Creating a Culture of Citizenship > Our Workplace A Diverse, Inclusive Workplace
Abbott's Women Leaders in Action, with 5,000 members from across the company, supports diversity in leadership. The WLA hosts on-site health fairs and events for all employees.
At our manufacturing facility in Clonmel, Ireland, the ClonmelAble group works to make the plant more accessible to workers with disabilities and other challenges. Their latest update is Braille signage, installed throughout the building.
In 2011, Abbott continued its commitment to increasing the number of women and minorities in management.
Abbott is committed to achieving a diverse and inclusive work environment. Diversity of perspectives, experiences and skills is critical to our global competitiveness. We work to leverage and learn from our differences to deliver greater business impact across all levels of our company.
Abbott’s Executive Inclusion Council, led by our Chairman and CEO, monitors the hiring and advancement of women and minorities into U.S. management positions and supports programs that promote an inclusive work environment. In the United States, the representation of women and minorities in management has been an area of particular focus for Abbott for more than a decade. Representation of women and minorities in our U.S. management team has increased by 44 percent and 51 percent, respectively, during the past 10 years. For each of the past five years, Abbott has met or exceeded the Executive Inclusion Council’s goals for U.S. hiring and advancement of women and minorities.
Building on our longstanding emphasis on diversity and inclusion in North America is a focus for Abbott. In 2011, we continued to expand our efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in locally and culturally appropriate ways in our operations around the world. Among other initiatives, we extended our mentoring program in Europe – encouraging employees to form mentoring partnerships with employees from diverse backgrounds other than their own. Additionally, many of our business units have developed their own function-specific and country-specific diversity and inclusion initiatives. For example, our global pharmaceutical business held several training programs last year to encourage inclusion – with a special focus on women’s advancement. We also provided extensive training to help manufacturing employees better understand how to leverage Abbott’s mentoring program to gain experiences outside the technical realm.
Further capitalizing on our commitment to inclusion, Abbott in Italy developed an online training program to address diversity and work-life harmony issues for women, with particular focus on supporting employees preparing for the birth of a child. The program – which was honored by the Italian government as best in class and adopted for widespread use throughout Italy – helps to ensure that new mothers and fathers can enjoy the full benefits of maternity or paternity leave without compromising the efficiency of remaining staff members. Due in part to the success of this program, Region Lazio named Abbott Italy a best practice employer at the 2011 Italian Women’s Day. The program also has helped accelerate the development of women in management positions in our Italian operations. While fewer than 11 percent of senior managers at an average Italian company are female, women make up 28 percent of senior managers and higher-level employees at Abbott.
Similarly, we work hard to encourage inclusion of individuals with disabilities across all our businesses and locations. Abbott is one of the founding members of the Kanchi network, a leadership group of companies in Ireland whose goal is to revolutionize the relationship between business and disability so that people with disabilities will be recognized and values as consumers, talent, suppliers and members of the community. Abbott Ireland is providing significant input into the development of an ability benchmark that will recognize excellence in disability equality in all businesses.
Complementing our inclusion programs and initiatives, Abbott’s employee networks play a vital role in building an inclusive culture and supporting business operations. These networks are sponsored by corporate officers, who help align group objectives with business strategies. By focusing on career development, mentoring, community involvement, informal networking and leadership skills development, our networks continue to expand visibility and create opportunities for participants. Nearly 8,000 employees participate in our six networks:
- Asian Leadership and Cultural Network (ALCN)
- Black Business Network
- La Voice Network (Hispanic/Latino)
- Flex Network (part-time and flexible schedules)
- PRIDE (gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender)
- Women Leaders in Action (WLA)
Our networks not only provide networking and coaching opportunities, but also enable employees to leverage their unique skills to help support business operations. For example, our ALCN provides translation services to high-level delegations of government officials and key opinion leaders visiting our headquarters. Similarly, the La Voice Network, representing Hispanic and Latino employees, provides translation support when needed for Spanish-speaking customers calling our telephone hotlines.
During the past year, membership and engagement in our employee networks have expanded substantially. For example, the primarily U.S.-based WLA recently launched its first chapter based outside the United States – in Ireland. The Irish WLA chapter already boasts 87 members and combines leadership development and skill-building activities with community outreach. With both a new toolkit to guide the chapter development process and a dedicated committee to support it, several other countries are in the early stages of forming their own local WLA chapters.
An integral part of the Abbott culture of continuous learning and knowledge sharing, mentoring – both formal and informal – is prevalent across the organization. Use of our formal U.S. mentoring program, administered through a Web-based partnership-matching tool, continued to increase in 2011 and has resulted in the creation of thousands of mentoring partnerships. Additionally, WLA launched a global mentoring pilot program in Europe in 2011. WLA members were able to use their personal networks to match several mentees with an international network of mentors.
In the United States, employee network members participate in a variety of mentoring circles that combine education with networking opportunities. Instead of traditional one-to-one mentoring relationships, mentoring circles enable one or more subject matter experts to mentor a group of protégés sharing similar interests. For example, a finance circle might invite Abbott guest speakers to give presentations on topics such as long-range planning, health economics research, cost accounting, commercial sales forecasting and so forth. In some cases, senior executives such as the corporate controller might join the circle to participate in an informal question-and-answer session on leadership topics and career paths. In 2011, ALCN launched a new series of mentoring circles, and WLA continued its popular circles program.
Our Abbott Performance Culture Survey, administered every other year, demonstrates that these efforts to support diversity and inclusion are working. The “employee engagement index” score increased from 75 percent in 2008 to 78 percent in 2010. Additionally, 79 percent of employee respondents reported feeling they have the flexibility to balance professional and personal needs.
Note: All data in the Global Citizenship section reflects activities prior to the separation of Abbott and AbbVie on January 1, 2013.