How complementary global and local initiatives are at the heart of AstraZeneca’s approach to inclusion and diversity


In the eighth of our interviews with key speakers who are presenting at SEC 11th -12th October 2018, Rebekah Martin and Liz Moran discuss how complementary global and local initiatives are at the heart of AstraZeneca’s approach to inclusion and diversity.

Rebekah Martin
has been AstraZeneca’s Head of Reward and Diversity since April 2018. She studied Biochemistry at Oxford University, UK, before qualifying as a lawyer in the UK. After a number of years in private practice, Rebekah joined AstraZeneca in 2011. Since then she has held progressively senior roles in legal, including responsibility for IP litigation, employment and handling the full spectrum of commercial legal matters whilst she was the Asia Area Legal Director based in Singapore.

With over 15 years’ experience in Human Resources, Liz Moran brings a wealth of expertise and skills to her current role at AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals leading Talent, Development and Inclusion. In this role she oversees all aspects of talent management, leadership development and inclusion in the US market. Prior to joining AstraZeneca, she held roles of increasing responsibility at The Estee Lauder Companies Inc. in the global employee engagement and talent development COEs responsible for driving learning, engagement and culture through the creation and delivery of world-class global programmes and experiences.

At SEC 2018 you will be discussing how global and local initiatives on inclusion and diversity can complement one another. Does this mean you feel that currently there is a distinct divide?

Innovation is our reason for being at AstraZeneca (AZ). Inclusion and diversity is at the heart of innovation and is fundamental to our ability to get better medicines to patients across the world more quickly. We understand that inclusive, diverse teams overcome challenges and solve problems more quickly and in a better way than teams that are not.


This means it’s important for anyone working with or for AstraZeneca to be able to be authentic and true to themselves – no matter their background or beliefs. Each member of the team should recognise they bring something unique to it. Tackling unconscious bias is a theme across the globe. Unconscious bias is a function of the neurochemistry of the brain – everyone has it. This means it’s a global theme that can connect with local initiatives. Helping people to reflect on what their own biases might be and helping them to find ways to mitigate them can be incredibly powerful.


Cultural awareness is another example. Understanding a different culture, or the ways in which team members are different, is critical. If we can understand and really listen to one another, we can be confident diverse teams are working effectively together. Thinking differently makes us stronger together.


That applies to the way we approach our inclusion and diversity initiatives as well. One size does not, and should not fit all. Whilst we have global policies and standards to guide the way we connect our employees to their colleagues in different countries and parts of our business, it’s always going to be important that people are supported and empowered to build our inclusive culture in the way that works best for their team.


Could you elaborate on some of the global initiatives AstraZeneca employs and how successful you feel they have been, for example, the physical workspaces scheme?

Moving towards iWork as our global standard has made an incredibly positive impact on the vibrancy of our culture and the collaboration that happens in the office. Having the combination of desk space, soft seating, collaboration areas and generally an open floor plan with colleagues from different teams working alongside one another has broken down organisational silos, quickened the rate decisions can be made and fostered camaraderie amongst employees.


The response to the Women’s Summits across the globe has been very positive, with additional countries building them into their annual employee engagement agendas. In 2016, the Women’s Summit won a CEO Award in the category of Great Place to Work, which is the highest recognition offered at AZ.


The Global Women as Leaders programme empowers women within the corporate environment to build their own personal brand, increase confidence, develop their ability to identify big picture opportunities, seek advancement by taking on more responsibilities and ultimately be promoted. Since its inception in 2014, 544 nominated women have attended this targeted development experience and over 40 per cent have already been promoted or given larger, more stretching roles.


Could you also talk about ‘Balance the SySTEM’, which you recently launched in the UK with the UK Government Equalities Office (GEO) and UK Women’s Business Council (WBC)?

AstraZeneca has partnered with pharma peers GSK and Amgen to explore ways in which we might see more women in leadership positions within STEM companies. The result of the collaboration is a toolkit/brochure, which could be of use in small to medium size STEM enterprises. The toolkit is packed with best practices across the three pharma companies on how to attract, progress and retain women in STEM, as well as how to measure success. While this is a new resource that has just been launched, the best practices included are applicable across the globe.


You can find out more about the STEMM Equality Congress here

You can find out more about Rebekah Martin and Liz Moran here