our workplace.