As we look back on 2020, I am in awe of how much we have accomplished at Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS), especially when it comes to creating a positive environment to develop and enable female leaders across our global company. The last year was a year of significant transition for many of our colleagues, myself included, who joined BMS when it acquired Celgene in November 2019. The process of integrating Celgene into BMS gave the company a unique opportunity to take a fresh look at our values and our culture, and allowed us to make thoughtful decisions about what kind of company we wanted to create together. It has been a little more than a year since BMS began its transformation, and the company continues to evolve, bringing exciting new treatments to patients and most recently acquiring MyoKardia to expand our cardiovascular portfolio. However, what I have been most proud of is our work to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace.
In my role as an Enterprise Integration Lead at BMS, I help oversee the effort to bring together multiple business functions, and employee perspectives, foster collaboration with our global DEI team, and ensure that the company achieves financial synergy targets without losing sight of the unique cultural elements that made both BMS and Celgene great places to work. Our integration has been successful because – in addition to significant and rigorous planning – we make decisions based on a set of shared values, including a commitment to diversity and inclusion.
Commitment to Developing Female Leaders
BMS reached gender equity in 2015, and recently strengthened its commitment to diversity by committing to double the representation of Black and Hispanic executives in the U.S. and executive women globally by 2022. This is one of five company commitments that reflects the commitment to D&I globally that is core to our mission and our culture. In line with this commitment, BMS has put in place a variety of development and mentoring programs to support career advancement and leadership development for women. Additionally, supportive topics such as “Parenting in the times of a pandemic” sponsored by the BMS Network of Women (B-NOW), was created to support working women managing virtual school and other responsibilities during COVID. Opportunities such as stretch assignments, rotational programs and mentorship across functional areas unleash leadership opportunities and have resulted in greater career advancement for women in our workforce. In fact, a number of BMS’s leadership development programs offer programming specifically targeted at creating opportunities for women and underrepresented ethnic groups at various levels of the organization.
Personally, what has been most engaging and rewarding for me is the individual mentorship opportunities made available through the BMS People & Business Resource Groups (PBRGs). The PBRGs, which are a differentiated employee resource group model, are grassroots organizations focused on eight different dimensions of diversity. The PBRG model brings in employees across the globe who are passionate about advocating for diverse representation in the workplace, functional skill development, and tackling business opportunities that they may not have exposure to in their functional roles. The network gives them a unique opportunity to apply their perspectives and experiences to drive our patient-focused mission within BMS and in the communities where we live and work. Put another way, the PBRGs position BMS employees as advocates of our mission, vision and values to make our company and our communities stronger.
The Bristol Myers Squibb Network of Women (B-NOW) — one of eight People and Business Resource Groups that represent eight dimensions of diversity –- helps drive business performance by embracing gender diversity and ensures that women have equal career opportunities at BMS. As part of the Global Diversity and Inclusion team, the PBRGs help drive business outcomes, drive employee engagement, and help shape BMS culture of inclusion. In addition to the more structured programming of B-NOW, it was through working as a part of a B-NOW workstream that I had the pleasure of meeting, mentoring, and sponsoring Irena this past year. Irena was a technical CMC project manager who had many years of small molecule and biologics product development and launch experience at BMS. Through our conversations, she expressed her interest in expanding beyond technical project management, her desire for career advancement and her interest in learning new areas of the business. After discussing her interests and aspirations with her manager, together we were able to match Irena up with a cell therapy branding task force that was helping with corporate branding and the integration of the cell therapy sites under the BMS brand. I am happy to report that Irena has secured a full time role with commercial, manufacturing and R&D leadership in the cell therapy franchise, where she is stretching to develop and hone new skills, creating a new network with exciting opportunities for expanding her career growth.
Another example of the benefits of the PBRGs included the ability to help with my 12-year-old who was struggling with math through the PBRG CLIMB’s (Cultivating Leadership and Innovation for Millennials and Beyond) Tutoring Program. I had the pleasure of meeting Anjali, a pharmacist by training and a BMS clinical scientist. She was a phenomenal math tutor and also curious about my career journey and expanding her understanding of the industry. Each week, we would connect after my son’s tutoring session to discuss Anjali’s career interests. I would share my experiences and help her with expanding her network beyond clinical science and her thoughts on pursuing an MBA. The CLIMB Tutoring Program created a natural win-win relationship; me wanting to help my son’s tutor with her career aspirations and Anjali coming to my rescue, in the most challenging times of homeschooling during pandemic lockdown.
Just the Beginning
At BMS, our commitment to diversity and inclusion goes beyond gender diversity, and is inclusive of age, disability, sexual orientation and military service. In June of 2020, during the height of the pandemic and during a time of heightened racial tensions in the U.S., BMS took a strong stance in addressing the need for greater gender and racial equity. In August 2020, BMS and the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation announced an investment of $300 million over the next five years to accelerate health equity and diversity and inclusion efforts. By 2022, BMS aims to double executive representation of both African American and Hispanic employees in the U.S., as well as achieve gender parity at the executive level globally.
BMS’s commitment to diversity and inclusion has inspired my passion to play an active role in advancing a more diverse workforce. As I look ahead to 2021 and beyond, I am incredibly optimistic about what the future will hold for BMS and our female talent who work at a company where they can fully unlock their own potential. As a result, I am confident BMS will become a stronger, more diverse and more inclusive company, which in turn will be better positioned to serve our patients globally.
Soo Bang serves as BMS’s VP, Integration Management Office. In this role, she partners across the functional areas on enterprise integration programs to attract top talent, develop future leaders, and ensure that all employees can thrive in an inclusive environment that is as diverse as the communities and patients we serve. As a collaborative, passionate, strategic partner, Soo has more than 20 years of leadership experience in business strategy and development, alliance management and clinical trial management across biopharmaceutical and academic settings. Soo is a purpose driven leader, passionate about people and their development and attracting diversity of talent. She leads mentorship programs for a wide range of individuals with diverse backgrounds and ages, and her mentorship is focused on helping those who are driven to help themselves through helping others, and enabling them to discover and fulfill their aspirations and maximize their potential.