How Thermo Fisher enhances employee engagement through employee resource groups
We chat with the leads of Thermo Fisher's Business Resource Groups (BRG) and explore the how to start an ERG, growing memberships, benefits of joining and why these groups are important to increasing employee engagement and fostering community within a business.
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Today, I've got four special guests from Thermo Fisher. My first guest, her name is Mymy Lu. She's the director of Diversity and Inclusion. I've also got Patricia Hoekman, who is the Global Lead Possibilities BRG, Senior IP Litigation Paralegal. We've got Kevin Robinson, who is the African Heritage BRG, Co-Lead Vaccines Quality Assurance Auditor I. Finally, but not definitely not least, Lee Pullan, who is a PhD Global Lead Women's Empowerment BRG, Senior Manager, Application Scientist. Thank you very much all for joining me today.
Before we get into the conversation around employee resource groups, maybe you can all tell me a little bit more about Thermo Fisher.
MyMy Lu (01:13):
Sure. I'll start here. Thanks again for having us. Thermo Fisher Scientific is excited to be a part of your show.
We are the world leader in serving science with a mission to enable our customers to make the world healthier, cleaner, and safer.
We've got over 100,000 colleagues worldwide. Everyday, I get to work with those phenomenal individuals.
But I don't know a whole lot about the business, alternative to my colleagues who are actually doing the work on the ground. Lee, I'll start with you.
Lee Pullan: Global Lead, Women's Empowerment BRG
Lee Pullan (01:42):
Thanks, Mymy. Hi, I'm Lee Pullan. My day job is to work with our application scientists within our electron microscopy business.
We make very large microscopes to look at really small things. I have an amazing team here and I'm based in Hillsborough, Oregon.
In my day job, I'm the Global Lead for the Women's Empowerment BRG.
It is my responsibility to help foster an environment where women have a place and are developed, retained, empowered, and encouraged to speak up and promoted global.
Patricia Hoekman: Global Lead, PossAbilities BRG
Patricia Hoekman (02:16):
My name's Patricia Hoekman and I'm the Global Lead for the Possibilities BRG. My primary job at Thermo Fisher is in the company's Senior Intellectual Property Paralegal.
What that means is Thermo Fisher has thousands and thousands of patents. We have a lot of trade secrets and copyrights, and I spend more than 80% of my time defending and promoting the company's intellectual property anywhere globally in the world where it needs to be asserted or defended.
That's what I do. Aside from my work as the Global Lead for Possibilities, our Possibilities Resource Group is aligned with disability advocacy.
It's open to any colleague in the company regardless of whether or not they identify as disabled.
Our purpose is to promote awareness of people with differing abilities and to create a community of support for them and their families.
As I said, it's open to anyone in the company regardless of your identification as being disabled, if you really just want to learn more about disability advocacy, find resources, or just belong to a community of support within the company.
Kevin Robinson: Co-Lead, African Heritage BRG
Kevin Robinson (03:50):
Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Kevin Robinson. Again, thank you, Karl, for the opportunity to be here.
For my day job as a Quality Assurance Auditor, what we normally do is we're just reviewing the data, making sure that the non-clinical and clinical data is up to par.
We have to make sure that everything was... Documentation is filled out correctly, that there's some type of justification that the story all makes sense.
Of course, we want to make sure that the data is good data and that we're not just putting anything out there to our clients.
That could go anywhere as clinical auditing, stat reports, method validations, things like that. As part of my BRG as Karl mentioned earlier, I am the co-lead for African Heritage.
What we are looking to do, we always looking to create an environment as far as advancing African-Americans in their careers and their personal professional development.
A lot of the times, we're doing that through, I facilitate the conversations like our safe spaces. We provide an opportunity for not just members of our BRG, but allies to come by and to have conversations with anything, where they could be, or some instance like the Buffalo instance or as far as how was your day, things like that.
We do a lot of professional development series, Lunch and Learn series, virtual homecoming. Matter of fact, today we have a DJ for our Juneteenth presentation that's happening a little bit later.
That's a lot of the things that we'd like to do. Whether it is virtual or hybrid, but we're also doing some things that are face-to-face and looking to always grow and make sure our members are succeeding and getting the resources they need.
Karl Yeh (05:29):
Well, thank you very much for that introduction. But let's get right into it then. Before we get into the specifics of Thermo Fisher, can you tell me what is an ERG?
What is an ERG?
MyMy Lu (05:43):
An ERG or Employee Resource Group is an employee-led group of colleagues who come together, create a community, create connections among each other, to foster diversity and drive inclusion within the workplace.
Oftentimes, that also translates to our work externally, which I know a lot of your guests talk about in your show as well.
For us, we have nine global Business Resource Groups. We call them Business Resource Groups because as groups mature within their DNI journeys that they start out, you may hear some companies call them Affinity Networks.
