Lead with Pride – for the Benefit of All.
Boehringer Ingelheim celebrates PRIDE Month to advocate for LGBTQI+ acceptance, equality, and unity. We regard it as our responsibility as an employer to welcome all, to respect everyones’ differences, and neither practice nor tolerate any form of discrimination, harassment, or workplace aggression. We are committed to inclusion and creating a sense of belonging for all LGBTQI+.
A journey that shapes us
When Bruna Dodi, Head of South America Audit Center of Excellence and Supplier Qualification Coordinator in Boehringer Ingelheim Brazil, reflects on her own journey towards coming out as a member of the LGBTQI+ community, she stresses that starting to work at Boehringer Ingelheim was different for her: “I came out to my family in 2013 and to my friends in 2014, but it was not until 2016, when I joined Boehringer Ingelheim, that I was sure I could come out as LGBTQI+ at work, and still be respected for my professional performance without any bias.”
Bruna further explains that continuous advocating and allyship for acceptance, inclusion and equality is still critical. “Homophobia still kills, prejudice still leads to suicide, and taboos still increase depression among LGBTQI+ people” says Bruna. Although it has been more than 30 years since the Stonewall riots on Christopher Street, which served as a tipping point for the growing LGBTQI+ movement to stand up against discriminatory laws and practices, many members of the community still face discrimination and exclusion.
For Bruna, one element that contributed to her feeling of being respected for who she is, is the concept of inclusive leadership. Being an inclusive leader is about keeping an open mind, seeing people and their ideas or opportunities without bias, and taking accountability for an inclusive culture, including the development and self-growth for everyone by removing any barriers. Sven Sommerlatte, Global Head of Human Resources at Boehringer Ingelheim, emphasizes that he, as a leader, aims to be “a dedicated and reliable advocate for inclusion”. He adds: “Through inclusive leadership we are establishing a work culture of continuous learning and adapting, of curiosity, of actively seeking out other perspectives and raising awareness for unconscious bias. “
Leadership that brings out the best in us
Moreover, inclusive leadership allows Boehringer Ingelheim to grasp the opportunities an increasingly diverse workforce offers. Wayne Vo, Director and Senior Counsel for Animal Health Business Law at Boehringer Ingelheim U.S., emphasizes the importance of inclusive leadership on that backdrop: “Our differences are not what separates us, it’s the inability to empathize and learn from each other that divides us. Learn to be curious and surround yourselves with diverse people, because we cannot be truly innovative with the same thinking and perspectives.” By encouraging inclusive leadership, employees, the company and patients, customers and partners can benefit - an open, diverse, and inclusive culture fosters innovation and helps us adapt to changing markets and all stakeholders’ needs.
To create this inclusive culture, Boehringer Ingelheim actively works towards fighting discrimination and unconscious biases, and nurturing a diverse, collaborative, and open environment. The Global Code of Conduct addresses the need for employees to recognize, respect, and value differences, and actively trying to spread awareness and advocacy at a global level, e.g., by offering eLearnings and masterclasses on unconscious bias and inclusion for all our employees and guiding inclusive communication for all external and internal materials and activities.
Networks that empower us
In numerous countries, local actions advocating for the acceptance and equality for LGBTQI+ have developed. For instance, in Germany, as a PROUTEMPLOYER, Boehringer Ingelheim supports the PROUT AT WORK Foundation and is committed to creating an inclusive company culture, and a working environment that is open to all people. Boehringer Ingelheim also has a long-time commitment to voluntary, employee-led resource groups (ERGs) and networks to increase the understanding and advocacy of specific D&I topics. Boehringer Ingelheim’s first leadership sponsored Rainbow ERG was launched 16 years ago in the U.S. and since then, many similar ERGs around the world have followed. We also require leadership sponsoring, meaning that senior leaders provide support in terms of engagement and/or resources, to all our Rainbow ERGs.
Fabio Paganini, Head of ALAMEA Region Animal Health, Boehringer Ingelheim Corporate, sums up nicely how he tries to contribute to Boehringer Ingelheim’s open company culture, “As a leader, my commitment is to go from tolerating to celebrating our differences. Not only in Pride Month, but every day. The best version of ourselves only thrives when we can express the real one. At Boehringer Ingelheim, bringing your unique self to work is more than welcomed, it’s encouraged.”
Bruna couldn’t agree more: “The Bruna from a few years ago, in addition to not being able to share who she was, also didn't allow herself to live life the way she always wanted to. I've suffered from anguish, hives, and anxiety attacks because of it. However, coming out is not simple. But when I joined Boehringer Ingelheim, I was sure I could come out as LGBTQI+ at work.” Today, Bruna is one of Boehringer Ingelheims’s leaders, who works to expand and reinforce LGBTQI+ inclusion. Alongside Raphael Beraldo, she leads the ERG LGBTQI+ pillar in Brazil where she strives to create an environment in which every employee is valued, heard, and experiences a sense of belonging. “We are working to carry out transformative and sustainable actions that will ensure Boehringer remains a company where LGBTQI+ people want to work and where they can be themselves without fear of prejudice or retaliation”, a determined Bruna says.