Eli Lilly and Company: Where Diversity and Inclusion Are a Business Imperative

Joy Fitzgerald, Vice President, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer pictured with Steve Fry Vice President Human Resources at Eli Lilly

As the pace of change accelerates across our global pharmaceutical industry in the face of a pandemic and other business challenges, Lilly’s culture and values provide a solid foundation from which we work to fulfil our company’s purpose of making life better for people around the world.

People from all backgrounds are critically important to ensuring we can accomplish this important purpose. We have developed a comprehensive strategic framework that prioritizes people, with diversity and inclusion as a foundation.

At Lilly, we embrace progressive workplace approaches driven by research and employee feedback, and we focus on hiring, developing and retaining top talent with a wide range of experiences and perspectives.

Our Culture and Values
Our long-standing values of integrity, excellence and respect for people reflect our concern for our many stakeholders, including patients, customers, employees, shareholders, partners, suppliers and communities.

To embody our values in our daily work, everyone at Lilly is expected to include, innovate, accelerate and deliver. Consistently modeling these behaviors is critical to our business goals.

On an individual level, embracing this approach helps employees be free to speak up, share ideas and be fully engaged in their work. We look at D&I holistically because we’re a stronger company when we have a workforce of top talent from different backgrounds—people who are respected, valued, welcomed and heard. We must look at challenges from multiple viewpoints and understand the diverse experiences of the patients who depend on us. In short, our differences make a difference—to patients and to our business.

Our rigorous, research-based approach to diversity and inclusion has yielded results and recognition, as we were proud to be one of four companies to receive the prestigious global Catalyst Award in 2019—and to have achieved the No. 3 spot on the DiversityInc organization’s Top 50 Companies for Diversity in the U.S.

Leadership Commitment
Our CEO and Executive Committee consistently state expectations for inclusive leadership and hold leaders accountable for building diverse and inclusive teams. Lilly’s senior vice president for human resources and diversity reports directly to our chairman and CEO. Our chief diversity and inclusion officer is a vice president who reports to the senior vice president.

Research is a Foundation for the Work
We approach D&I with the same rigor as other business-critical challenges. Because fostering D&I begins with understanding, we have conducted in-depth employee research—Employee Journeys—that have yielded important insights about the experience of women, African Americans, Latinx and Asians at Lilly.

This research has helped to illuminate common themes and challenges that minority employees face in their lives and in their career paths. Powerful insights from this research have led to companywide changes that are improving our corporate culture for everyone

Similar in-depth research is in progress for LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) employees and will be shared in 2020.

We also are delivering on D&I initiatives focused on people with disabilities. We’re working to improve accessibility to workplace facilities and technology for employees with visible and invisible disabilities through a multifaceted global initiative across several functions. In concert with these efforts, our employee resource groups for people with disabilities have added new programming and extended community-outreach efforts.

Turning Understanding and Empathy into Action
The Employee Journey work has helped us more fully understand the experiences of minority employees, including ways their experiences might be similar to, or different from, those of other groups. We’re using the results of this research to help improve the experience of all employees as they progress in their careers, and to further diversify Lilly’s leadership ranks.

We recognize that there is more work to do, but these initiatives are improving our culture. In our 2019 employee feedback survey, we saw improvements of 2% to 3% over the previous year on key questions related to inclusion.

Specific D&I Activities and Results
Leaders and managers at Lilly are expected to lead more inclusively by valuing differences, recognizing and overcoming bias and fostering a “speak-up” culture—where all colleagues know their ideas and contributions will be valued. Our performance management process, Pulse employee survey and direct-report surveys are ways we gauge employee feedback and hold leaders accountable.

Our commitment to D&I is a core component of how we do business—and there are many examples that this work is making a real difference. Here are some highlights:

Measuring Progress
We continue to set aspirational goals and measure our progress in diversity.

From the end of 2015 to the end of 2019, we increased the number of women in management globally from 41 percent to 45 percent. For racial and ethnic minorities and other non-majority members in the United States over that same period, we increased management representation from 18 percent to 24 percent. Across all levels of our workforce, in 2019 we saw increased representation for minorities in the United States and women globally.