Some of them call them Employee Resource Groups. In that beginning stages, colleagues are really coming together around each shared affinity, right?
To what you heard from all my colleagues earlier is about finding that connection, creating that sense of belonging with each other. But as the groups mature, they start to get really aligned to our business.
We are 10 years into our resource group journey at Thermo Fisher.
All groups are now transitioned to Business Resource Groups because they are aligned to what we do around Diversity and Inclusion, whether it's supporting our colleagues, bringing colleagues in, diverse colleagues in, supporting them, developing them, or supporting what we do in the community, looking at how we really educate also colleagues who are not part of that affinity and creating allyships.
That's a long way of saying Employee Resource Groups or Business Resource Groups are networks of employees who come together around a shared affinity to try to foster diversity, drive inclusion.
Karl Yeh (07:26):
For Thermo Fisher then,
What's the purpose of Thermo Fisher's resource group and what affinity do your members share?
Patricia Hoekman (07:33):
I'll start with that. Thank you, Karl.
As I mentioned a little bit briefly, the purpose of the possibilities is this resource group really is to promote awareness of an understanding of employees who have differing abilities and also to create a community of support for them and their families.
The ways that we do that are by aligning ourselves with the pillars for our Global Diversity and Inclusion, we really strive to foster a sense of belonging for our colleagues that are part of our resource group.
We also want to drive impact and positive impact for the community.
We support our talent and try to help by developing talent within the company, also by helping to do targeted recruiting externally for disabled potential colleagues.
One of the biggest things that we do is try to provide resources, education, and promote allyship through our group.
Kevin Robinson (08:46):
Yeah. I can take it next. At least for our group, for African Heritage, a little bit history behind it, we were started just 2020.
It happened maybe a couple weeks after the George Floyd incident. There was a message that came out just from some leadership and a couple members of PPDs just felt that the message could have been a little bit stronger, a little bit more detailed.
They had those conversations with those leaders. From there, it was called Bold at the time. As we were acquired by Thermo Fisher... Excuse me. It became African Heritage.
A lot of the events that we still put on, like I mentioned earlier, we're still doing to this day. But we are looking, like Patricia said, we're looking to always drive impact.
We're always looking to reach out to our members and make sure that they're providing input into some of the activities that we're looking to do.
As far as just the growth of our BRG is, it's been organic. I mean, a lot of people have been reaching out. I've realized the more events that we do, the more people that are coming out to find out more about what we do and who was involved in the board.
Ever since we've joined with Thermo Fisher, we've had a lot of connections and a lot of people on finding out more and more about what we do and being aligned with Thermo Fisher.
Lee Pullan (10:10):
For the Women's Empowerment BRG, we're actually one of the oldest ERGs or BRGs at Thermo Fisher Scientific.
We're recently celebrating 10 years.
Our role really is committed...
We are committed to making Thermo Fisher Scientific one of the world's most admired companies, purely because we are here fostering the advancement of women.
We want to build that corporate culture where we recruit women employees, we value women employees, we develop and retain them, we empower them, and we promote them.
I think one of the biggest challenges as women is really speaking up for yourself.
What we try to do and what we're doing now going forward is really building that allyship, helping others speak up for women, really making sure that we are promoting each other, and making sure whether it's an advocate who is male or who doesn't identify as being woman, they can stand up and speak for us as well.
As well as attracting new women into the company, we also want to retain the women we have and enable them to grow in their careers, whether that be upper leadership career path and advancing their careers or just feeling really comfortable in the role that they have within the organization, and just give them those development opportunities.
Again, we're here doing things virtually, on site if we can, and really just enabling a safe space for women to come together to connect with each other and to find those mentors and coaches and, most importantly, those allies for them.
Karl Yeh (11:37):
That sounds tremendous in terms of the type of groups that employees of Thermo Fisher have in terms of the resources that they can go to.
Other BRG's / Employee Resource Groups at Thermo Fisher?
MyMy Lu (11:56):
In addition to the three that are represented here, we have 49 API voices, which is our Asian group.
For those who are not familiar, 49 actually represents the 49 countries within Asia. We have a family support Business Resource Group that is all about supporting working parents and caregivers.
We all know, given especially with the pandemic, that's really shown a light on the challenges that folks have while trying to work and care for their loved ones. Right?
Our Gender Gen one, this is all about driving generational diversity within our workplace.
We have a tremendous organization and so much knowledge to be shared.
This group is really about how do we find ways to really bring the best out of each generation and drive support for one another across the generations.
We then have Ola, which is the group for our Latino and Hispanic heritage colleagues, similar to what Kevin shared and others, we... This is all about driving the advancement of Latino Hispanic colleagues within the business. We have Pride Plus, which is our LGBT group.
Finally, our Veterans Group, which is support for veterans and military families and networks.
