This is a guest blog post by David Thompson, Senior Principal Systems Engineer within the Chemistry Systems and High Performance Computing group at Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. In this role, David develops and applies novel computational tools to scientific problems. David is a passionate advocate for diversity in all things, a social media evangelist, and is interested in pretty much everything. Follow David on Twitter.
Ask anyone, in any field, and I am sure they would agree with the statement that “difference and opportunity go hand in hand”. In the pharmaceutical industry, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (BI) is a great illustration of this. In 2010, BI celebrates its 125th birthday. It remains a privately held company with more than 41 thousand employees, in over 40 countries, all working together to improve the lives of the patient populations they serve.
Value through innovation
As a research-driven organization, innovation is BI’s lifeblood. It is the purview of the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Engagement (ODI&E) to ensure that everyone appreciates the importance of all aspects of BI employees, thus directly contributing to an inclusive, open, and innovative environment.
Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are an integral part of the ODI&E. These grassroots initiatives represent the diversity of BI employees, and aim to enrich both the workplace and marketplace within which BI operates. I am proud to be a co-chair of our most recently formed ERG, NxGen, a group aimed at leveraging similarities and differences between and within the four generations of BI employees. Generations are defined by their shared sense of values; they communicate differently, have different expectations from their work lives, and they are motivated by different things. An organizational awareness across this dimension is of crucial importance.
Innovation through diversity
As a result of a US initiative BI has a vibrant Yammer network with over 2000 members, and more than 100 groups. Representation in the network is as broad with respect to function, as it is deep in terms of hierarchy. During a recent presentation at the Network and Affinity Leadership Congress I described how NxGen had leveraged BI’s use of Yammer to promote and expand our group, and to engage our constituents. Many NxGen members are familiar with Social Media, and were quick to realize its benefits through Yammer:
- NxGen was the first ERG to create a group on Yammer, and it is currently the fourth largest group in our network
- We ‘own’ our space through hashtags, becoming subject matter experts through our contributions
- Openness and transparency
NxGen has used Yammer to align itself with BI’s strategic needs, organizing internal workshops around networking and mentoring and, most recently, innovation and innovation measurement. This latter event was organized in response to an offhand comment made on Yammer, and brought together thought leaders and the heads of our innovation groups for a robust and passionate discussion.
Enterprise social media tools facilitate discussion across time zones, functional lines, and up and down the ranks of an organization. As a passionate advocate of diversity in all things, what more could you ask for?