Bristol Myers Squibb’s leadership in global diversity & inclusion


Leading the journey with transparency

As one of the world’s largest biopharmaceutical companies, Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) doesn’t just develop life-saving medicines. The company is also a leader in global diversity and inclusion (GD&I) initiatives, committing itself to advancing diversity and inclusion (D&I) efforts and improving health equity for better patient outcomes. And the hope is that these actions will inspire other companies in the pharmaceutical industry to do the same. 

For nearly two decades, GD&I—a critical pillar in environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategies—has been a top priority for BMS. In fact, in 2015, the company evolved its employee resource groups to People and Business Resource Groups (PBRGs) to focus on GD&I initiatives and build a workforce that better reflected the diversity of its patients and communities. The groups aimed to create a culture of inclusion and belonging and, ultimately, drive innovation and business results. In addition, CEO Giovanni Caforio signed the CEO Action pledge for Diversity and Inclusion.

But BMS’ extensive efforts continue to grow. In 2020, the company and the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation each made $150 million commitments to accelerate and expand diversity, inclusion and health equity efforts, including workforce representation. Internally, the company pledged to advance leadership representation by the end of 2022 by achieving gender parity at the executive level and doubling executive representation of Black/African American and Latino/Hispanic employees in the US.

What was BMS’ next step? To tell the world. And to share the GD&I strategy in the company’s first Global Diversity and Inclusion report, which provides transparency into a broad set of metrics and brings the stats to life with authentic stories from employees.

Writing chapter one of an evolving story

To ensure companies are truly accountable to diversity, equity and inclusion goals, they need to question everything—including their data. BMS’ leadership understood that, and knew the company needed help to enable high-quality data processes as well as framing, qualifying and quantifying its story and aspirations. The goal? To produce a comprehensive report with insights that identify which initiatives are working well and which ones need to be improved—and to provide context that creates an emotional connection with readers.


Aligning strategy, culture and context

The same team members who brought PwC’s inaugural Diversity & Inclusion Transparency Report to life in 2020 tapped into the lessons they learned on that project, including how to communicate with authenticity and consistency, and the importance of a far-reaching communication and socialization plan. The BMS and PwC teams worked collaboratively to connect themes and storylines to the data—putting the report’s metrics in context by illustrating the real-world value of the actions. They also applied the data quality approaches PwC uses with many of its clients to help confirm the accuracy of the quantitative metrics in the report. 

While teaming to identify representation benchmarks, the biopharma company crystallized key messages around its GD&I journey by integrating diverse employee stories and qualitative examples that would resonate with readers. These efforts included cultural dexterity training and helping to curb the spread of COVID-19 through education and outreach campaigns in underserved communities throughout the world.

Rolling out the first report

BMS strongly believes that GD&I initiatives require much more than simply reporting workforce data: They also should outline what a company stands for—and why. 

The teams assembled one of the most robust narratives of GD&I efforts in the biopharmaceutical industry to date. BMS’ commitments to addressing health disparities, clinical trial diversity, supplier diversity, increased employee giving and workforce representation—all in service to patients—has served as the North Star.

Working together, the multifaceted, multidisciplinary teams crafted a data framework and an actionable publishing timeline. They went through multiple iterations to get alignment with leaders across various functions. In the process, they uncovered additional insights and data points to help guide future initiatives, such as amplifying Everybody Counts (the company’s self-identification campaign) with leader messages and employee videos that breathe life and authenticity into these efforts.

Turning ideas into actions

Working hand in hand, PwC helped BMS develop a landscape analysis to understand how to aggregate, calculate and determine how the company’s efforts compared to the benchmark analysis. This was a complex process that had to be performed on an aggressive timeline. 

While some members of the multidisciplinary teams tackled numbers, others focused on structure, messaging, insight generation and storyline—a task that’s as complex as data analysis. PwC helped BMS achieve an intricate balance between embedding relevant metrics and providing a compelling narrative with qualitative proof points and illustrative examples. PwC oversaw and helped to guide the whole process, ensuring that all stakeholders were on the same page and working toward the same goals—including meeting very tight deadlines.

Throughout the process, the stakeholders put their heads together to think through their GD&I story, align on the most important elements, find answers to the "so what?" questions, identify areas for growth and improvement—and communicate all of this to employees, customers, shareholders, the industry and the public in an authentic way. While the discussions weren’t always comfortable or easy, they were essential to finding answers and curating the company’s GD&I efforts.


Adding context to the data

BMS leaders had been tracking GD&I data for decades, but needed to provide context to tell a holistic story that employees, clients, healthcare networks and other stakeholders could relate to and easily understand. PwC helped prioritize the stories the company wanted to tell and documented the process, making it more rigorous and disciplined. BMS and PwC worked collaboratively with other agencies to create a meaningful report that married impressive business outcomes with a positive impact on individual people.

The integrated teams aligned on messaging and storylines and produced the robust Global Diversity and Inclusion report, including within it many employee stories. These narratives, many of which were provided by the PBRGs, breathed life into the detailed metrics that document the company's efforts. Putting the statistics into context helped readers connect emotionally with the report, and BMS’ typical social media benchmarks were exceeded twofold. 

Putting a stake in the ground

BMS’ report was inclusive and transparent, painting a clear picture of the company’s diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. These GD&I efforts put an initial virtual stake in the ground, inspiring employee engagement and helping to position BMS as a leader in the biopharma industry. 

Other benefits included a deeper understanding of the data in the report, as well as a workable timeline for future reports and guidance to assist with ongoing efforts. 

Building trust and goodwill

The transparency and context of the report contributed to a culture shift. Supported by these efforts and others, such as the Everybody Counts self-identification campaign, managers felt more encouraged to have honest, sometimes difficult conversations with their teams regarding diversity, equity and inclusion topics. That, in turn, often empowered employees to share their thoughts and personal stories about their life experiences with their colleagues and managers.

Reactions to the GD&I report have been positive, and BMS leaders expect that to continue, while acknowledging that the report represents just the first steps in an ongoing journey. The company continues to promote the GD&I dialogue within its industry and has made long-term commitments to gender parity, better representation of Black/African American and Latino/Hispanic individuals in the executive ranks, supplier diversity, employee giving, health equity and clinical trials. Further, BMS will continue to tell the world what it stands for, how it intends to achieve its ambitious GD&I and health equity goals and what pioneering efforts it plans for the future.

Bristol Myers Squibb’s commitment to GD&I
produced a groundbreaking report

The biopharma company’s discussions aligned
stakeholders on messaging and timelines.

“This important effort is the beginning of an ongoing GD&I conversation and is our foundation going forward. PwC challenged our team to think about what is most important and how we can continue to make progress.” 

Linda Leonard
Global Diversity & Inclusion Lead, Bristol Myers Squibb

“We’re proud to be part of Bristol Myers Squibb’s journey to address diversity and inclusion and health equity imperatives. This report is a critical step in helping to build trust.”

Luna Corbetta
Principal, PwC

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Luna Corbetta

Principal, Workforce Transformation, Pharma & Life Sciences, PwC US

Sheri Wyatt

Sustainability and Deals Partner, PwC US

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