Karl Yeh (13:14):
Just a quick follow up here. If, let's say, a group of employees wanted to start up a new BRG in Thermo Fisher, is there a process that happens or is it just them gathering and starting it?
How to start a BRG at Thermofisher?
MyMy Lu (13:27):
Yeah. Every company's a little different, but probably at the core of it, it's really about the colleagues. Right?
Groups of employees will come together and say, "Hey, I am looking to find people who are like me.
Call it XYZ affinity." Right? Whether it's their race, ethnicity, gender, all of that. They'll usually come together and approach your DNI team and say, "Hey, we want to form a group." These groups are sanctioned by the company.
They're funded by the company as well. What we do then is vet them and think through, "Okay, what is the purpose the group is trying to achieve and how would a group help them get to those particular goals?"
They also have to do the leg work of finding executive sponsor. Right?
All of my colleagues on this convo, getting support from the top is extremely important in terms of getting our goals met and clearing barriers to the work that we want to do.
Again, starts with employees wanting to come together, then they come to DNI and talk about what it is that they're trying to achieve.
If we have the right support, we usually form the group and let them take off because that's where really the success and the magic happens for our workplace.
Karl Yeh (14:41):
I'm curious to know, how did all get prompted to join and really... Or get involved, and what prompted you to actually join your BRGs?
When did you first get involved in the BRG and what prompted you to join?
Patricia Hoekman (14:54):
I'll go ahead and start with that. I have been with Thermo Fisher for 11 and a half years.
My role in IP Litigation is incredibly busy all the time.
But being based out of the Carlsbad campus, we had three different buildings.
At one point, we had five different buildings spread out across the area.
I noticed that the Carlsbad campus, there were some opportunities to improve the disabled experience there physically on campus. In 2019, I became aware of the Possibilities Employee Resource Group at that time.
I reached out to the global leadership and mentioned some of the ideas that I had about how Carlsbad could align more closely with providing a better experience for disabled colleagues.
The leadership said, "Well, that's great. Why don't you start a chapter?" I said, "No, thanks. I'm way too busy to start a chapter."
I thought about it and I realized that if there was going to be impactful change within the company and that the company was going to empower me to move the needle on that change, then I really had a responsibility to start that chapter.
I did start the chapter in Carlsbad in the end of 2019, and then we really started taking off in 2020.
I was just amazed at how many people really felt connected to our chapter and our resource group because they told me that they felt seen and represented for the first time at the company.
That to see company leadership really participate, our Carlsbad site leader is the executive sponsor for the Carlsbad chapter, and it really was very moving for me.
That's how I got started with Possibilities and how I stayed with it throughout the pandemic and then transitioned into the global role in 2022.
Kevin Robinson (17:12):
How I got involved with African Heritage at the time, like I mentioned earlier, we're having an intersectionality presentation.
It really starts with that.
A couple years ago, another auditor on my team, we did a intersectionality presentation for the month of February. It was for Pride, but it's also Black FC Month at the time too. We did it for Pride and it was for Richmond site only.
I was only hybrid. I think it was right around the time when we were going COVID, working from home, and things like that.
Fast forward a couple weeks later, it was well-attended at the time, maybe 50, 60 people, but Kat Barrack, Senior Talent Acquisition for CRG, she reached out to myself and Michelle and said, "Hey, I heard about your presentation, thought it was really well. Do you want to do something globally for PPD?
For me, I take opportunities like that all the time. I was like, "Yeah, let's go ahead and let's do it."
It worked out for us. We had maybe 150, 200 people maybe on that call. A lot of board members were on the call at the time as well,
Bold board members. Well, African Heritage. Excuse me. I reached out to them and said, "Hey, I know I just did this as representative for you all.
I was part of the events committee but nothing really took place. Is there anything that I can do to get involved or to lead that committee?"
They said, "Well, actually your name's being thrown around as a board member so we're just going to jump you over the committee, just get you right into the board."
From there, I was just in the meetings. I kind of sat around a little bit, just wanted to observe, see how they operate.
I started speaking up a little bit, started talking and, boom, someone... Opportunity came available to be a chapter co-lead and I was thinking about it, but I didn't want to just always jump to the occasion.
Finally, one of my mentors in African Heritage then said, "You should do it. I think it's all yours."
From there, I just jumped up and did it and replaced somebody else for my old board position. I've been there for a couple months now.
Lee Pullan (19:25):
My story's a little bit different.
About five years ago, the company that I was working for was purchased by Thermo Fisher Scientific and I had the choice at the time to either leave the ship or join this amazing organization.
I wanted to find a way to network and to learn about my new peers, my new colleagues, people who now I could actually call up and ask for advice.
As I started talking with some of the new employees who were moved here to Hillsborough, they mentioned the ERGs or the BRGs and, in particular, the Women's.
