Carol Malysz, Executive Director, RI Bio | Roundtable Moderator

Embracing diversity expands perspectives by incorporating a variety of ideas and viewpoints. This fosters the development of more robust solutions, yields superior outcomes and optimizes productivity, innovation and creativity.  A workforce characterized by diversity not only cultivates content and fulfilled employees but also engenders a sense of respect among customers. Managers, in turn, gain enhanced access to a broader range of talents and skillsets, crucial for the flourishing of their organizations. Furthermore, a diverse workforce aligns more closely with the varied demographics of the served population, thereby fortifying an organization’s ability to fulfill its overarching mission. Join us for a discussion with Amgen leaders on the significance of diversity and witness its tangible impact within Amgen’s operations.

1. What does diversity, equity and inclusion mean to you and why are they important, in your opinion?

Imaris Viera Vazquez
Director, Human Resources
& ARI HR Site Lead

Imaris: To me, diversity is the foundation of a strong culture, in which different voices, forms, colors all have the same opportunities and rights to be heard, respected and considered. With increased diversity comes increased levels of understanding, growth and ultimately, success. Creating a safe environment where all employees can bring their true selves to work has not always been a top priority for companies. The progress we have made over the past several decades is a DE&I milestone to celebrate!

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Kim: Diversity, equity and inclusion are foundational principles in my own value set and are deeply ingrained in Amgen’s mission, purpose and values, as well. Each concept of ‘diversity,’ ‘equity’ and ‘inclusion’ have different meaning to me, but the three are interconnected. Diversity celebrates what each person brings that is unique and different – and inclusion provides the framework for embracing diversity, authentically and wholly. Equitable policies create optimal conditions to ensure equal opportunities to succeed, regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, age, disability or any other protected status. It is critical that we have equitable processes and practices across all of the steps in the employee lifecycle.

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Chris: To me, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is how we as a company ensure that employees can be their best selves at work. It is an admission that we are not only workers, but people as well. Our differences and ideas are what make each of us valuable to the company, and these facets are celebrated instead of being “left at the door.” Companies like Amgen that promote DEI initiatives encourage their employees to be their best, authentic selves in and out of the workplace – and that is not only important to the company’s success, it is integral. 

2. How well does HR work toward hiring candidates from underrepresented groups?

Imaris: For the past few years, Amgen Rhode Island has worked to develop a diverse and inclusive talent pipeline to recruit, develop and retain a workforce that is representative of the local communities we serve. We continue to take deliberate action to build long-term solutions and alternatives, such as providing learning experiences in STEM for middle school students, work experiences for high school interns, and college internships targeting universities and technical schools with a high population of underrepresented groups.

Kim Cordeiro
Senior Manager,
Human Resources

Kim: At Amgen, we challenge ourselves to continually analyze and improve our talent acquisition and internal development programs to ensure that we provide equal opportunities and are sourcing as diverse a candidate pool as possible. These efforts are replicated in our talent pipeline programs, such as internship and rotational opportunities. In this effort, we leverage our relationships with our partners such as NSBE (National Society of Black Engineers) to provide feedback. Additionally, Amgen implements and publishes a global strategy each year, aimed at creating a more inclusive workforce.

Chris: HR does an excellent job of ensuring that Amgen is recruiting and hiring from a large, diverse pool of candidates. In partnership with our Employee Resource Groups, HR plays an integral role in local community outreach efforts, particularly among underrepresented groups. From providing STEM labs to high school students in underserved communities to volunteering with LGBTQIA+ organizations across the state, ARI is unwavering in its commitment to social justice and equity in its hiring practices.

3. What is the most challenging aspect of working in a diverse environment?

Imaris: Trying to reach and educate every employee at every level about tolerance and respect can be challenging. We want our team members to be aware of biases, embrace diversity of thought, and work together to ensure psychological safety. Providing this psychological safe space for all staff is an ongoing commitment.

Kim: The most challenging aspect is likely ensuring solid communication, continually looking out for any behaviors counter to Amgen’s values around DI&B and addressing those head-on as a leadership team. It is critical that we hold ourselves accountable to our values at every level of the organization.

Chris Lopes
Senior Manufacturing Associate,
Manufacturing Support

Chris: I think balance is challenging. With everything going on in the world, and the inevitable stressors of work, it can be difficult to be kind to yourself. Finding the ability to balance and pull back from what you are doing to focus on what matters is incredibly important and I am glad that Amgen gives us that space.

4. Are there any additional DEI suggestions or strategies you would recommend? 

Imaris: One additional DEI suggestion is to embrace activities that are designed and addressed exclusively for diverse group members. Sometimes, in the effort to bring everyone together, the common thread at the core of the group may get lost. Celebrating our uniqueness and what we each bring to the table is what DEI is all about.

Kim: We are strong in this space, evidenced by our consistent high scores on our employee pulse survey. Our team members recognize Amgen’s commitment to diversity. At Amgen, employees are immersed in and have numerous opportunities to celebrate each other’s cultures via activities sponsored by our vibrant Employee Resource Groups. I might suggest other companies consider implementing a formal ideas program, where employees can bring creative and innovative ideas for improvement to the workplace.

Chris: The biggest piece of advice I can give to employees on DEI strategies is to just dive in. Explore yourself and others and see where you fit in. Put yourself in different situations and learn about different cultures. It will help you understand and be more empathetic to people, and allow you to see your colleagues as people. This puts things into perspective and helps us all to be better humans.