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Astellas reflects on the importance of engagement, diversity, equity and inclusion in fostering a people-centric culture.
Astellas is proud to celebrate Global Diversity Awareness Month this October – an opportunity to reflect on and honor our commitment to engagement, diversity, equity and inclusion (EDEI). We’ve made important strides in expanding our EDEI initiatives globally including: creation of new chapters of our Employee Impact Groups (EIGs), a recently launched Checking My Bias training designed to educate on biases that exist within the workplace and beyond and investing in community building, training & education and communication campaigns to foster greater psychological safety among employees. Our devoted EDEI leadership team including La Toya McClellan, Aya Ishihara and Brian Thibeaux, have spearheaded these initiatives, dedicating their time and effort to building our culture and preserving our unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusion.
To kick off this month, we’ve asked La Toya, Aya and Brian to share what diversity and inclusion means to them, what efforts are being made to bolster EDEI globally, and why diversity and inclusion is pivotal to Astellas’ success.
La Toya McClellan, Global Head of Engagement, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
As the EDEI leader at Astellas, when I reflect on the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace, I think about engagement. Whether fostering close relationships with colleagues or boosting productivity, engagement is key in helping employees find purpose in their work and enjoyment in the work they do. I’ve seen increasingly more teams begin to embed engagement into their KPIs and objectives – and I’m encouraged by the long-term impact this will have on our community as we continue to expand and evolve.
Our global EDEI strategy, launched in 2021, serves as our north star for our desired future state and our path to achieving it. We recently launched our Global DEI Council, including Astellas’ full executive committee, commercial presidents, and various HR leaders to decide on the global direction of DEI, cascade DEI into the organization, and hold leaders accountable. It’s reassuring to know that Astellas’ leadership is supportive of our efforts and sees the value in continuing to make EDEI a priority. I’m excited by the future impact our DEI counsel will have in bolstering EDEI efforts in the coming year and beyond.
For me, Global Diversity Awareness Month transcends all employees and offers us the opportunity to recognize the amazing potential we have as a collective whole in championing our diversity to create positive impact within our company and community. Together we are all responsible for supporting a people-centric, inclusive culture. When all employees feel seen and cared for, it brings out our best―critical for sparking creativity and innovation that drives development of new therapies that meet patients’ needs. To that end, I want to continue seeing our organization incorporate diversity and inclusion into everything we do because we recognize that it’s a business imperative.
Aya Ishihara, Senior Manager of Engagement, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
At a global level, Japan continues to advance Astellas’ EDEI journey in furthering EDEI and bringing EIG initiatives to the forefront, such as gender equality and LGBTQ inclusion. This year, Astellas joined the Tokyo Rainbow Pride for the first time with more than 100 employees and their families participating along with senior leaders. It was a testament to expanding our EDEI commitment globally and inspiring to see the participation from some of our top leaders as they expressed their support and engagement. In addition, we’ve held panel sessions with employees to discuss pertinent topics in the DE&I space including female leadership, supporting employees with disabilities, LGBTQ rights and men’s participation in childcare. EIGs are not currently present in Japan; however, after experiencing the success with Rainbow Pride, we know there is a strong appetite for them.
I’m looking forward to expanding our DE&I initiatives – currently, Japan has committed to accelerate female empowerment initiatives. It’s encouraging to know that Astellas is headed in the right direction and that employees are eager to move the needle forward. I hope all employees can use this month as a time to reflect and think about how far we’ve come and what lies ahead as we continue to improve our culture for ourselves, our company and the patients we serve.
Aya, on far left, joins Astellas colleagues to distribute Pride shirts
Brian Thibeaux, Manager of Engagement, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Since joining the EDEI team two years ago, I’ve been amazed at all that we’ve accomplished together to further the value of our EIGs: created EDEI informational videos with testimonials directly from EIG members, hosted an EIG leadership summit, connected EIG leaders and Astellas’ US Commercial management committee to keep EIGs connected to business initiatives and continued our annual EIG awards. As we continue to advance our EIG program, I’m eager to develop new initiatives to expand our diversity and inclusion efforts across Astellas.
My own career path at Astellas has been instrumental in both recognizing the impact of EDEI and the importance of fostering a diverse and inclusive culture. I applied for an open position on the EDEI leadership team after working within our sales department for 16 years. While I enjoyed account management, I was looking for a new career challenge and was encouraged by La Toya to take a chance. ‘Sometimes you have to jump, and the net will appear,’ she said – and she was right. Given my involvement with and appreciation for our EIGs, I knew I would regret not taking advantage of the opportunity to “jump,” regardless of the outcome. Ultimately, it’s about fostering relationships―I went from selling our products and building client relationships, to building internal relationships to advance our One Astellas culture. I’m motivated every day knowing that what we do makes a difference and is helping to improve our community.
It’s been rewarding to see a change in people through our efforts and to expose employees to different perspectives and opportunities. When I think about Global Diversity Awareness Month, I think about the importance of awareness. If you want to create change, there needs to be awareness first – and we all play an equal role in remaining aware, open to change and willing to ‘jump’ when the opportunity presents itself.
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