‘Novartis in Society’ Report Highlights Diversity & Inclusion Efforts

Novartis is a Fair360, formerly DiversityInc Hall of Fame company.

From the report:

Diversity & Inclusion

Novartis strives to adhere to high standards of diversity and inclusion (D&I) in our culture and values, as embodied in our company’s new Code of Ethics. We believe this helps drive innovation, generates new ideas, and brings us closer to patients and other stakeholders. Our D&I principles – built around equity, inclusivity and society – empower our associates to do what’s right in making decisions and taking actions.

We are making progress towards our United Nations (UN) Equal Pay International Coalition pledge to achieve gender balance in management and further improve pay equity and transparency processes by 2023. The percentage of women managers in our US business rose to 47.5% in 2020, and by February 2021 we will have introduced pay transparency in 16 countries, including the US.

We continue to move forward with important D&I initiatives in the US to build and reinforce our positive culture. These include cultivating a diverse and equitable environment for our associates, supporting and retaining diverse talent, strengthening and empowering Employee Resource Groups and Councils, and shaping society. For example, we developed and launched a Multicultural Engagement Program to strengthen and retain our diverse talent and pave the way for them to assume critical leadership roles in the future. Through this program, we are providing direct one-on-one coaching, training and executive mentoring. We also established new hiring guidelines that require gender and ethnic/racial diversity in our candidate slates and on interview plans, and hired a D&I talent acquisition team to help us identify and attract diverse talent to the company.

As part of our work to help shape society, Novartis was the first major pharmaceutical company to support the UN’s LGBTI Standards of Conduct, which seek to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people in the workplace. We also committed to increase patient diversity within our clinical research and development programs, launched Disparities in Care initiatives, and implemented a Diverse Supplier Protocol to deepen our partnership with women-, minority-, veteran- and LGBTQ-owned businesses.

Our D&I achievements continue to be recognized outside the company. We maintained our status as one of seven 2020 Fair360, formerly DiversityInc Hall of Fame companies and have been ranked number one in our industry in the 2020 Refinitiv Diversity & Inclusion Index for the second consecutive year. We also scored 100% on the LGBT Corporate Equality Index of the Human Rights Campaign and were named a Military Friendly Employer for 2020 by Victory Media, publisher, GI Jobs Magazine.

Standing Together against injustice

In the wake of social justice movements in the US and elsewhere in 2020 following the murder of George Floyd and other needless tragedies, Novartis provided tools and resources for our associates to help provide perspective and knowledge and to empower them to stand together against injustice. Novartis states emphatically that the company has zero tolerance for racism or bias of any kind. We believe unequivocally that Black lives matter.

Novartis also developed new ways to reinforce this commitment and demonstrate solidarity around the principles of equality, diversity and inclusion. We held a Juneteenth program with more than 4,800 associates, focused on understanding the history and current impact of, and future solutions to, racial equity issues.

In September, Novartis hosted the company’s first-ever Day of Reflection, virtually bringing together 6,700 associates to learn, think and talk about what it means to be part of a truly diverse and inclusive organization. The deeply personal sessions were hosted by senior Novartis leaders, and designed to help associates understand the importance of going beyond supporting equal rights to actively working against hatred and inequality everywhere.

Associates responded enthusiastically to the Day of Reflection, with 93% of participants saying they gained a better understanding of the company’s actions to create a diverse and inclusive environment, and 89% agreeing they could apply learnings from the Day of Reflection to help create an inclusive and positive environment at work. Novartis plans to make the Day of Reflection an annual event in the US, to be held on or around the Juneteenth holiday.

In addition, we continue to provide inclusive culture training, programming and resources on an ongoing basis. In line with this commitment, the Novartis US Foundation has donated to programs and supports community and advocacy group initiatives focused on health equity and racial justice.

Novartis US Foundation

Novartis US Foundation fosters strategic partnerships and innovative programs to drive greater health equity in the United States. We believe that all people – regardless of race, age, sex, socioeconomic status, or geography – should have an opportunity to achieve their best possible health.

The US Foundation seeks to advance sustainable change through initiatives to build trust between patients and healthcare providers, expand healthcare access, and address social determinants of health in local communities. We establish partnerships and support programs to:

  • increase diversity in the healthcare workforce and address implicit bias within health systems;
  • improve access to healthcare services for vulnerable populations through innovative solutions that reduce barriers to care; and
  • provide aid and support to address social determinants of health in the communities where we work and live.

Since 2019, the US Foundation has provided more than USD 12 million to programs and initiatives in these areas. One of our signature partnerships is with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement in support of their Pursuing Equity initiative, which brings together a variety of healthcare organizations to determine, share and advance new solutions to drive measurable change within the healthcare system.

As part of our ongoing commitment to Diversity & Inclusion, we are committing to publicly disclose our consolidated US EEO-1 information following its submission to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in April 2021. This is a government-required submission filed by all companies with 50 or more employees in the US that provides demographic information related to gender, race and ethnicity of a company’s US employee population. It can serve as an important benchmark against which future progress on D&I efforts can be assessed. While the content of an EEO-1 filing has historically not been made public, we will make this information available on our website once our EEO-1 submissions for 2019 and 2020 are filed in or about April 2021.