I spoke with HR. Soon enough, I was also given that task of starting up a chapter here in Hillsborough.
It has been an amazing way to learn about the culture of Thermo Fisher Scientific, really enabled me to quickly embrace that culture, which was a little bit different than the smaller company that I had been part of.
It's just been an amazing opportunity for me to develop as well, but also connect with people that I would never have connected with in my day job. People, even here on this call, during my day jobs, we don't overlap.
But it's amazing, the friendships, the guidance, the coaching, the mentorship that I've been able to find over the last five years of being involved with the Women's BRG.
Patricia Hoekman (20:42):
I think each one of us has talked about how we came into the company.
Having been part of broader Thermo for so long, I was part of Life Technologies originally it was acquired by Thermo Fisher in 2014.
I never really seen an evolution of Thermo Fisher's corporate culture.
Lee mentioned, when they were acquired, she had the choice to stay or maybe transition to a different organization.
I really have been thinking about the same thing, probably in the last four or five years as Lee.
Seeing Thermo Fisher really embrace involving their corporate culture and developing their Employee Resource Groups, and really committing to diversity and being more inclusive, really prompted me to stay at Thermo Fisher actually and to turn down other offers, and really see where Thermo Fisher is completely committed to achieving their goal of being one of the world's most admired companies.
But recognizing through their Diversity and Inclusion efforts, through the ERGs and other initiatives, that admiration comes from within, not just from without.
That really has prompted me to admire Thermo Fisher's journey and to really want to be a part of it more and stay with the company.
Karl Yeh (22:14):
That sounds amazing. In terms of the how you got involved and the openness of Thermo Fisher for all employees. What are some of the benefits that you've got out of your BRGs?
Benefits being a part of your resource group?
Kevin Robinson (22:26):
Yeah. I'll say, for me, a lot of opportunities as far as, like I mentioned, just getting a mentor, having someone in an executive or higher up levels, having those people vouch for me and the work that I can do has worked wonders so far.
Not saying that I haven't, that my own team doesn't do that, because they do.
But like Lee mentioned, you come across people that you don't interact with during your daily jobs. Having those people to vouch for you has been wonderful.
I think it's also helped me as far as my visibility, we're doing this podcast.
I've mentioned I've been able to present. I've been on the welcome video for people PPD.
When people onboard, specifically for CRG at the time, my face would pop up.
I've been able to lead a professional development series with Minister Chris Fikry at the time who was working here.
For me to be a QA level one, interviewing the number two person of our opportunity... I mean, of our organization at the time, for me, it was life changing.
Got to ask him questions. I could also put that on my resume and, like I mentioned, just get visibility. Those are just some of the things that I've been able to do since then. I'm definitely thankful for the BRG and the opportunities.
Lee Pullan (23:47):
I mentioned a little bit about the benefits, the networks and everything, but one of the other huge gains that I've seen as being part of a BRG is not only having that network to work with, but really having the opportunity to test out and explore some different things that you might do in your day job, but not actually go and do it in your day job and risk changing or working for it or having it impact your merit increase or your performance.
But as part of the BRG, you can get involved, you can be leading it, you can actually just be a participant and you can be organizing events.
You can be tracking metrics, getting involved with finances, all kinds of things that maybe you are interested in, but you're not quite sure if you really love it enough to give up your day job for.
I've seen a lot of people as well, not only myself, but really step outside, take a risk, and enjoy it, and discover that actually being outside of your comfort zone is actually a lot of fun sometimes.
There's a lot of self-rewarding and self-satisfaction afterwards when you sit back and reflect as to what you've achieved being part of the BRGs.
Patricia Hoekman (24:55):
I agree both with Kevin and Lee, those are amazing reasons and I experienced some of that myself as well.
Personally, being able to participate in the BRG has given me an opportunity to really develop my leadership skills in a way that wasn't available through my primary job at Thermo Fisher in IP Litigation.
It's allowed me to grow and create a diverse leadership team across a lot of different interests, across a lot of different levels within the company, a lot of different geographies, to be able to connect with colleagues globally and to really find ways that I can improve my abilities as a mentor and to find mentees as Kevin, or to find a mentor for myself, as Kevin has mentioned, and really be able to expand and increase my role at Thermo Fisher.
Because being with the company for 11 and a half years, doing the same thing day after day, my work and my primary job can be very exciting sometimes.
But this really just added the depth to my experience at Thermo Fisher that really makes it rewarding for me, in a different way, to continue on this path with the company.
One of the things I really love is that Thermo Fisher, as an organization, builds colleagues and culture into its company Goal Tree.
Being able to see how my work aligns directly with the company goals and supporting that, really is very empowering to be able to tell people who are interested in coming into the BRG that what they are doing and what they want to do is supported by the company.
