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A commitment to creating a culture of inclusivity at Pfizer Canada

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

by Cole Pinnow, President, Pfizer Canada

Today, I am proud to share that Pfizer Canada has been recognized as one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers for 2022, as announced by Mediacorp Canada Inc. This award recognizes companies that provide their employees exceptional workplaces with initiatives that welcome and embrace differences, whether they be cultural background, gender, sexual orientation or disability.

Our work to improve diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is always about more than just implementing programs. Our DEI efforts represent a deep commitment to our team and our workplace culture. As a company, we support our colleagues’ efforts to drive meaningful DEI-focused change in their day-to-day activities and feel like they are creating a truly inclusive culture.

At Pfizer Canada, we really want inclusivity to be embedded in the culture of our organization. We facilitate this by asking our colleagues to take ownership of and accountability for these efforts. Real change begins when we are all invested in the process. If the task were carried out only by the human resources group, it’s not going to have nearly the impact, as opposed to having colleagues who are championing and highlighting those resources. Additionally, Pfizer as a global company has vast DEI resources that support education, conversation and improvement at the local level, and we take full advantage of that additional support. That’s why we’ve taken a hybrid approach, where we leverage global resources but really ask our people to own it. We want our colleagues to feel they’ve created this culture that is inclusive.

“Diversity, equity and inclusivity must never just be corporate catchphrases. Instead, they must be lived every day by our employees, woven into every action we take, and articulated with solid and effective initiatives across the company that make our colleagues feel welcome and motivated to do more. Recognizing the immense value behind DEI has become an important part of our workplace culture and continues to contribute to high rates of colleague engagement and retention.” - Laura Larbalestier, Vice President, People Experience, Pfizer Canada

DEI initiatives at Pfizer Canada

Diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives have become an important cornerstone for many aspects of Pfizer Canada’s operations, from employee recruitment, development and retention to supplier selection and external partnerships. To increase efforts around DEI this year, Pfizer Canada also created a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) community of practice, led by our colleagues. These individuals went above and beyond to commit additional time outside of their job descriptions to develop and build-out three key streams, which focused on improving DEI efforts within our workplace. The streams focused on:

  1. Building a culture of belonging

  2. Colleagues & leadership – developing a talented, diverse workforce while promoting inclusive leadership

  3. External stakeholders – advancing DEI through partnerships

The first priority for our culture group was to survey our entire workforce to set a baseline on how people felt. One outcome of the survey was the establishment of a local LGBTQ+ employee resource group, in addition to an existing one for women, while also working to raise awareness of DEI concepts, as well as events such as Black History Month and National Truth and Reconciliation Day.

Meanwhile, our colleagues & leadership group initiated inclusive training for managers across our organization, and revamped Pfizer’s summer intern program, in cooperation with a specialized agency, where 100 per cent of students hired came from underprivileged and/or underrepresented backgrounds.

In addition to the activities undertaken in the streams above, our external stakeholders workstream led Pfizer Canada to fund research by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation on health care disparities that underrepresented groups may face. Pfizer Canada also teamed up with the Legacy of Hope Foundation to help raise awareness about disparities among Indigenous Peoples.

As we look ahead to 2023, we have set a goal to have 30 per cent of our senior leadership coming from underrepresented backgrounds.

An ongoing commitment to improving DEI

Pfizer Canada continues to look outward, actively seeking opportunities for external engagement and partnerships on the topic of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and internally, we continue to work towards creating an environment where everyone feels safe and has a sense of belonging. However, for this change to create a profound impact on society at large, the mental shift must occur beyond the boundaries of our own organizations. We need to bring this dialogue into our homes, with family and friends. We also must remain committed to seeking out new ways to learn while identifying ways we can improve our own understanding of DEI and the role we can play in achieving it.

To truly strengthen diversity, equity and inclusion, governments and health systems, companies, and patient organizations must all work to lift current existing barriers whenever possible and be committed to a lifelong journey of ongoing education around improving DEI while addressing our own internal biases.

For more information, I invite you to read our official press release.

Cole Pinnow is President of Pfizer Canada. Follow Cole on LinkedIn and Twitter for his perspective on various topics, including the pharmaceutical industry, the life science sector and matters related to Pfizer Canada.