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Astellas Senior Vice President Discusses Efforts to Empower Working Women

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Empowering women in the workplace has lately become a top priority for companies coast to coast. Northbrook-based Astellas Pharma has followed suit over the last several years, most recently prioritizing its female workforce with a series of initiatives including the development of its Women's Employee Resource Group and Executive Women's Day.
Launching these initiatives is just a first step in a larger effort to further elevate women in the workplace-an area that they've been successful at. A large percent of their executive-level staff are women.
One of those female employees at the company is Senior Vice President of Human Resources Collette Taylor. She talked to Brandi Walker about the launch of its Women's Employee Resource Group and Executive Women's Day, what future goals the company has for these initiatives, and how have these initiatives impacted their female workforce.

1. What has motivated Astellas Pharma to launch Women's Employee Resource Group and Executive Women's Day?

At Astellas, we are dedicated to improving the health of people around the world and in the communities where we work and live. Through the Executive Women’s Day initiative and programs like it, we aim to encourage women to commit to their health and wellness and consider it as the very essence of their success - both personally and professionally. Over the last year-plus through a PGA TOUR sponsorship, Astellas is proud to have reached thousands of women across the country at over 30 Executive Women’s Day events held in conjunction with PGA TOUR tournaments. Each event has brought together strong, professional women from the community to share stories, learn from each other and focus on growth and development. We were so pleased to bring this great external event in-house for a day to share it with all of our employees.

It was at this event that we announced the launch of our new Women’s Employee Resource Group which on an ongoing basis will provide supportive programming and educational resources to foster growth and development. This program is well-aligned to Astellas’ commitment to cultivating a high performance culture around excellence that allows employees to be creative and entrepreneurial. We want to encourage employees at Astellas to develop and take charge of their own careers and seek opportunities across the organization.

2. What future goals does your company have for these initiatives?

The Women’s Employee Resource Group is among a number of initiatives part of a broader affinity program, internally known as StarINCLUSION. The programs ensure that diversity is embraced across the organization and that a trust-based environment where everyone feels connected to and a part of our mission to change tomorrow for patients around the world is being achieved. Importantly, these programs are intended to make it easier and much more likely for employees to have a voice in the company, contributing to a more trusting, collaborative, vibrant and participative environment. The launch of these programs is well-timed, as our country’s demographics are changing more rapidly than ever before: women now earn the majority of college degrees in the US, four generations are in the workplace at the same time and by 2050, 1 in 5 people in the US will be Hispanic. Accordingly, as the needs of our employees are changing, Astellas is focused on prioritizing both diversity and inclusion in the workplace. In simple terms, diversity is the mix and inclusion is getting the mix to work well together.

3. How have these initiatives impacted your female workforce?

Our employees feel empowered, that they have a “voice” in the company and that the company has a sincere commitment to helping them achieve their goals.

4. What other local companies do you know are empowering women in the workplace?

With the changing demographics of our country, empowering women and others in the workplace is a goal shared by many other companies, both in Chicago and across the country.

5. What advice do you have for future female business leaders?

My advice for female leader is to take ownership for your career and what you want to achieve and don’t expect others to pave the way. While you can and should find people to help you, to educate you, don’t forget that YOU are the one in charge and only you can be accountable to yourself. And while it is important to learn how to do things from others, it is just as important to learn what NOT to do from others. If you make a mistake, own it and fix it; mistakes don’t matter – it’s how you react to them.

In the end, the top business leaders (male or female) have not been afraid to take chances and have found ways to be innovative in managing their careers. If someone puts an obstacle in your way, be creative, be bold and find a way around it. I really believe that if you believe in yourself and what you can do – others will too.

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