Sandoz has long recognized that each customer is unique. And a large part of the company’s approach in building strong customer relationships is leveraging the diversity of its workforce to generate the best, most innovative solutions possible. This business practice not only enriches employee and customer experiences, but also provides Sandoz a significant competitive advantage in how it develops, sells and supports its products.
The concept of a diverse workforce has grown over the years from race, gender and ethnicity to also include age, personality, education, background, thought processes and other traits that make an individual unique.
“I am extremely passionate about the diversity of thought that we bring to the table when brainstorming and resolving issues with customers, as well as when exploring new ways to do our job more efficiently,” says Michele Dorris, Executive Director of Customer Service and Demand Planning, and a key diversity leader at Sandoz. “When an organization embraces the diverse backgrounds, talents, skills and experiences of its employees, the workforce organically becomes more adaptable to unexpected situations and challenges.”
Michele Dorris, Executive Director of Customer Service and Demand Planning, 2017 Diversity & Inclusion Spirit Award Winner
Michele points out that customers may not even be aware of the composition of cross-functional teams supporting them at Sandoz, but the results are seen in the quality of their sales and supply chain experiences.
To illustrate this, Michele points to a supply chain challenge the company experienced a couple of years ago that was negatively impacting customer confidence. A strong, strategic plan was developed by a diverse cross-functional team. The execution and results of the plan were so effective and well-orchestrated that it restored and strengthened the customer relationship at a difficult time. She firmly believes that with the right team and right diverse thinking, Sandoz offers a unique value proposition for its customers and the ultimate consumers of its products.
Importance of Cultural Competence in Healthcare
The importance of cultural competency in the healthcare industry cannot be ignored. This skill and how it is employed, has a direct impact on patient well-being and has gained much attention from regulators in recent years.
Cultural competency is a term defined by researchers at Harvard and Cornell as “the ability of providers and organizations to effectively deliver healthcare services that meet the social, cultural, and linguistic needs of patients.”
Being sensitive to racial, ethnic, age and other cultural barriers impacts all aspects of healthcare from research to the quality of service received at a provider office. An example for quality of service would be a diabetic patient with specific religious-based dietary restrictions. If a patient’s meal schedule isn’t taken into consideration, it could have a direct impact on insulin administration, and ultimately on the patient’s health.
From a drug development perspective, the concept of evidence-based medicine is based on research and data that reflect the diversity of the potential patient population to ensure that a therapy delivers benefit required for that broad population. Making deductions from homogenous subjects ignores the possibility that compounds can be metabolized differently or have different adverse outcomes among various populations.
Diversity is not just good business, it’s the right thing to do
Effective diversity and inclusion programs at some of the most progressive organizations include common elements:
A workplace plan and timeline that identifies specific diversity objectives and is comprehensive, attainable, sustainable and measureable
Integral assessments, evaluations and reassessments using tools, such as employee surveys to identify challenges and obstacles to diversity that need to be addressed.
Leadership and management commitment to implement diversity initiatives that support the workplace plan, and leading by example by strengthening diversity within their own ranks if they want the reports to do the same.
Diversity may mean change, and there will always be some resistance to change. This phenomenon, however, can be minimized if a diversity program is implemented properly and supported with solid research and well-designed training. Employee assessments are important in formulating effective diversity initiatives applicable to a specific company and industry.
Diversity drives innovation, which in turn drives change and progress. All of which helps Sandoz bring safe, accessible and affordable medicines to patients who need them the most.
Embracing diversity encourages and inspires employees to succeed and perform their best, which in turn leads to greater productivity and collaboration. But it also helps meet business strategy needs and needs of customers.
“Empathy and respect are elements of diversity that translate across all groups. My team fields a lot of inquiries from patients that we don’t see directly. When they get to us, they are usually already very frustrated. Our team needs to have these two characteristics in order to understand the patient’s perspective and find a resolution,” adds Michele, who takes pride in the diversity among her team.
Sandoz accepts and embraces differences. The company encourages and nurtures an atmosphere of openness to ideas and opinions from everyone to show that they are all given consideration and respect.
“Diversity is part of the Sandoz culture. It is ingrained in the way we live and work every day,” says Michele. “It is not just a hiring practices, but part of our core values and second nature to the way we do business.”