By Shaun Hawkins, Chief Diversity Officer, Eli Lilly and Company

As firms become increasingly affected by globalization, managers face the challenge of moving away from an ethnocentric mindset. How does your organization specifically train diversity leaders to think globally?

Because Lilly is a large global company, thinking globally already is a part of the way we approach our work. We also see global development opportunities as essential for our leaders, not just those with diversity in their titles. As a practice, we transfer employees from around the world for development.

In fact, 50 percent of our current top leaders at corporate headquarters in Indianapolis are from outside the United States. In addition, more than half of our employees work outside of the United States, and they are an integral part of teams planning our HR and diversity initiatives and sharing best practices. We all learn from each other.

One of the challenges organizations face with global diversity is identifying what type or scope of diversity is important and relevant in specific countries. Can you take us through the process of how your organization determines this scope?

With Lilly products marketed in 143 countries globally, we employ a diverse, global workforce. For our employees globally, embracing diversity means understanding, respecting, and valuing differences, including but not limited to race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, work style, national origin, and age. From a corporate perspective, we emphasize the importance of diversity and inclusion and integrate those principles into our global policies, programs and trainings. That said we know that diversity means different things around the world, and thus our affiliates consider the corporate perspective and then customize their own plans based on local demographics, issues and culture.

It is understood that in some parts of the world it is illegal to compile racial data of employees. How does this affect your ability to measure diversity in these areas and what other resources do you use to show change is taking place?

We know that diversity and inclusion are key drivers of employee engagement. Thus, we gain a lot of knowledge studying the results of an extensive survey we send annually to our employees. The Pulse survey has served as a scorecard for tracking corporate initiatives and progress on engagement, teamwork, accountability and getting to action for the past six years. In this survey we gain detailed understanding of how an employee “experiences” the company, specifically gaining insight as to whether a workgroup is seen to value diverse ideas and perspectives, an employee can be one’s self at work and whether there is a safe environment to speak up and share contrarian views.