I think that's really very rewarding.
Karl Yeh (26:56):
Now, you've all mentioned about relationships that you've built through your BRGs and the resource group provide a lot of opportunities to network and connect.
Can you tell me a little bit more about the relationships you've formed in when you've gotten involved?
What relationships have you gained as part of your BRG?
Patricia Hoekman (27:15):
Myself, being in the Carlsbad area, our Carlsbad campus is very, very energetically involved in all of the resource groups where one of the campuses within the company that has a chapter for every one of our resource groups.
Being able to sit on that community leadership board while I was the chapter lead in Carlsbad was really fantastic.
It allowed me to build relationships across all of the different resource groups on campus, to develop relationships with the Carlsbad site leadership team, and really feel empowered to connect with people outside of my role.
With a company as large as Thermo Fisher, you can feel very siloed sometimes if you just start doing your primary job and you are in there working every day and you have your head down.
But being part of the resource groups has given me chances to connect with not just people who share the same affinity, but to really reach outside of those boundaries and understand different affinities.
I think those relationships are equally important for me to be able to see that, to develop my perspective and understanding for other people.
Lee Pullan (28:34):
As far as relationships, I think it's been fascinating.
I've had the opportunity to develop relationships across the entire organization as a chapter lead or as, now, the global lead.
A lot of people reach out to me and they can be some of our entry level staff, some of our staff who may have been here for many years.
They've come to me with questions and with challenges that they're facing and we talk it out and we find a way for them to either resolve it or to find the right person to speak to because they're not really sure maybe who to go to. I found that extremely rewarding.
But I've also had the opportunity to also speak and connect with some of our key executives within the organization and really learn from them and understand
- how they balance their day,
- how they get involved,
- how they prioritize,
- how they even do simple things like work with their executives on their outfit calendar schedule.
Just to little tips and tricks that they've managed to get into their daily life in order for them to be so successful.
Obviously, they're also fantastic sounding boards as we bring ideas to them and they bring back and reflect on what the company wants to be doing and what that longer term vision is for us as well.
I think I've really just enjoyed just the variety of employees and colleagues that I've had the opportunity to connect with in this role and as part of the BRGs.
Kevin Robinson (30:01):
Yeah. Just like what Patricia and Lee was saying, I meet a lot of relationships.
I mean the board, right now, we're virtual. It's lot of people in different areas. I'm located in Virginia, some people on our board are located in Maryland, North Carolina.
We're spread out through there.
But just being involved in the BRG has also opened up opportunities as far as the different businesses that were acquired throughout. I got to PPD about three years ago.
Knowing that now, that I'm a part of the African Heritage, and hearing how everyone else got here so, "Oh, okay, it was similar."
Someone's company might have been acquired by someone else, so this is a person you could reach out to or there's different organizations within PPD that was acquired.
Just having those people that you can just reach out to, like Lee was saying, is good.
I can just reach out to someone like, "Oh, you're interested in doing this? Let me patch you through with Lee. She can help you with here."
Or, "You want to do this? Let me put you in with Karl. He can help you with that."
Things like that, people have been able to do that for me now that I'm kind of well connected and, me, myself, not just a QA auditor but kind of indispensable with PPD or CRG and Thermo Fisher, my career's kind of just taken off from there.
I no longer look at people based on their titles.
I just talk to people and, so far, it's worked out. I just don't look at the titles and I just talk to yo. It's been good.
Karl Yeh (31:32):
Well, let's actually talk about your membership here and what were some of the activities or successes that have resonated with them?
What are some successes or activities that resonate with your members?
Patricia Hoekman (31:41):
I mentioned that when I started the Carlsbad chapter, it was really toward the very end of 2019, beginning of 2020.
We really started growing during the pandemic.
Our first big event was January of 2020 when we had done a neurodiversity learning session in Carlsbad. It was live and we had a full house.
There were close to 100 people.
We had four panelists that were in leadership in the Carlsbad campus, an external speaker.
I remember people coming and talking to me later and saying that they felt represented, that they saw leaders on the stage that were open and talking about their mental health, talking about being neurodivergent themselves or having a family member, and that they really felt empowered.
When I think about the successes for Possibilities, to me the success is that our colleagues feel that they belong at Thermo Fisher, that they feel that this is a place where they can be authentic and they don't have to hide who they are, and they can be fully themselves here.
The things that we try to do to create that sense is finding ways to amplify representation across the wide variety of different types of disabilities, and just allow people this safe space to share their stories and to feel connected to one another.
I think those are really the biggest benefits from Possibilities is we provide resources. Out of our two purposes, promoting awareness and then creating a community of support, I think the community of support really has been critical during the pandemic.
So much of what we've done is try to just help all of us across the company stay connected and not feel like we were just on our own working in our homes. It's been very important.
