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How Roche is pursuing a D&I strategy to ensure its people deliver their best work for patients

The CFO spoke with Dr Alan Hippe, CFO and CIO at Roche, about the company’s diversity and inclusion agenda and the role he plays in embedding it into the finance function to act as a model for the rest of the business to follow

How Roche is pursuing a D&I strategy to ensure its people deliver their best work for patients

Roche, one of the world’s largest biotech companies, with 100,000 employees in in over 100 countries, is firmly focused on scientific-led discovery and innovation to evolve medicine and diagnostics.

As part of its main goal to support its patients’ individual needs – both now and into the future – the group is concentrating on finding new medicines and innovative treatments via its Roche Pharma division as well as advancing diagnostic solutions to support healthcare professionals via Roche Diagnostics.

But its ambitions do not end with transforming healthcare – it also wants to make a major contribution to environmental protection, supply chain sustainability, social commitment and philanthropy.

How Roche is pursuing a D&I strategy to ensure its people deliver their best work for patients
Dr Alan Hippe, CFO and CIO at Roche

A key part of Roche’s diversity and inclusion (D&I) agenda is a strong emphasis on gender equality, which ranges from ensuring equal pay and workplace initiatives to support the needs of female employees to actively encouraging women to take on senior leadership roles.

In this case study, we speak to Alan Hippe, CFO and CIO at Roche, who explains the important role the CFO plays in spreading a gender equality strategy across the wider organisation as well as embedding it in the finance function so that it acts as a model for the rest of the company.

Reflecting societal diversity in the workplace

One of the core pillars of Roche’s D&I strategy is building a workforce that reflects the societies it serves. A key goal here is “to ensure that its leadership mirrors that of its workforce” – and this also includes gender.

“In accordance with United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5 to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, we are committed to improving opportunities for women across the organisation,” says Hippe.

“We are committed to gender pay equity, mitigating unconscious bias and providing the flexibility each employee needs to meet their professional and personal responsibilities.”

Achieving gender equality has gained momentum across the business since the early 2000s, with  the company making details on gender pay equity available to all.

“Based on our organisation-wide analysis – and taking into consideration global grading, job structure, level in the organisation, and other factors – we found no significant difference in pay between men and women in similar jobs,” says Hippe.

The company is also committed to promoting female employees to more senior roles.

“In terms of improving opportunities for women, we increased the proportion of female leaders in executive positions by an additional 2% in 2021,” he adds.

CFOs role in D&I

Hippe explains that, as CFO of Roche, he is playing a key role in helping the company achieve its D&I strategy and ensuring this is firmly embedded in the finance function.

“Alongside sponsoring and championing diversity and inclusion-related initiatives – including those that promote gender equality – my role is to set clear direction and amplify the role of diversity and inclusion as a key enabler of our finance strategy, which aligns with our overall strategy as a company,” he says.

Roche’s gender equality strategy “is reflected substantially in the company’s finance department” which introduced a new ‘Women Leadership Programme in Finance’ this year.

“Its objectives are to increase gender diversity in leadership positions and to build a strong pipeline of emerging women leaders with a long-term career focus,” says Hippe.

“I am a big supporter of this programme, which is designed to connect our future leaders with senior leaders, provide best practice insights on how to overcome hurdles and – equally important – engage and strengthen the Roche ecosystem,” he adds, pointing out that following this approach in finance is now serving as a model for the rest of the company.

Hippe points out that the finance function at Roche sees itself as a custodian of performance – a hybrid function with advanced capabilities that takes on responsibilities beyond the core.

“Finance at Roche is going beyond a focus on value creation for the business to a more holistic view of its potential to make a contribution to medical patients too,” according to Hippe.

“We have formed hypotheses about the future based on extensive dialogue both internally and externally, including my own conversations with other CFOs,” he says.

“It is crucial to engage more and more with our internal and external ecosystems. We need to ensure a far better connection, along with strong leadership that enables a culture of innovation.”

Hippe believes that this strategy will feed through into the company’s overall performance.

“In addition, in a world where the competition for talent is increasingly intense, a diverse and inclusive culture is part of what will differentiate us and help us to attract and retain the best finance people,” he says.

“Although we’ve come a long way, there is more to do. Building an equitable and inclusive environment is a long-term initiative, and I am confident the sustainable practices we are putting in place will continue to show results year after year.”

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