Roxana Cîlțea, Country HR Sanofi Romania and Moldova: A diverse set of experiences, perspectives, and backgrounds is crucial to innovation

In today’s post, Roxana Cîlțea, Country HR Sanofi Romania and Moldova and South Cluster HRBP Sanofi Pasteur&Global Functions, talks about what actions the company has been taking in diversity management.

Could you share with us some key milestones in the D&I journey of Sanofi?  

Diversity &Inclusion was always in the focus of our Leaders, related initiatives have grown and matured over the last 10 years. The journey began initially within Corporate Social Responsibility and got genuinely embedded within Human Resources. In 2017 for example, we established our gender balance ambitions with a 50/50 representation of senior leaders among men and women within Sanofi by 2025. One year later, we have launched the Inclusive Work Environment program. 75 countries have adopted flexible work policies, and 61% of managers have completed or launched e-learning supporting work-life integration for all colleagues. In 2019, Sanofi has been officially certified as a 2019 “Global Top Employer” by the Top Employers Institute, in recognition of its Human Resources policies (including Diversity& Inclusion), in 22 countries. And in 2020 we got recertified and the number of countries grew to 24.

Nathalie Bickford, our Chief People Officer, considers Diversity &Inclusion as an integral part of our social impact strategy that will be integrated into the career development of our leaders and will be critical to attract and keep the best people at Sanofi. We also want to reflect this inclusive mindset outside the company in the communities we serve, ensuring diversity and inclusivity in clinical trials, in our selection criteria with our suppliers, etc.

Group’s CEO Paul Hudson announced recently that Sanofi expands its social commitments. Embedded in Sanofi's long-term strategy, the company’s commitment is based on four essential pillars in which Sanofi is uniquely positioned to make a difference, one of them being inclusion and diversity of company’s employees, besides: access to medicines, support for vulnerable communities and preservation of the environment. Our new strategy pushes us further to build a workforce that fully reflects the society we live in and the patients we serve. This element of the social impact strategy will be integrated into the career development of Sanofi leaders worldwide, ensuring a mindset that fosters diversity and inclusion throughout the company.

What aspects of diversity management have the highest priority in your company?

In Sanofi, we are aiming to advance the D&I culture within all the countries we are present, to strategies on, to translate it in business outcomes.

From organizational perspective we are grouped into Multi-Country-Organisations (MCOs), reuniting different nationalities, cultures, religions – this means we take into consideration, each and every day all aspects of life from gender, age and ethnicity to professional background, sexual orientation, the inclusion of people with disabilities and of those from other cultures and religions. We valorise a lot inclusive mindset and flexibility and constantly working to find solutions that meet the needs of our employees.

Flexibility has proved to be very important especially in pandemic times. We all faced additional struggles, like taking care of the children who learned online or of the elderly, whose health status has been more fragile, or even had own medical needs – especially for those who suffer from chronic diseases. And the answer regarding the ways of working was very different: some wanting to get back as soon as possible to the office, others choosing to work exclusively from home, others interested in a hybrid system.

We are continuously striving to build an inclusive workplace by drafting and implementing unified Flexible Works Policy and Practices, as part of a common, consistent strategy, with social impact for both our people and the communities we serve.

Which D&I activities have been implemented in your organization so far?

At Sanofi Romania, the "work-from-home" policy has been in place for several years, with our employees being able to work from home one day a week. Even before the onset of the pandemic we conducted a satisfaction survey of our managers and colleagues on this subject, the very favourable result translated into the extension to 2 days a week, which helped a lot to adapt and adopt quickly and efficiently of the new way of working imposed by the pandemic. For a few months we worked entirely remotely, managing to adjust the workflows of colleagues with field work.

Within the MCO, the respect for different cultures and religions is essential. Employees can enjoy free days on the occasion of their specific religious holidays or, for example, in Israel the weekend is different, Fridays are off, and we all take care and respect that.   

Another way we support the integration and inclusion of new employees in Sanofi is through a program called The Buddy Program, born in Romania and further implemented in other countries. Thus, we are happy to be able to pioneer and find innovative solutions that work best for the people at Sanofi – in Romania and everywhere else.

The final goal is to create an inclusive environment where everyone can bring their best selves to work, while fostering inclusion and sustainability in the local ecosystems in which we work, by reflecting this inclusive mindset outside the company, in the civil society.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by your sector in creating a diverse and inclusive workforce?

There are no specific challenges, different to the ones from other sectors. The most important is to be open towards, to listen and truly understand all the peoples’ different needs and to find optimal solutions which accommodate all. Sometimes it may seem that you’re drifting apart from the business priorities, but in fact, from my over 30 years of experience working in HR, when people feel they are respected and sustained, their results are even more performant. As I like so much to say: “Treat employees like they make a difference and they will!”

What business benefits do you see as a result of increasing D&I?

The business and societal advantages that come from a diverse and inclusive environment are significant.

We are convinced by the benefits it triggers for the company and the patients it serves: increased innovation and creativity, stronger performance, better quality of life at work and improved well-being for our teams!

Diversity is a key driver of innovation and is a critical component of being successful on a global scale. A diverse set of experiences, perspectives, and backgrounds is crucial to innovation and the development of new ideas.

Our purpose is to attract and keep the talents and brains in the company, in order to deliver the best solutions to our clients and our patients. The Diversity and Inclusion approach creates a safe environment where people can reach their full potential and this translates into brighter and bigger ideas, more courage and trust in implementation. Also, the proper environment will ensure that they work with passion to fulfil our goal at Sanofi – carrying for patients in need around the world.

Can you name three diversity challenges that companies have to pay attention to?

Yes, for sure:

- people with disabilities

- working across cultures, generations, and backgrounds

- providing an inclusive workspace that includes a flexible work environment and family leave.

We must fundamentally ask ourselves: Do we have a workforce that is reflective of the society we’re living in? If we don’t, why not?

And for sure we can do more!

What do you do to convince your colleagues to see the value in diversity management, or even more to truly get them on board?

I think they are convinced when they see the benefits, they enjoy themselves of working for a company who respects and values diversity. When you see that you are sustained to reach your full potential, you cannot treat your colleagues differently.

Also, we encourage a bidirectional communication between managers and employees. We urge our management to discuss not only business objectives, but also the development needs and aspirations of employees. Thus, we convince our colleagues to see the value of diversity management first-hand, by talking directly to the people that give their best every day for the company and for patients.

By promoting diversity, we uplift individual attributes for our common goal. This openness allows us to be ourselves, better every day, to dare to share our new ideas and our different opinions and to use our extraordinary talents to reach great achievements. Because at Sanofi Romania, we strongly believe that Empowering life begins with Empowering people!

Interview by Dana Oancea. Copyright Carta Diversitatii. 

This interview was produced with the financial support of the European Union (project Workplace Inclusion Champion WIC). Its contents are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.