Lee Pullan (33:58):
For the Women's BRG, we've certainly seen a lot of events and, obviously, over the years, the in-person events, everybody appreciates.
But I think over the last couple of years, everybody's had to step up and sort of accept that the virtual world is the space that we can still connect with.
But it's finding ways within that to make sure that we're actually more than just 200 people or 1,000 people in a room.
It's technology that's really helped us stay connected and things where we've used breakout sessions in some of our virtual events have I think allowed us to stay closer to connected.
One of those is the #IamRemarkable.
It's a platform that we've used amongst multiple chapters. We've done it regionally and we're looking now to expand it across the globe.
But it's a space where women come together, or anybody comes together, and just shares their story and speaks up and says, "Why am I remarkable? What have I done today that I should be proud of?"
As I mentioned before, that's really something, as women, we're trying to continue to emphasize and to help them promote themselves.
The recent event that we did had so many people in it that those breakout rooms were hectic and crazy, but everybody was engaged and involved and just really loved it.
I don't think we can stop right now.
We've got to keep doing more of them and just get more people together.
As far as our events though, it's about bringing people together for the... Everybody loves free food, everybody loves a freebie pen.
That really entices people. But it's the discussions over the lunches, it's the discussions over the cup of tea or the coffee, or whatever beverage somebody drinks. I think we've seen those starting to come back now at our sites as more and more people have those drop-in sessions.
We've seen a lot of executives hosting drop-in sessions.
I think, again, our BRG members are really enjoying those because it's a time just to connect with them as humans, right? Understand them, have that little coffee chat with them.
Kevin Robinson (36:01):
For African Heritage, like I mentioned, the three things we're focusing on are always personal, professional, and career development.
We do that through a lot of events. I don't know. I'm clearing my throat so much today.
Majority of the events that we have are... Right now, they're kind of social, whether that's virtual or a hybrid or if it's online.
Our biggest well-attended ones, I'll probably say would be the virtual homecoming.
I mean, in the African-American community, at least HBCUs, Historically Black Colleges and University, they're big events are homecoming.
People coming back to the campus, tailgating, watching them play their rival schools, the music.
There's always a good time for campus and some people like to revisit those. Because of COVID, some people didn't have the opportunity to visit.
We had the virtual homecomings.
Had a DJ.
Doing a lot of those things that they do on their homecomings virtually or trying to replicate those. Juneteenth is well-attended as well.
We usually have a slate of save events. This year, we're doing... Or having a therapist just because of the recent events that happened in May, Buffalo and the schools near San Antonio, things like that.
We've also done Safe Spaces.
I mentioned that's every third Thursday of the month. Usually, that's 40 to 50 people attending.
So far, each time I've hosted a room, we've had safe people say, "Hey, this is my first time being here.
I kind of heard from so and so.
They told me to come out." That means that what we're doing is working because people are spreading it, word of mouth.
The last events would be our Profession Development series.
We've done two or three of them. The first was maybe 200, 300 people.
The last one with Mr. Chris Fikry was about 500 to 600 people.
Each time, we've seen that growth. We've seen a switch up in the format. One was a lecture base, the other was kind of like a moderation.
I think the next one's going to be like a panel discussion. We're always looking to involve and always grow from there.
Finally, marketing, of course, we want to be branded. We do have shirts and we do have cups and always looking to go from there.
Karl Yeh (38:13):
What are some of the current initiatives that your BRGs are involved in today?
Current BRG initiatives at Thermo Fisher
Patricia Hoekman (38:18):
Well, Possibilities BRG is really focusing on some very strategic goals this year.
We want to launch some targeted recruiting initiatives around recruiting disabled colleagues.
I think that that's one of the things that we've identified as an area that we can help Thermo Fisher improve their diversity and to drive that inclusion that MyMy talked about.
We are collaborating with the Veterans ERG, looking at disabled veteran hiring initiatives and hiring fairs with the VA.
We're also working with Mymy and Global DNI on a neurodiversity hiring initiative across one of our business groups.
We're very excited about that. Just generally, overall, one of our goals is to improve the disabled colleague experience.
We're doing that through some special interest programs that we have within our global BRG, supporting mental health, supporting neurodivergent colleagues in the workplace, supporting caregivers, looking at digital accessibility, and then really trying to say, "What is one other big thing that we can do to improve the colleague experience?"
That is working on getting a manager training module vetted and rolled out on helping managers understand the fundamentals of disability, and learning how do you support your direct reports who are disabled and how are you more inclusive, and removing the barriers to that inclusion through the manager training.
Kevin Robinson (40:00):
Right now, the Lunch and Learn is one... It's kind of separate from the Profession Development series, more hands-on based for members to attend.
