Summit Preview: Could Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Be the Keys to a Culture of Collaboration?

Global Alliance Summit,

Posted By Michael Burke, Monday, March 8, 2021

Many organizations today are striving to become better workplaces. It’s long overdue—but the events of 2020 have accelerated a trend yet again. Issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion—known in shorthand as DEI—have now risen to the top of the agenda for many companies.

Some might view these measures as magnanimous, altruistic, or examples of effecting social good, but what if diversity, equity, and inclusion are not just societal nice-to-haves but actually central to company culture, and to the formation of effective business collaborations—in other words, keys to business success?

That question and others emerged in a recent conversation with Bruce Cozadd, chairman and CEO of Jazz Pharmaceuticals, who will give a keynote address at the ASAP Global Alliance Summit titled “Fostering a Culture of Collaboration” on the Summit’s opening day, Monday, March 15.

Founded on a Collaborative Culture

Every company has a culture, but as employees and partners will tell you, it’s not always what the company claims it is. Idealistic mission statements can all too often be undermined by contrary behavior.

According to Cozadd, “One of the unique things about our corporate history is that Jazz was founded around a corporate culture. Most companies are founded around a technology, a patent, a product, an R&D program, a disease focus. Jazz was founded because a number of us wanted to create a particular corporate culture. We had some ideas about the business, too—but when we talk about corporate culture, it goes deep at Jazz. It’s why the company exists in the first place. We created a culture focused on collaboration and inclusiveness, which has fostered innovation and supported Jazz’s mission to transform patient lives.”

Getting that culture “right” takes constant work, founded on core values.

“I like to remind people, no company has bad core values,” said Cozadd. “Nobody says, ‘We’re going to be dishonest.’ They all sound good—the question is whether you live them, and what you mean by them. Collaboration in our company…is really defined as how you work with people. It’s not [just] how you work with people inside your company, it’s how you work with regulators, partner companies, patient groups, vendors, it’s how you interact. Thinking about collaboration in that way…is that consistent with the way you’re behaving inside your organization?”

Collaborative Spirit Should Start Before Day One

For Jazz, as for many biopharma companies, alliances are critical, which makes it all the more important to maintain consistency and integrity inside and outside the organization.

“We’re a company whose strategy depends on effective alliances,” Cozadd acknowledged. “It’s at the heart of what we do, particularly on the R&D innovation side, so this is something we want to get right. Inside our company, we do an all-employee anonymous survey every year where we ask people, ‘Is the culture we’re describing what you are experiencing every day?’ It doesn’t matter that we’re saying it—is it what you’re experiencing? We turn around and we’re transparent with that data. Then if there are things that need a tune-up, what actions are we going to take? What are we going to do differently? Then we remeasure.

“[With] alliance management, you can measure the effectiveness of an alliance, you can ask questions, you can be transparent about that data, you can talk about what you’re going to do to influence that, and then you can remeasure. So there’s a consistency here with how you attack culture inside your company and how that translates to where you can better succeed or fail in your alliance management as well.”

In Cozadd’s view, that culture of collaboration should be in evidence from the first day of negotiating an alliance deal.

“It always feels somewhat artificial to me that during a negotiation we’re going to be adversarial, we’re not going to share information, and then the day we sign the agreement, suddenly we’re going to be collaborative!” he said. “I don’t think you can change your stripes like that. Whether we’ve started working together officially or not, we’re working together in helping to structure a relationship.”

Woke, and Woke Up

For Cozadd, upholding Jazz’s core values is not optional—and that includes diversity, equity, and inclusion.

“I thought we were pretty good at DEI prior to 2020,” he said. “I look around and we have high employee engagement, good retention relative to industry. But I woke up like a lot of people did in 2020 and realized I had been missing a lot in terms of certain populations, particularly our Black employees, and really understanding the odds they face in society generally and even inside our organization.

“So we redoubled our efforts and education, and made some very specific commitments to the organization about what we meant by success on DEI. For example, I set as a goal within three years to be at 50 percent diverse executive committee members and 50 percent diverse board members—‘diverse’ meaning gender, LGBTQ, or a person of color. We are close to achieving both of those already this year.”

“There’s a Place for Me Here”

Cozadd knew he could have simply waited for the company’s DEI strategy to be reflected in representation at the board and management team levels, which might take several years.

“But that time frame doesn’t feel right,” he said. “That’s sending a signal to people inside the company. People look up to see, ‘Am I represented? Is there an opportunity for me to grow into a significant role inside this company?’ I wanted everybody in our company to look up and say, ‘There’s a place for me here.’”

As a result, Jazz developed near-term goals for the company relating to representation of diverse groups and is updating its strategies to meet these goals. But what does all this mean for its alliances?

“It means a couple things,” Cozadd said. “It means I want to make sure when we’re acting with our counterparties in an alliance that we’re just as attentive to inclusion—is everyone’s voice heard, are we making sure we don’t gender stereotype or otherwise stereotype, and are we getting the best out of the talent that’s here?

“Number two, I’ve got a commitment to my employees to create a particular culture—a great place to work. [If] the counterparty to that alliance doesn’t have the same commitment to DEI we do and is creating a situation where our employees don’t feel like they’re included, am I going to do something about that? I would do something if it were happening inside my company. So will I show up for my employees and make sure it’s the right environment?”

“I’m happy to say a lot of things are moving in the right direction,” he concluded. “I don’t feel like this is as hard as it would have been three, five, 10 years ago. But it still takes attention.”

Find out why increasing DEI and advancing corporate objectives aren’t mutually exclusive. Register for the ASAP Global Alliance Summit today to catch Cozadd’s lessons in how organizations can marry these goals, as well as to access a power-packed lineup of roundtables, master classes, and other presentations with everything you need to know to conduct alliances in a pandemic world and beyond.