Bobby Cipolla, a patient relationship manager at Novo Nordisk, helped create a community among lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and questioning (LGBTQ) employees at Novo Nordisk.
In this post, Bobby shares how and why starting employee groups that celebrate diversity and inclusion can benefit both the business and society.
Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are company-supported groups of employees who come together to enable diversity and inclusion efforts that help their memberships and the organization. When I saw other ERGs being formed, I thought there was an opportunity to initiate a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Questioning (LGBTQ) group to support this community of employees that share a common heritage at Novo Nordisk and to celebrate diversity.
I was at a sales meeting talking with Jay, a colleague of mine who I consider a professional mentor. We were discussing ERGs and the support they provide for employees. He was already part of an existing ERG, Veterans at Novo Nordisk (VANN). I learned a lot in that interaction and was inspired to get the ball rolling on what would eventually become NovoEqual. Jay suggested I connect with our Human Resources department to explore options. I took his advice and did just that. Little did I know that the unnamed group was already two weeks in the works. I got immersed immediately and was very energized by the potential for this group. My passion got noticed and I was invited to become part of its leadership team. That made me feel empowered and our team wasted no time to hit the ground running.
That was back in 2015. We started by doing some research and uncovered published studies that spoke about showing up as yourself to work and how being your "whole self" can significantly and positively increase productivity. We were drawn to this particular insight from M.V. Lee Badgett:
"Research shows that when organizations take steps to create a supportive work environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees, they achieve better business results in terms of retention, productivity, employee satisfaction and commitment."
That got us moving to set up NovoEqual as an official Novo Nordisk ERG. The fact that Employee Resource Groups are open to all employees helped us quickly establish our membership with more than 150 members in fairly short order. That number has since grown to more than 200 members and continues to expand each month. In the two years NovoEqual has existed, we’ve had great opportunities to take a philanthropic approach with our initiatives; partnering with comfortcases.org to help children in foster care ease their transition into homes, working with the Point Foundation for the past two years to contribute scholarships to LGBTQ students, and working with the 49 Fund in the wake of the Pulse Nightclub tragedy to turn a catastrophic event into something positive for the community by providing scholarships to LGBTQ students in the Central Florida area. We were official sponsors of the New York City Pride and New Jersey Pride events for the second year, highlighting Novo Nordisk’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.
Today, NNI has eight (8) ERGs, Women in Novo Nordisk, African Americans in Novo Nordisk, Veterans at Novo Nordisk, Hispanics and Latinos at Novo Nordisk, Millennials, Novo Asian Pacific Community, and A1Connection (Employees Living with Diabetes). Each of us has a distinct mission and vision but we collectively strive to educate, create awareness, drive business objectives, while demonstrating the power of embracing diversity. NovoEqual's vision highlights just that - "expanding tolerance, acceptance, and celebration of diversity within Novo Nordisk and the communities we serve."
Through the benefit of diversity, we can become a stronger, more robust organization of individuals who rely on the strengths of different cultures and backgrounds to solidify our foundation and strengthen our corporate reputation. And most importantly, to better meet the needs of the diverse patients we serve.