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Hiring a Chief Diversity Officer

Nine ways pharmas can position their CDOs for success in driving innovation


PharmExec | April 5, 2019


PharmExec published a bylined article, “Hiring a Chief Diversity Officer,” authored by Russell Reynolds Associates Consultants Sean Dineen and Cissy Young. The article discusses best practices for hiring a CDO and why it's a good idea for pharma companies to do so. The article is excerpted below.

Hiring a chief diversity officer (CDO) is one of the most visible ways a company can communicate its commitment to a diverse and inclusive workplace. By that measure, the pharmaceutical industry is doing well. Of the 25 largest publicly-traded pharma companies in the US and Europe, 80% have CDOs (or equivalent roles), compared to 47% of S&P 500 companies, according to an analysis by Russell Reynolds Associates. In addition to CDOs being prevalent in the pharma industry, they are also more experienced. Forty-five percent of the pharma CDOs have held CDO positions previously, compared to only 26% of those in S&P 500 companies. 

Investing in diversity and inclusion (D&I) makes sense for drug manufacturers. A growing body of research supports the notion that the combination of inclusive leadership and diverse teams produce higher levels of innovation. According to our 2018 D&I Pulse survey of over 1,800 global executives, more than 80% say working for leaders who are highly committed to D&I brings out their most innovative ideas. Johnson & Johnson is a highly visible example of a company linking D&I with innovation in its corporate strategy. The $81.6 billion pharma giant publishes a detailed D&I strategy on its website, which includes the explicit missions to “advance our culture of innovation and inclusion” and “enhance business results and reputation.”

Innovation is the fuel for growth. To bring new therapies to market, forward-looking organizations are effectively incorporating and implementing fresh approaches such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning capabilities, or advanced manufacturing and supply chain logistics to gain a competitive advantage. Being on the leading edge of innovation hinges on assembling the strongest and best minds around the table. This may include breaking the mold and bringing in diverse talent from outside the industry, a practice that remains uncommon in what can be an insular field. Pharma companies spend billions each year on R&D, and the return on that investment is directly affected by how successfully leaders maximize the full potential of a diverse set of talent.

To read the full article, click here.

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Hiring a Chief Diversity Officer