Embracing Diversity: A Journey of Belonging at Janssen Romania

Roxana Botea, Country Director of Janssen Romania, shares insights on Janssen's commitment to diversity and inclusion, and their efforts to create a more inclusive workplace.

Ms Roxana Botea, how does Janssen Romania define diversity and inclusion, and what is the company's approach to creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace?

I joined Janssen Romania recently, and the company’s values and culture were part of the reason why I felt an immediate connection. Our incredible work culture is a part of Our Credo, a statement our company made more than 75 years ago and that puts people first. Our mission is to create a healthier world in which we all belong.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is at the heart of what we understand by belonging. There are multiple awards and recognitions the company received in the recent years at EMEA level, also in Romania we were appreciated as Best Place to Work. The DEI agenda is driven by our employees, as we have a local DEI Council, who oversees the country initiatives, involving, engaging and nurturing all Janssen Romania community and fostering the cultural advancement according to the times.

Considering everything we’ve done so far in implementing its principles on our day-to-day activity, we believe DEI is a continuous journey of learning and growth. Our ambition is that everyone within our company feels free to express themselves and to bring their unique perspectives, life experiences and ideas together to create a healthier and more equitable world.

As the first female Country Director of Janssen Romania, what specific strategies do you have to empower women in leadership positions, and how do you plan to foster gender diversity and inclusion in the workplace under your leadership?

Johnson & Johnson, our parent company, was intuitively founded on a principle of diversity and inclusion, when 8 of the first 14 employees were women and even today many top management positions are held by women. This is possible because the company always recognized the value of a diverse, inclusive team in meeting today’s challenges and bringing forward innovation in tomorrow’s solutions. Women are scientists and technologists, women are caregivers, mentors, mothers and innovators, sometimes all at once.  Companies that understand and leverage the potential of a diverse workforce can benefit from a wealth of insights and skills to boost their competitiveness.

I feel privileged to join this thriving culture, to have my professional achievements acknowledged and to have been given the opportunity to lead and inspire the people of Janssen Romania. We celebrate 30 years of presence in Romania in 2023 - 30 years of making an impact in the patients’ lives, of innovation on all aspects. Both in our Romania Leadership Team and at middle management level, we have a strong representation of women. This is an achievement I am proud of, and I am committed to continue nurturing it. We see Romania as a best practice example in the EMEA region.

Can you provide examples of specific initiatives that Janssen Romania has implemented to promote diversity and inclusion?

One of the first measures we took, fundamental for seeding all DEI programs, was to adopt a healthy work life balance. We are listening to the feedback of our employees and acting on it. This leads to ensuring a greater work/life integration, and we were rewarded with one of the highest satisfaction scores in the region when it comes to health and wellbeing. We were pleased to notice that we continue to have not only a culture of inclusion, but also that many of the employees want to contribute more to the communities, by enrolling in volunteering programs or initiating group activities that help moving forward the mission and principles of our company.

The multiple DEI initiatives our company encompasses are guided by four pillars, interconnecting to make sure diversity, equity and inclusion shape the way we work every day. These principles find expression in Romania as well, whether through global programs we adapt locally or locally developed programs. From an extensive list of DEI initiatives, I will mention the ones I find most defining for our country.

We conduct Unconscious Bias training for employees to learn about its unintended impact on inclusiveness, helping our colleagues raise awareness of implicit biases. Last year we further progressed on our DEI journey introducing Conscious Inclusion, a workforce training program that teaches employees how to be intentional in creating an environment where curiosity about differences is encouraged. The leadership team is also planning to deploy Inclusion Dialogues, designed to advance an inclusive culture for all colleagues and build the next generation of inclusive leaders.

Alliance for Diverse Abilities is an Employee Resource Group that encourages fostering an inclusive and barrier free environment for people with disabilities and people that are neurodiverse, while advocating for mental health and wellbeing. Within its frame, we support our colleagues who go through health problems, theirs or their families‘, as caregivers, and we recognize the professional capabilities of people living with physical or mental disabilities. We acknowledge that depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and Romania is no exception.

The Parenthood Circle is a program that supports the new parents, whether mothers or fathers. We created an internal system that aims to enhance the parenting skills by sharing experience with other colleagues, in an informal and laid-back context. The participation is on voluntary basis and consists of regular meetings or discussion groups.

WiSTEM2D program involves our employees as mentors and addresses society, Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, Manufacturing and Design (WiSTEM2D) encourages girls and women to engage in disciplines traditionally accessible to men. The program has already involved over 25,000 students, 470 teachers, and over 300 schools from 152 different areas of the country in the past 5 years.

What are some of the key challenges that Janssen Romania faces in its D&I journey, particularly within the pharma industry?

No mindset shift is easy, and it takes determination to shape up environments. But we benefited from Our Credo to build up the premises for a flexible approach to change in general. DEI principles are embedded in our corporate culture.

What role do you believe that diversity and inclusion play in the broader context of the pharmaceutical industry, particularly with regards to improving patient outcomes and addressing healthcare disparities?

The pharmaceutical industry’s purpose is to address the patient’s health needs, regardless of gender, race, age, sexual orientation or social status. We, at Janssen, are committed to the mission of making the healthcare innovation accessible to all in need, starting with the clinical trials for our medical solutions.

As patients become more engaged in their own health, when we talk about clinical research, they become research partners. By seeking, listening to, and acting upon patients' self-expressed preferences about research design and implementation, we can understand and address barriers in recruitment and participation that optimize trial quality. Hence, the trial outcome becomes more applicable to a wider range of patients, more diverse, and the treatment options become more inclusive and efficient. Considering this, we created the Clinical Trial Innovation work stream, which has two focus areas: making the trial enrollment more accessible to more patients and improving the participants’ experience by giving them direct voice and by adapting the language to their understanding.  

Looking ahead, what are Janssen Romania's aspirations for its diversity and inclusion efforts in the coming years, and how does the company plan to achieve them?

I believe in creating a safe environment where each employee can bring their best self to work and feel seen, supported and valued.

At Janssen Romania, we approach diversity, equity and inclusion as a business imperative. We regularly gather data and insights, both from within the company and from the communities we serve, to inform, design and implement programs that deliver impact where it is needed. We will continue to focus and accelerate our programs, policies and practices that enable all our people to feel they belong, with a focus on accessing deeper insights and developing on country level needs. As leader in healthcare, we see it as our duty to also lead the way in diversity, equity and inclusion.

Interview by Dana Oancea. This interview is part of the publication "Diversity Management of Romanian Organizations, Second Edition," published by the Romanian Diversity Charter in June 2023.