Diversity in Supply-Chain: People-focus, pragmatic and professionally connected

Including shift workers in D&I programmes, addressing Unconscious Biases practically with management teams and integrating Diversity in HR-tools and in everyday work reality. What sounds like a miracle agenda happened at Johnson & Johnson in Switzerland, within a space of two years.

We collaborate productively and respectfully if we value our differences and know how to deal with them. In 2014, this idea led to the decision to invite all employees, including from the shop floor, of the Schaffhausen Jansen Supply Chain Site to participate in a dialogue about D&I.

  • How can we leverage differences in our workforce?
  • What do our teams already do to use diversity as an asset?
  • How can we further improve the inclusion of colleagues with diverse backgrounds?

These were some of the questions that 42 teams with a total of almost 400 employees discussed during 11 dialogue sessions between November 2014 and June 2015. “The positive reactions of our colleagues confirmed that we had chosen the right approach”, D&I site champion, Christine Schweiger gladly commented. She has been coordinating the site D&I activities since early 2014 and is a member of the regional EMEA D&I Council.

Supply Chain managers know that it is not an easy thing to include shop floor or shift workers to such an extent in programmes or initiatives. At Johnson & Johnson, a global accountability for D&I within the Supply Chain organisation as well as the personal commitment and leadership of the site General Manager helped: For Claudio Cescato, the dialogue sessions provided a credible foundation for continuous improvement. “Our business goals for productivity, quality and engagement require a sustained focus on our employees’ individual competences and personalities”, he said, illustrating his long-term motivation. The aim should be to integrate all levels and relevant functions in one holistic D&I agenda, the General Manager added.

A solid foundation of D&I practices at the Janssen Supply Chain Schaffhausen Site

Examples from the participants at the dialogue sessions show: In an open-minded Credo culture and due to concrete inclusion activities, differences are already often experienced as an advantage. According to many employees, culturally diverse or inter-generational teams, cross-departmental ‘why’ trainings, buddy or mentoring schemes as well as joined breaks or leisure activities already provide good opportunities to explore different perspectives in a productive way. HR practices were also mentioned positively; these are coordinated across sectors and across the country. “Our flex time policy actually presents a competitive advantage”, HR Director, Ellen Driesen, quotes from the results of the dialogue sessions. Ideas and suggestions from employees included more specific appreciation or inclusion in the daily work culture.  “We consider the ideas from our employees as a mandate for us managers”, site manager Cescato comments the dialogue session results. Shortly after the delivery of the report, he had an in-depth discussion with all his site management board about how to improve the everyday work culture in a way that each employee and the workforce altogether felt responsible for and committed to quality and productivity goals. “It is our mission to transpose even difficult objectives into feasible and human processes and programmes”, Cescato said. Together with D&I Champion, Christine Schweiger, the management board designed next steps.

Engaging Manager and HR: The big levers for D&I

Common themes were found across the thematic foci cultures, gender and generations. Therefore, one of Johnson & Johnson’s global D&I priorities was addressed next: Unconscious Bias was going to be discussed in the following steps, initially with the top management levels. In interactive and engaging workshops, leadership teams should not only learn about details around the emergence and dynamics of different forms of Unconscious Biases, they should also develop their own ideas how to practically mitigate unwanted side-effects that could occur. As for the dialogue session, Janssen Supply Chain Schaffhausen selected the implementation concept of Cologne-based European Diversity Research & Consulting. Their recommendation combined scientific evidence, presented through clear models, and practical approaches that integrated existing J&J tools and frameworks. The workshop framework could also be tailored for additional management levels including supervisors. To reach this target groups, a D&I module with an Unconscious Bias focus was included in a current training initiative. The module is deployed through a train-the-trainer approach and strengthens the discussion about diversity and unconscious biases as part of the daily practice. The programme aims at increasing the awareness for D&I in practice and in the execution of HR processes.

Holistic nature of D&I: Connected initiatives

“Diversity and Inclusion is our tool to combine the interests of employees and managers and to recruit diverse talent, to develop and to retain them”, HR Director, Ellen Driesen, summarises their overall approach. The Talent Acquisition Team also benefits from a country-wide initiative to promote D&I in recruiting and they ensure candidate pools are reflecting the diversity or the respective labour markets. And it goes without saying that managers and employees from the Schaffhausen site participate in the Johnson & Johnson’s Swiss Mentoring Programme. Other D&I activities promote mutual understanding of employees from different backgrounds in every setting. At the canteen, for example, a Diversity table encourages, but not mandates, conversations. This shall be turned into a space for themed activities. The company is also using the ‘time to think’ approach to promote inclusion as part of the corporate culture.

Comprehensive site programme becomes a role model

The approach of the Schaffhausen Supply Chain Site is both strategic and unusual and hence attracted attention in other parts of Johnson & Johnson. As content and conceptual approaches were aligned with the company’s Global Office of Diversity & Inclusion, six other Supply Chain Sites in the EMEA region were interested in the programme. They start with D&I workshops with an Unconscious Bias focus for their leadership teams. “We gladly accept to serve as both pioneers and role models”, Christine Schweiger comments. She represents the Schaffhausen Site on the JSC EMEA D&I Council, which is sponsored by Claudio Cescato. He is convinced: “D&I, in a broad sense, will continue to support our agenda in different ways and a various sites over the years to come!”