It won't be like a CV resume, extreme resume makeover type thing, where you bring your CV, bring your resume, you have a couple people with CV experience and HR talent acquisition coming by to actually go through what makes your CV stand out and things like that. Recruitment and talent acquisition, getting people on the board that are involved in it.
I'm a PPD ambassador, so there's a couple of other people, or I should say... Excuse me. I keep saying it's PPD and CRG, but we're ambassadors. We have a HBCU hiring initiative that we're looking to start different pipelines.
The biggest thing within our group is as far as metrics.
I know we've talked about impact, but are we really making an impact? Can we measure that? What does that look like? And then how can we improve?
Lee Pullan (40:54):
If I can just add quickly for the Women's BRG, one of our big focuses is really focusing on scientists, engineers, women who primarily have struggled in those arenas.
Again, working with not only recruitment and some of the national organizations around the world where we can work together with those associations, but also making sure the women that are within the company already in those positions, creating an awareness to the challenges that they have in the workplace, in their roles that they have, spending many hours studying and doing the research is taxing on maybe a woman who has a family and needs to leave and pick up her child.
Engineers are often in an environment which is extremely challenging for them as a woman.
Maybe they're not as physically capable as a male or they're male counterpart. Again, just looking for ways to make sure that we can grow our diverse team within the scientists and engineers we have at the company.
Karl Yeh (41:52):
Actually, what I wanted to follow up on with all three of you was how do you decide which, I guess, initiatives you want to go forward with?
Whether it's prioritizing a couple or is it just focus on one for the year?
Because, obviously, throughout a year, there's a lot of different world events or things that come up in the organization or things that come up in the community that maybe your BRG is focused on one, but then you may want to focus on others.
How do you prioritize that?
How to prioritize BRG initiatives
Lee Pullan (42:25):
A lot of our prioritization comes from working closely with our DNI team and with our company Goal Tree, right?
At the end of the day, what we are doing is really working towards developing and growing our business.
If we're recruiting individuals, it's because we want them to continue to be great scientists, doing more research, helping us enable our customers as our mission states to be, make the world healthier, cleaner, and safer.
We want more women on board.
We want more women of... Or maybe individuals with disabilities. Just again, recruiting that diverse audience, recruiting that diverse colleague base to enable us to have ideas that, again, can push really what this company can do. '.
As we are working on and developing our initiatives, we look back at those and reflect on those.
Mymy spends a lot of time with us working through them, and we work with our executive sponsors to really flush out two or three key initiatives that we can work on.
Because, again, there is so much we could be doing, but we only have a small amount of time and we really want to have an impact. We want to make a change.
Patricia Hoekman (43:34):
Yeah, I agree with Lee completely.
Definitely working with Global Diversity and Inclusion, working with our executive sponsors, and finding where are the areas that you can drive that impactful change and really see that you've moved the needle in a year because there are so many different things.
One of the ways that I try to address that in the Possibilities BRG is working closely with my chapter leaders and build that sense of cohesion where we all know what the global strategic goals are and how do I work with them to advance their specific chapter goals.
Because each chapter, each location in our company, has an identity.
Different chapters in different locations want to amplify their message.
We have strategic goals on a global level, and then the chapters have their own specific site goals. We try to make sure that they are in harmony together.
That's one of the things, I think, is part of my role as a global lead, is to create that cohesion.
A lot of times to express to our chapters, communicate with your members.
Ask your members what is important to them because I don't ever want to have our members feel like we are talking to them or at them and telling them what Thermo Fisher thinks is important.
We want to be able, as colleagues, to have a voice, to have a platform.
We try to provide that opportunity and ask our members,
- What do you want us to do to support you?
- Do you want more mental health support?
- Do you want more neurodiversity support in the workplace?
- Are you interested in benefits and resources?
We do a lot of surveys.
We ask people when they're in our events, and then we take a look at that metrics, as Kevin said, finding out are we making an impact?
Being able to look at those responses we get from people and then use those to inform our decisions on what our initiatives should be going forward.
Kevin Robinson (45:44):
Yeah. Our process is pretty similar, just like Patricia and Lee is saying.
For us, we normally just plan. We have some type of meeting in the beginning or we might try to get down some things.
Okay, we want to do three peer Profession Development series.
We know we say having Safe Spaces and we know we're trying to do whatever else we're trying to do in there. Of course, we meet with the board, boards meeting consistently, and then we're always meeting as chapter co-leads.
Me, myself, my other chapter co-lead, Lisa, and then our two executive sponsors, then we might meet. From there, ideas might get flushed out. "Yeah. This would be a good idea. No, that's not a good idea. We could table this."
From there, if we do an event, most of the time, people either stepping up to the plate. We have some members that are looking to get involved.
We take that as opportunity to get them engaged.
Finally, at the end, we sent out a survey metric, whether it's at the end of the event or at the end of the entire year, just to see how we did and what can we improve, whether we want to improve the events that we just did or, "Okay. That event didn't work, let's just scrap that all together and do something new."