COVID-19 relief

With COVID-19 profoundly impacting US families and communities in unprecedented ways, Novartis and the Novartis US Foundation moved quickly to establish a US COVID-19 Community Response Fund, providing cash and in-kind donations for immediate response and recovery efforts related to the pandemic. The Fund has provided grants to 40 community organizations to support local response efforts.

Our focus on addressing health equity and barriers to access proved timely, as telehealth became a crucial lifeline for patients during COVID-19. Our pre-pandemic support for the New Jersey Primary Care Association enabled five New Jersey Community Health Centers to quickly launch telehealth programs after the pandemic began. Despite dramatic drops in patient volume due to COVID-19, pilot centers were able to maintain continuity of primary and specialty care services for some of the state’s most vulnerable populations.

To provide additional resources for communities impacted by COVID-19, the US Foundation instituted a limited-time, two-for-one match to amplify Novartis associates’ support for national and local organizations working on the frontlines during the pandemic. This campaign provided nearly USD 850,000 in combined associate donations and US Foundation match contributions. In the first weeks of the pandemic, we also partnered with YouGiveGoods, an online platform for employee donations of goods, to provide more than USD 46,000 of food and needed supplies to community-based organizations across the country.

Social justice response

The US Foundation responded to increased national attention on social justice issues in 2020 by providing funding to the NAACP Empowerment Programs for core health equity programming. Our associates also supported social justice causes through a special match campaign, which raised more than USD 110,000 in combined employee and Foundation donations.

In addition, the US Foundation announced a longer-term commitment of USD 15 million to address health equity with a focus on the lack of diversity in clinical trials. We plan to identify and convene potential collaborators from the public, private and advocacy sectors to consider solutions to this challenge, including ways to address social and systems- based issues related to minority participation in clinical trials.

Associates making a difference

Novartis associates are generous donors to a wide range of charities and causes, committing both time and financial resources to efforts to improve health, strengthen communities and build trust. In 2020, associates donated nearly USD 1.5 million through the Matching Gifts Program to nonprofit organizations of associates’ choosing, beyond the COVID-19 and social justice causes.

While associate volunteering shifted from in-person to virtual activities due to the pandemic, the company continued to support these efforts through volunteer time off and volunteer recognition grants. We continued our successful mentorship programs and initiatives, including the Independent College Fund of New Jersey’s Novartis Science Scholarship awards, with Novartis scientists providing yearlong mentoring to undergraduates conducting independent scientific research.

Environmental sustainability

At Novartis, we believe environmental sustainability is directly tied to the sustainability of our business. Our continued investment in our planet supports our purpose to improve and extend people’s lives and helps us build trust with society. We want to be a leader in environmental sustainability and a catalyst for positive change, driving sustainability through our own operations and ultimately across our value chain, and advocating for strong sustainability policies across our industry and society.

Our long-term strategy sets ambitious targets in climate, water and waste for 2025 and 2030, building on our current achievements in these areas. Realizing these goals will enable our business to be carbon-neutral and energy- and climate-resilient; support the creation of a circular economy by being plastic neutral, minimizing waste and increasing material efficiency; and be water-neutral by ensuring sufficient and safe water, and operating as a good water steward.

For example, to help reduce waste, Novartis redesigned the sample packaging for Entresto, one of our cardiovascular treatments. Previously it was packaged using two bottles in a carton with a leaflet. Now we are starting to use a single bottle with no carton, and the leaflet attached to the side of the bottle.

Novartis aims to be carbon-neutral in its operations by 2025. Our virtual power purchasing agreement with the Santa Rita East wind farm in Texas is helping to achieve this goal. In 2020 the windfarm produced 417,000-megawatt hours of carbon-free electricity, which is the equivalent of powering 481 000 average American homes for one year.

Our Global Drug Development organization also is focused on climate impact, launching a pilot program that includes carbon pricing and impact into early-stage development of future drugs. This helps us make better decisions earlier about ways we can reduce carbon emissions during the scale-up of new products.

Novartis has engaged in educating policymakers on our efforts related to environmental sustainability, including supporting carbon-pricing efforts in the states, renewable portfolio standards, climate resilience and justice, and adoption of zero- and low-emission vehicles. Building on our work in 2019, we have continued outreach on environmental issues, including signing a letter of support for the Transportation Climate Initiative to deliver cleaner transportation for 12 states on the East Coast.

To strengthen our ongoing engagement with policy leaders on sustainability issues, we recently joined the Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy (BICEP) network, a diverse coalition of global enterprises advocating for sound sustainability policies with governments and other organizations. Novartis has informally supported BICEP and its sponsor, Ceres, with participation in multiple advocacy meetings with lawmakers and staff in the last two years, and will continue to do so as a formal member of the organization.

We look forward to enhancing our efforts in 2021.

Read the full report here.