Driving Positive Impact through D&I: An Interview with Roxana Cîlțea, Country HR Head at Sanofi Romania

In this interview, Roxana Cîlțea, Country HR Head at Sanofi Romania, shares insights into Sanofi's integrated Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) strategy and its transformative effects on the workforce, workplace, and communities. She emphasizes the importance of embracing and promoting diversity and inclusion, both within the organization and in society at large, and highlights Sanofi's commitment to fostering a representative leadership, creating an inclusive work environment, and engaging with diverse communities. She further explains the significance of implementing a global standard for inclusive and equal gender-neutral parental leave, aligning with Sanofi's broader dedication to diversity and inclusion.

Can you tell us more about Sanofi's integrated Diversity & Inclusion strategy and how it drives a positive impact on the workforce, workplace, and communities?

The reality of which we operate in shapes our every step towards a greater Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) strategy. Reflecting, unleashing, and helping transform the reality of our employees, patients, and communities for the better is a key enabler not only of our DE&I principles, but of our business as a whole.

Our company’s strategy covers essential strands of diversity – gender, ethnicity, LGBTQIA+, age, and disability – every piece of our identity and reality that makes each of us unique. Because in my opinion, diversity means taking advantage of our collective difference and embracing each individual particularity that employees bring to the team. Eventually, equity and inclusion refer to offering and sharing with others the feeling of belonging, mutual respect, and personal values.

I strongly believe that by allowing and promoting this openness and inclusive behaviours within our workplace, as well as outside it, we can take that all so needed step towards shaping a happy, healthy society. Sanofi’s commitment in this area is thus guided by bringing the diversity of our communities to the forefront and stimulating the inclusion of all even further.

How does Sanofi define diversity and inclusion, and how are these principles embraced and promoted within the organization?

Our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion 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. As we always like to emphasize, at Sanofi, DE&I is not a lonely journey! It is about actively engaging leaders, managers, and employees alike in taking a stance for a more and more diverse, open, and inclusive workplace where we can all strive, be our best selves, ALL IN for turning the impossible into possible for patients.

We tell our DE&I story with the help of three distinct pillars that encompass the essence of Sanofi’s credo, being fully integrated with our people strategy, as well as the broader commitment to society – building a representative leadership, creating a work environment where employees can bring their best selves, and engaging with diverse communities.

Firstly, by achieving gender balance, as well as an increase in local workforce diversity representation in hiring and career progression, and giving an equal chance to all employees, we work on building a representative leadership.

Secondly, by allowing our employees to have access to flexible work arrangements, embracing and promoting an inclusive culture within the organisation, offering a gender-neutral global parental leave, and providing a workplace and work processes with full accessibility to 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, all employees being encouraged to volunteer, and reaching out to our suppliers to sign up to our solidarity sourcing program, Sanofi is dedicated to engaging with its diverse communities.

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

Ultimately, we want to make an impact in the world through who we are, what we do, and the way we do it, and this is reflected in our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion strategy. Our ambition is to reflect the diversity of our communities, unleashing our best selves every day to transform the practice of medicine.

At Sanofi Romania, we acknowledge the value of an integrated DE&I strategy that embraces and pushes for the progress of our employees, our company, and our society. This starts from within us, Sanofians, by creating an open and inclusive workplace, where we give each other the space to grow, to be ourselves, to exercise our diversity. This way, we may both offer, and also expect in return, beautiful ideas, openness, dignity, joy, healing, and inclusion on all levels. And we publicly and responsibly advocate for it, internally and externally – liaising with dedicated organizations, sharing best practices, volunteering, and inspiring those around.

One of our primary ambitions is continue our determined support for gender balance, by ensuring awareness inside and outside the organisation, flexibility, and support, in accordance with every employee’s professional and personal particularities, at any given time in their life.

No matter your age or experience, cross-generations dialogue is greatly appreciated and encouraged within Sanofi Romania, in order to surpass inevitable gaps between generations – making sure that all voices are represented in internal advocacy groups.

And this also leads us to the commitment to extend our perspective to many more horizons, to be more open to recruit and to include employees from other industries and countries. To chase the miracles of science, we urge to include different ways of thinking, with accent on innovative approaches and digital practices.

All employees have equal rights when it comes to both benefitting from a healthy workspace and to using their time and voice to speak up on matters they are passionate about. We strongly support the creation of CSR programs and volunteering initiatives, such as the newly launched WeVolunteer platform that allows employees to find and invest time and energy to a cause in need.

Could you explain the significance of implementing a global standard for inclusive and equal gender-neutral parental leave at Sanofi, and how it aligns with the company's broader commitment to diversity and inclusion?

Only ensuring Sanofi engages a diverse workforce in a healthy workplace, can the company provide its best for patients in Romania and around the world. The global paid parental leave at Sanofi is, thus, one of the measures implemented within the company to fulfil the duty of caring for employees’ wellbeing, allowing them to spend time dedicated to their growing families, fulfilling their personal life while developing their career.

Creating an inclusive and open work environment, being aware of and paying attention to 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. And while we encourage our employees in chasing the miracles of science, we also believe that parents, irrespective of gender, have the right to take their time in cherishing the miracles of their growing families, be it by childbirth, adoption, or other ways of welcoming a child onto this world and into a family.

Mothers in Romania have access to 126 days (18 weeks) of paid maternity leave (85% of it covered by the state), while fathers are entitled to only 10 to 15 days of paternity leave, if the father follows a documented childcare course. We wanted to adapt to this local context and the discrepancies in the maternity and paternity leave options that exist across Europe and the entire globe and, as of January 1st, 2022, we introduced the global gender-neutral parental leave.

And because DE&I topics and objectives are multi-faceted topics, providing the same rights and opportunities to all employees will equally contribute towards helping managers, who make decisions on hiring, promoting, and developing talents, not to apply biases about parental leave only being taken by women.

We are trying to help improve gender parity in the workplace and reduce the gender bias that can occur after giving birth or adopting a child. Another step forward to supporting Sanofi’s ambitions of gender balance and beyond.

We know WE CAN DO MORE, and we are ALL IN!

Interview by Dana Oancea. Copyright Carta Diversitatii din Romania.