Article: Diversity is welcome in the pharma industry, says Cipla's Raju Mistry

Employee Engagement

Diversity is welcome in the pharma industry, says Cipla's Raju Mistry

The pharma sector is transforming and the industry at large will welcome diversity, both in terms of people’s identities and skillsets and instituting inclusive practices that create a favourable environment for them to grow, says Raju Mistry, president and global chief people officer at Cipla.
Diversity is welcome in the pharma industry, says Cipla's Raju Mistry

The pharmaceutical sector is seeing a wave of transformation on all fronts to shape it to be future-relevant.

With talent being the most valuable asset for the industry - like others, there is a deepened focus on transforming aspects like learning and development and culture to be attuned to the new world. As digital technologies take center stage towards enhancing efficiencies, outcomes and the roles of pharmaceutical companies, talent is being upskilled with next-generation skills like data analytics.

There is also greater focus on optimising functional capabilities as well as leadership development across multiple levels.

Raju Mistry, president and global chief people officer at Cipla, the 87 year-old pharmaceutical company, says the industry is also opening  up to hire talent from across sectors.

“Conventionally, pharma organisations have looked at hiring talent with backgrounds or specialisations in pharma itself. However, given the growing orientation towards consumer health and digital, companies are increasingly looking for talent from sectors like FMCG and technology and so on,” she adds.

Today, organisations are also pivoting towards a culture that supports talent holistically. Apart from programmes that foster their physical and mental wellbeing, this also includes creating a work environment that is conducive for their success notwithstanding their identities and backgrounds, through advanced policies.

Mistry says all the above aspects increasingly come into play, and will go on to define the future of work in the pharmaceutical sector.

In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Mistry sheds light on the future workplace and workforce for the pharmaceutical sector, steps to recruit, retain, and develop talent in the sector and how Cipla is building an organisation and workforce that is equipped for the future.

What does the future workplace and workforce look like for the pharmaceutical sector?

We will see the industry-at-large welcoming diversity both in terms of people’s identities and skillsets and instituting inclusive practices that create a favourable environment for them to grow.

Talent will increasingly be equipped with new world functional and leadership capabilities, and the ability to leverage and work alongside advanced technologies.

The pandemic spotlighted the focus on the overall wellbeing of employees. This will continue with aspects like the prioritisation of physical and mental health, work-life balance and work models that allow scope for flexibility, becoming the norm in the industry.

For the Indian pharma industry to be future-ready and future-relevant, I envision and am hopeful of an industry-wide culture that is rooted in a strong sense of purpose, innovation and wellbeing that will in turn create a motivated and holistically equipped workforce.  

What are some of the challenges faced by the pharmaceutical sector vis-a-vis talent?

Employees and potential talent are seeking workplaces that look after their holistic development. This is inclusive of not only their professional growth but also their personal wellbeing.

Additionally, they are increasingly leaning towards organisations that are evolving with the times and go beyond the pursuit of profits alone to contribute to the greater good of communities and the planet.

At Cipla, our relentless focus on building a workplace that is truly progressive on all fronts – right from pursuing a meaningful larger purpose and creating a culture of meritocracy and inclusion, to continuously equipping our talent with new-age and leadership skills for growth and caring for their wellbeing - has held us in good stead.

Even through the most challenging periods that we have seen as an industry like the Covid-19 pandemic, these consistent efforts have gone a long way.

And I firmly believe that sustained investments and efforts to build a truly enabling work environment is what contributes to this and safeguards organisations from talent-related issues.

How is Cipla moving to build a meaningful workplace culture and prepare employees for the future of work?

As an organisation, we have reimagined ourselves towards becoming a global healthcare organisation that continues to be rooted in our core purpose of ‘Caring for life’. Our people are the biggest enablers of this vision and we continually look for ways to bring about meaningful transformation in the organisation for them and through them.

We adopted an organisation-wide Integrated Talent Management approach that offers enhanced functionalities to identify and nurture talent, to plan succession for identified roles, as well as for career planning of key talent, making Cipla future ready.

Some of these key programmes are:

Cipla Leadership Ascent Programme (CLAP) and Accelerated Capability Enhancement (ACE): We have partnered with Cornell, Institut Européen d'Administration des Affaires (INSEAD), Indian School of Business, Singapore Management University, and other renowned universities to strengthen the skills of mid to senior leaders.

Cipla University (CU): It is our multi-faceted learning engine that has a network of academies dedicated to functional areas like supply chain, manufacturing, R&D, sales and marketing, quality, and has a unique learning approach with multiple learning interventions.

Leadx: This is a programme designed in-house that helps in building enterprise-leadership capabilities in our managers

We also remain committed to an inclusive culture that celebrates diversity and equips every employee for success. We formed the Inclusion & Diversity Council to foster a truly diverse and inclusive workforce.

Our #EqualCipla programme was launched across geographies under the aegis of this Council, to build an equitable workplace. Several initiatives have been  introduced as part of this, which includes:

Focusing on gender diverse profiles: We have maintained a constant focus on having more gender-diverse profiles for hiring at all levels. So far, we have a 13% gender diversity ratio in India and aim to reach 20% by 2024. Our rotacap packing line at unit I of our Sikkim site and bulk packing line at unit III and IV of our Goa site are completely managed by women colleagues

#EqualCiplaEqualVoices networking platform: We introduced this programme to encourage open and honest conversations on inclusion and enable Ciplaites (Cipla employees and co-workers) to connect, share and learn from varied experiences. We also invite external speakers and host interactive virtual conversations on the importance of support systems at work, equal parenting, empathetic leadership, differently-abled and LGBTQ inclusion, as part of this initiative

Incorporating flexibility: We recently launched ‘Flexi Field Days’, a policy that offers women in our field two days of flexibility to work from home. We are the only pharmaceutical company to have introduced such a policy.  Since its initiation, the policy has empowered and enabled over 400 women colleagues in our India workforce to have a conducive work environment.

Shifting mindsets and driving behavioural change: We have conducted 18 unconscious bias workshops for over 535 mid-level and senior leaders, which has helped them become more conscious of their prejudices and break down their preconceived notions

Other key initiatives: At Cipla, we have extended our medical insurance policy for live-in partners, and same-sex partners. We have also introduced gender-neutral washrooms and accessibility facilities for differently-abled colleagues.

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Topics: Employee Engagement, Diversity, Talent Management, Employee Relations, #FutureOfWork, #DEIB

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