Roxana Cîlțea, Head of HR, Sanofi Romania: D&I is not a lonely journey! It is about All of us – leaders, managers, and employees

In today’s post, Roxana Cîlțea, Head of HR Romania and Moldova, Sanofi, 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 Romania?

To serve our local communities in the best way, we strive to reflect their reality and diversity, unleashing our best selves every day to transform the practice of medicine. Thus, diversity and inclusion are critical enablers of our business strategy, being fully integrated with our people strategy, as well as our broader commitment to society.

Our D&I strategy has well defined year-over-year milestones and KPIs, as we track our yearly progress and areas where we still need to invest. For 2022, we set up to continue the development and implementation of clear and challenging progress measures for underrepresented groups, to reflect culture and demographic differences. For example, we established a global milestone in achieving gender balance across all levels of leadership, with a 50% representation of women within Sanofi Senior Leaders. This milestone is already reality in many countries, such as Romania, where around 70% of jobs are fulfilled by women, a percentage that is considerable even in higher positions.

Sanofi’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is further shown in other areas, such as the uplifting, open and inclusive work environment. At least 2 out of 3 of our employees say they have access to working in a flexible way and feel they can openly engage in a discussion with their line manager. Furthermore, 100% of employees are aware of and feel free to use the gender-neutral family leave at Sanofi.

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

To bring the diversity of our communities to the forefront and stimulate inclusion of all even further, we are committed to focusing on three distinct pillars for our D&I Strategy: building a representative leadership, creating a work environment where we can bring our best selves and engaging with diverse communities.

These help us fulfil the duty of caring for our employees’ wellbeing. Learning to adapt fast in an ever-changing world was proven to be essential during the pandemic, and now during the devastating reality of a conflict. 100% of all employees have access to our Employee Assistance program.

Giving an equal chance to all underrepresented employees, achieving gender balance, and increasing workforce diversity representation throughout the company’s departments and roles, we work on building a representative leadership.

Next, by allowing our employees to have access to flexible work arrangements, embracing and promoting an inclusive culture within the organisation and providing workplace accessibility to all our employees with disabilities, we advance in creating a work environment where we can bring our best selves, and where all get to shine unconditionally.

Finally, achieving diversity targets within clinical trials, as well as all our Senior Leaders getting involved in CSR programs, and reaching out to our suppliers to sign up to our solidarity sourcing program, Sanofi is dedicated to engaging with diverse communities. I believe understanding each individual local context in which we operate is key to achieving the diversity and inclusion goals that drive our progress.

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

I think overcoming the preconceived notions created around diversity and inclusion could be a challenge in achieving success in this area so important to the HR activity. For instance, we strive to debias our performance management processes and embed inclusion. By addressing unconscious biases, we empower all employees in our global, cross-cultural environment to thrive and excel at their highest levels. We developed and carried out several dedicated trainings and workshops, with some employees even becoming ambassadors and trainees for such development sessions.

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

For Sanofi, for our leaders, for our managers and for me, diversity means taking advantage of our collective difference and embracing each individual particularity that our employees bring to the team. Inclusion refers to offering and sharing with others the feeling of belonging, mutual respect, and personal value.

Following these principles, we understand that our strength lies at the core of every team member’s uniqueness, which is essential in evolving as a company and as a responsible and considerate social entity. Creating an inclusive and open work environment and fulfilling the needs and expectations of employees will ensure that we all do our work with passion and reliability, chasing the miracles of science to improve people's lives.

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

One of the primary challenges is the invisible bias that most people would tend to unconsciously engage in.

Secondly, accelerating disability inclusion, which in my opinion should be a top priority for all communities. Focus on accessibility and the workplace is something Sanofi always took into consideration, ensuring accessibility for all our colleagues with disabilities. Neurodiversity and mental wellbeing are also becoming important in every workplace, with a lens on long-term and life-changing health and wellbeing conditions such as severe and chronic diseases.

Also, we most certainly understand and chase to accomplish something we always found crucial in any company and work environment – making your employees feel heard and being heard. That means understanding and putting solutions in practice, a process which can only be bidirectional. Employees want and value honesty. At Sanofi, we achieve this by encouraging our colleagues to share their ideas, excitements and even dissatisfactions. Besides our annual surveys, we have other platforms like: Employees Representatives, quarterly check-ins with the Managers, leaders’ open-door approach etc.  A healthy and open relationship between employees of all backgrounds and roles within the company helps in gaining trust, by valuing each other’s identity and worth.

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

D&I is not a lonely journey! It is about All of us – leaders, managers, and employees – we are all responsible for assimilating and actively promoting D&I principles.

Our D&I strategy has been co-created with a cross-section of employees around the world and it’s co-owned by every leader and employee and integrated into everything we do. So, getting them on-board before starting the journey and keeping them engaged along the way.

Another important aspect is showing them that the strategy is rightly executed, having clear KPIs and progress tracking. Thus, Sanofi is the first-of-its-kind in the pharmaceutical industry to have a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) Board with external advisors, in charge of accelerating our DE&I agenda globally with a bold mix of external thought leaders, executives and employees. Also, we have put in place a global Employee Resource Group (ERG) framework with five global ERGs: Gender+, Generations+, Pride+, Ability+ and Culture and Origins+, which are voluntary, employee-led groups that help create a diverse and inclusive workplace.

Each Global ERG has a leader who facilitates knowledge sharing, turning local insight into global action. And each Global ERG is sponsored by an Executive Committee member to champion them at the highest level – reinforcing our commitment to build a thriving ERG movement and to ensure that the company reflects, values and listens to its diverse employees’ communities.

And that’s because in Sanofi we are ALL IN and WE CAN DO MORE!

Interview by Dana Oancea. Copyright Carta Diversitatii, all rights reserved