Six of 15 members (40 percent) of the Executive Committee, who report directly to the CEO, are women, including one woman of color. Our 13-member board of directors includes four women (31 percent) and five members of underrepresented groups (38 percent).

Pay equity
Lilly is committed to ensuring pay equity for all employees. We comply with local legislative analyses and reporting requirements globally, and for many years, we have regularly conducted pay-equity studies in the United States. In 2017, we included the U.K. in this study, and in 2018 we broadened these efforts to include Lilly employees in Brazil, China, Ireland, Italy, Spain and the U.K.

In the 2019 U.S. pay equity analyses, as in previous years, overall results were positive with a small percentage of employees receiving an adjustment.

Understanding and Supporting Diverse Employees
• We introduced Explore Your Career, a new global framework of tools and resources, to improve our talent programs and processes. Explore Your Career ensures broader access and greater transparency about career development and advancement.

• In response to insights from our Employee Journey research, we developed Make it Safe to Thrive, an education and awareness program created to help build cultural literacy and understanding about conditions needed for employees to feel psychologically safe at work.

More than 3,000 leaders globally have participated in required live training using real-life scenarios to gain greater awareness of how unconscious bias and microaggressions can harm team cohesiveness and hurt employee engagement. The training also focuses on how leaders should address situations that might arise at work. In late 2019, we also launched online Make it Safe to Thrive training that is required for all employees. We continue to offer resources related to this program to ensure continued focus.

• We have also introduced several signature leadership development programs.

Mentorship, Sponsorship and Fostering Employee Connections
• Senior leaders have long sponsored employees who have the aspiration and ability to become future business leaders at Lilly. In 2019, we expanded focus on a sponsorship initiative that requires senior executives to guide and support the careers of diverse employees with higher potential. The number of formal sponsors grew from under 50 to about 125.

• In 2019, we unveiled a new initiative, Ask Me About My Journey, where employees are encouraged to sit down with peers who are different from themselves to learn about one another’s lives and career journeys. We provide conversation starters, and the rest is up to them.

Recruiting, Hiring and Talent Pipeline
• Since 2018, we have required hiring managers to field a diverse pool of candidates and a diverse panel of interviewers for every open position at Lilly. Hiring in this way helps ensure that people from all backgrounds have equal opportunities to further their careers. It also helps ensure that leaders look beyond their own comfort zone for the most qualified candidate available for each open role.

• Our commitment to diversity and inclusion reaches beyond our current employees. To recruit a diverse workforce, we partner with a wide range of professional associations, along with top colleges and universities. We focus on top talent from all backgrounds, with special attention to Latinx, African Americans, Asians, veterans, and individuals with disabilities in the United States, as well as women globally.

• To help develop our future talent pipeline, we have several internship programs for college students and graduate students.

Employee Resource Groups at Lilly
Membership in Lilly’s employee resource groups (ERGs) continues to grow, with an estimated 15,000 people participating worldwide. We have several corporate international ERGs representing women, LGBTQ people, early career professionals and people with disabilities. Many geographies also have local organizations.

In the United States, most of our 11 corporate ERGs based at headquarters in Indianapolis also have associated field-based organizations. Ally organizations within Lilly are especially active in supporting women and LGBTQ employees at our company. Anyone from any background can join any ERG or ally group. Their efforts are designed to improve the employee experience for everyone and to be a voice for their unique perspectives to improve our business.

About the author

Joy Fitzgerald

Joy Fitzgerald

Eli Lilly and Company, Vice President, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer

Joy Fitzgerald currently serves as Lilly’s Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer. In that role, she partners with the company’s CEO and senior executives 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 dynamic speaker and strategic thought partner, Joy has presented keynote speeches and workshops in more than 20 countries on five continents. She has more than 20 years of leadership experience in both for-profit and nonprofit organizations in several industries. She is a highly sought-after executive coach, helping leaders to fulfill their aspirations.

Joy is a popular speaker at conferences and meetings, and she gives back to the community. She has served on boards for several organizations and was named by Diversity Journal as a “Woman Worth Watching;” by Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association as a “Rising Star;” and by Black Enterprise as a Top Executive in Corporate Diversity.

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