Karl Yeh (46:53):
Diversity, equity, inclusion, there's a very high focus on that.
Could you provide some examples of
How your BRGs are supporting Thermo Fisher's Diversity and Inclusion efforts?
MyMy Lu (47:06):
Speaking about the groups as a whole, our BRGs are focused around four pillars that are very aligned to our DNI efforts. Right?
Pillar #1: Fostering inclusion and building belonging
One, you've heard the team talk a lot about this fostering inclusion and building belonging.
This is all about creating safe space as a company that understands, in order for our colleagues to bring their best work, contribute, and really succeed at the company, they need to feel safe. Right?
They need to feel like there are people like them.
This pillar is all about trying to create that space.
I think that that has come through in all of our colleagues sharing this is the BRGs enabled them to feel like they belong here and they can do their best for it. Right?
Very, very aligned to our focused around that safety and in that sense of self.
Pillar #2: Supporting talent
The second pillar is supporting talent.
What this is, is the recruiting efforts that I think Kevin talked about, whether it's partnering with our HBCUs, or in a lot of cases, our colleagues are focused on developing their members. Right?
How do they present, for example, trainings and workshops?
Getting them out to... I know Lee and her team have gotten out to conferences, right?
That helped women to really build their skills as the advance in their career.
That aligns perfectly with our mission of really helping these communities that are underrepresented and, in a lot of cases, really move up to the ladder.
Pillar #2: Educate, advocate and encourage allyship
The third pillar is this educate, advocate, and encourage allyship.
What this is all about creating a platform for the BRG members to share their experience as a way to elevate those voices and bring allies along.
This goes hand in hand with what Patricia was talking about, with manager training.
As we advance people through the organization and develop them into leaders, we want them to be the most inclusive leaders. Right?
Our PRGs help to bring that sense of leadership into it. What does it mean to work with colleagues of different backgrounds? What does it mean to work with caregivers?
What does it mean to work with... In the case of our pride group, we just had a tremendous training for managers. What does it need to work with an employee who's transitioning?
We want to make sure that our colleagues that are coming into leadership and a lot of those who are in leadership already understand how to be inclusive leaders.
That's where BRGs really play a big role. A.
Pillar #4: Impact the community
Finally, it's the impact the community.
You asked earlier about how do we prioritize. I think a good example of this is, I'll go back to Lee and team again with the situation in Afghanistan not too long ago, right?
The BRGs could organize a fundraising campaign and try to send funds to help women, at that point, women and children who are impacted by the situation in Afghanistan. Patricia and team would do a lot with our association partners, right?
In advancing Disability and Inclusion, talking through what are some of the best practices that we could not only present in the workplace, but really create a community society that is inclusive of people with disability.
I think through the pillars is how all of our BRGs are really assign aligned to our work.
This is just a one cut of it.
All of our BRGs do tremendous work in really advancing DNI and it really is through their voices that we are able to get as far as we are.
Kevin Robinson (50:34):
Yeah, I know we just did a DNI recruitment. I mean, I know like I mentioned myself and Ashkeer and a couple other people on the board, our ambassadors.
We just helped out with talent acquisition where we reached out to different interns all across America.
We were just reaching out to them, just letting them know what we do here in the labs. I know there's been a real big push here in Virginia, getting diversity into the labs. I believe that that's what they've been focusing on and that's what the recruitment was.
Opportunities I've been involved in, we've done the Shadow Day.
We've done a BRG workshop, DNI, BRG-type workshop, summer series internships. A lot of presentations right now, at least on our end, for African Heritage.
Patricia Hoekman (51:25):
What's one of the ways that Possibilities have really tried to align with Diversity and Inclusion at Thermo Fisher?
The pillars that MyMy mentioned have been very instrumental for me, as the global lead, in looking at how do I evolve our Business Resource Group, from being able to amplify the successes that we have and look to the future.
The way that I've done that is look at these pillars of foster and inclusion, supporting talent, impacting the community, educate, encourage allyship.
I've taken a look at those and said, "How do I build a global infrastructure team that is able to support these to drive our message across each of these pillars and find people that can take their passion for this work of advocacy at Thermo Fisher and give them a way to really connect to the greater company as a whole?"
To be able to say, "I can take my individual passion and it aligns with Thermo Fisher's mission in this way."
These DNI pillars that are really laid out specifically, I think, allow members at the individual member level and chapter level and the global level to really find a way to connect their passion to the overall company mission.
That, to me, makes it easier for people to engage and removes that barrier for connection at the global level for Thermo Fisher.
Karl Yeh (52:56):
Watch part two of our discussion with Thermo Fisher as we explore Employee Resource Groups in the workplace. Thanks for watching and we'll catch our next episode.