As a young boy coming to terms with his sexuality, our Neurology Area Business Manager in Chicago, Jake Prodoehl, felt isolated, excluded, scared, and confused. Now he has written a moving “letter to my younger self” to mark Pride Month 2021, celebrate the LGBTQ+ community and empower others to share their stories as we continue to build our culture with diversity and inclusion at its heart. 

He wrote: “From the person you hoped to be” to reassure his younger self: “Above all, please remember this: you will find the light in the dark and I’ll be with you the whole way. You matter. You are included.”

Colleagues like Jake inspire us. Not just during Pride, where millions of people globally celebrate LGBTQ+ activism across the world, but throughout the year. It is for this reason that Sanofi is reaffirming its commitment to Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) and reinvigorating its strategy, co-created in partnership with our people from different parts of the business and from countries around the world.

Working together, their insights have helped us transform our approach to D&I, creating an intentional culture shift which ensures diversity and inclusion are seamlessly woven throughout our business.

Jake is running our PridePlus employee resource group which is just one of the many employee groups focusing on helping us make sure our new strategy reaches everyone. 

Raj Verma, Chief Diversity + Experience Officer at Sanofi, says: “You don't know what you don't know, so you have to keep asking questions. It’s our personal journey through our awareness, our education and our engagement that will have a real impact.”

Following the lead of Verma, our UK D&I team, Gordon Tillett, Nicole Farmer, and Felicia Pinto reflect on how Sanofi has, and continues to make that journey in the below.

Challenging ourselves as we strive to do more

Gordon Tillett, Head of Human Resources, Sanofi UK and Ireland 

The business case for workplace diversity, including and beyond gender, sexuality, race, and ethnicity, is overwhelming. Bringing together people from different backgrounds with different experiences, ideas, and perspectives is a key driver of innovation, helping us create a Sanofi that is more resilient and effective.  

Yet, we know that whilst huge strides have been made in recent years to create a diverse and inclusive culture at Sanofi, work still needs to be done if we are to be fully representative of our people and those in the communities in which we work and serve. 

We also know that the journey to building a diverse and inclusive culture is one which has no final destination and will constantly evolve. We will stay the course, continue driving the journey forwards and will keep adapting the route whenever needed to ensure we prioritise how we represent and support our people.

In pursuit of this, we have made real progress on closing the gender pay gap in recent years which is primarily caused by us having a disproportionate number of men in senior positions. But we recently reached a major milestone with the median pay gap across our UK commercial operations (office-based employees and field teams) significantly reducing over the past three years from 15.1% in 2017 to 8.6% in 2020. Furthermore, following a recent appointment in our UK and Ireland leadership team, we are pleased that it is 50/50 male/female for the first time. 

However, though we have made huge advances around gender equality with changes to our hiring processes such as using a gender-balanced selection panel we now need to apply this same dedication and thinking to other areas of D&I. 

It will take small, continual steps from our leaders and at grassroots level to keep building a safe, equal environment where everyone feels comfortable to be themselves, to speak up, and be listened to. 

The collective changes having an impact

Nicole Farmer, General Manager of Sanofi Genzyme UK and Ireland and senior leadership D&I ambassador 

Building a truly diverse and inclusive business needs a collective approach with leaders being the role models to give others the courage to step up and step in. While business leaders play a vital role in ensuring we continue to evolve as a diverse workplace, we all have a responsibility to create a workplace that is inclusive and supporting and where we can challenge each other. 

Following Pride Month in 2020, we established our LGBTQ+Ally Network made up of individuals who champion inclusion across our business. They join allies promoting D&I in other areas including gender, race, and disability. 

In 2020 we had a highly energised taskforce who dedicated itself to championing improvements in both, our diversity and inclusion culture. This work has continued and is a commitment that starts from the very top and spans to every level and across the entire business. The taskforce is supported by 45 D&I advocates who learn about our D&I approach, keep everyone informed, and help drive our D&I culture.

Anything is possible when we’re “all in”

Felicia Pinto, Head of Regulatory and D&I transversal project lead 

The past year has shown remarkable things can be achieved when people put aside differences to work together for the greater good. We need every single person at Sanofi to help make the difference, which is why we have called our new D&I strategy “all in”. When everyone is “all in”, we believe that anything is possible. 

For me, ‘good’ is when I walk into the office and it represents the country we live in, and when we see people having the level of freedom to completely be themselves. That is when I know we’ve made a real difference, though we’re not there yet. 

We need to be trailblazers and think about the bigger picture. We need to check ourselves, stop generalising and challenge stereotypes as well as our own mindsets. As leaders, we need to be good role models, to stand up, defend and call out wrong behaviours – that’s our responsibility and duty to our people.