Taking Diversity & Inclusion to the next level at Astellas

By Eloiza Domingo, Executive Director, Head of Engagement, Diversity & Inclusion

I joined Astellas in a newly-created role of executive director of Diversity & Inclusion, to positively impact Astellas’ D&I program. After 20 years’ experience in this field (read more on my background here) I know that commitment from top management in an organization is the key to evolving D&I programs in a meaningful way. I have quickly learned that our US and global senior leadership has already demonstrated this dedication in previous years, setting up the company to successfully take impactful next steps that broaden D&I in the workplace and in patient communities Astellas serves.

By 2044, persons of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds will be the majority in the United States. This is a wonderful reflection on the breadth and depth of our culture. However, the pharmaceutical industry’s hiring practices are not currently reflective of this trend. African Americans represent less than 10 percent of our industry’s workers, Asians 14 percent and Latinos 11 percent. In addition, recent reports show that diverse patients are underrepresented in clinical trials, accounting for fewer than 10 percent of participants enrolled, according to the National Institutes of Health.

So, what can we do? D&I evolves constantly – which we as an organization must reflect with a committed, strategic effort. Going forward Astellas is focusing on a robust D&I approach that address our culture, our workforce and patient support.

Among these issues, a few stand out that have a significant impact on our ability to bring the Astellas Way to life every day for all our stakeholders.

  • Mitigating implicit bias. We will examine how to better identify and then effectively address implicit bias not only in individual behavior, but in systems and processes to strengthen our business. This means enhancing our environment to ensure that all people can bring and share their whole selves at work. It also means educating managers and holding them accountable for improved mentoring and building diverse talent pipelines.
  • Expanding supplier diversity. We will further develop our supplier diversity program, reinforcing Astellas’ commitment to sustainability by generating revenue back into the community, as well as helping to grow jobs / employment opportunities. 
  • Addressing health equity. To achieve equitable access across healthcare, we must ensure our efforts are culturally competent to reach more diverse communities in a range of activities from trial recruitment and patient advocacy, to disease awareness and marketing operations.
  • Integrating D&I measurements. It is imperative that D&I is part of Astellas’ holistic business strategy and we need to hold ourselves accountable to improvement over time. This means identifying, implementing and learning from meaningful measurements.

While we have many opportunities for improvement, I’m proud of Astellas’ award-winning program already in place. Our seven employee impact groups (EIGs) for African American, Asian, Hispanic, LGBTQ, military, disabled and women employees and their allies integrate company leadership and build support at all levels of the organization. These groups advise the business and enrich cultural education within Astellas. Their voices are taken seriously, their priorities valued. The progress we have made to date has been a grass-roots movement with senior leadership endorsement and participation.

It is upon this strong foundation that we will build and grow our D&I practice to be the gold standard in our industry. Through my role as a board member of Elevate, a nonprofit organization that supports the growth and effectiveness of employee groups such as our EIGs, I’m looking forward to collaborating with other D&I leaders and seeking new ideas that can help Astellas deliver value to patients, our employees and the communities where we work and live.

Ultimately, collaboration and openness will be prerequisites for our industry to evolve to best serve the needs of our increasingly diverse patient population. By leveraging our differences and uniting our collective strengths, we have the opportunity to make a sustained impact in the lives of patients.

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