2018 BBA Winner Profile: Diversity & Inclusion - GSK Japan

Jan. 24, 2019

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Japan has become the first firm to scoop the BCCJ’s Diversity & Inclusion British Business Award (BBA), at the BCCJ’s red carpet gala on November 2.

Sponsored by the British Council, the new accolade is designed to commend any organisation (except not-for-profit organisations) that “has driven exceptionally effective diversity and inclusion initiatives, services or solutions in Japan over the past 18 months.”

GSK Japan was recognised for fostering an environment that welcomes people with varying knowledge, perspectives, experience and working styles via its new state-of-the-art workplace and its development of family-friendly programmes that enhance staff health and wellbeing.

Judges also noted the firm’s efforts to attain gender parity in its mid and senior levels of management by empowering more women to take positions of responsibility. GSK Japan is actively working to increase the number of female managers at its head office. At year-end 2018, 28% of managers were female, compared to Japan’s average of 7.8%. What’s more, five of the 17 members of the GSK Japan Executive Team were female.

Making spaces inclusive

GSK Japan’s new head office in Minato Ward’s Akasaka Intercity Air hit the headlines in 2018, when it was awarded a Nikkei New Office Award for providing employees with diverse ways to work, including greater opportunities for collaboration and work-life balance.

The 1,500 employees can make use of hot-desking spaces as well as meeting rooms of various sizes and open spaces for both interaction and independent work. Round-the-clock catering and internal green spaces ensure staff can work and relax, according to their needs.

There is also infrastructure to promote inclusivity. Braille blocks at all floors, meeting room entrances and staircases support visually impaired staff and guests, while transcription equipment is available for hearing-impaired staff. Other features include universal toilets for all and meeting rooms with wheelchair-friendly doors.

The new barrier-free workplace has been welcomed, particularly by the firm’s 44 differently abled staff, among whom are a London Paralympian gold medallist and a Deaflympian.

Digital technology, meanwhile, allows internal communications, such as town hall meetings, to be held in both Japanese and English.

Flexible working

With the adoption of family-friendly programmes, GSK Japan “has been implementing and enhancing programmes that enable employees to continue their career at GSK, even as they move into different life stages,” said a representative of the firm.

These programmes include paternity leave of up to two years for male and female staff and one year of leave to care for an elderly relative. Staff can also shorten their working hours to accommodate childcare arrangements (until their child finishes the fourth grade of elementary school) or care for an elderly relative (for up to three years).

The firm also provides flexible working hours without core hours and work from home capability up to four times a week, for any employee.

Impacting the community

For GSK Japan, these steps are strategic, designed to secure the pharmaceutical giant’s business in the long term. By creating a diverse and inclusive workplace, it aims to foster employee engagement, attract and retain talent and generate innovation. What’s more, it hopes its example will “contribute to the needed evolution of the employment model in Japan.”

“We hope our initiatives in D&I will positively impact the community, and the whole industry will work together with mutual respect, to better deliver benefit to patients,” said a representative. “GSK Japan is committed to continuously support and promote D&I in society through business and other initiatives as part of the company DNA.”

These initiatives include staff’s participation in a Rainbow Pride Parade sponsored by GSK’s affiliate ViiV Healthcare, which specialises in HIV treatment, and a booth to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS and HIV testing.

About 60% of all staff also take part in GSK’s Orange Day, whereby staff are granted a day’s leave to volunteer with a charity or non-governmental organisation. Popular activities so far have been summer camps for children with disabilities and para-sports matches that, in 2018, included blind football and wheelchair rugby.

GSK Japan also supports a wheelchair basketball team in Tochigi Prefecture, where its manufacturing site is located.

D&I as a strategic measure

Speaking of winning the BBA, GSK Japan said: “We believe this award is a testimonial to GSK Group’s efforts in embodying how to live our lives and in continuously striving to improve staff’s professionalism by creating a modern workplace where every single employee feels supported and proud to give the best of themselves every day, which is rooted in our D&I policy.”

“GSK Group is very honoured to win this award as we believe building mutual respect and trust—both internally and externally—by promoting the creation of an organisation with diversity and inclusiveness as a strategic policy is crucial to our long-term success.” 

Produced by Sterling Content for the BCCJ