Developing and Advancing Women: Building Capabilities and Connections

Mar 5, 2015 1:00 PM ET
Article feature story

When Ana Maria Gaitan, business unit director based at Baxter's Mexico City, Mexico facility, was told that she was one of three Baxter female employees nominated to participate in a unique executive leadership development program through Florida International University, she felt honored and excited.

"I was thrilled to have been chosen and I was excited to learn from both the talented faculty and the talented women leaders who'd also be in attendance," Gaitan says. "The opportunity to exchange thoughts and experiences in such an environment was so inspiring."

For the last five years, Baxter's Latin America operations have been partnering with Florida International University's Center for Leadership on the Women Leaders Program. Hosted annually in the spring, the program is designed with high potential women leaders in mind: senior managers, directors, vice presidents, and executives who have expanded responsibility and want to catapult their leadership development in new directions. Baxter covers the tuition, accommodations and all related program fees for its employees. Nominated by country and regional leaders, the company has graduated 23 students to date.

Building a globally diverse organization and creating an inclusive culture in which diversity is valued are two key areas of Baxter's global inclusion strategy. Providing training and development opportunities are one way Baxter works to achieve this. "It is important for Baxter to participate in these development initiatives for women so that we can ensure we are equipping our women leaders with the most current skill-building opportunities that are backed by research, experience and expertise," said Susan Zatorski, director of talent management for Baxter's Latin America region. "It also gives the participants the opportunity to network with other women leaders in different industries and different geographies." 

Opportunities to Advance and Succeed
For the second time, Baxter was a silver sponsor of the annual Global Women's Forum in Deauville, France. More than 1,300 business executives, opinion leaders and members of the media from around the world were present at the three-day international forum, including Baxter women leaders from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany and Switzerland. Baxter also hosted two presentations on attracting and retaining women employees and promoting a long-term "lifecycle approach" to career management for women across multiple generations.

In Japan, Baxter launched an "Ikuboss" campaign that recognizes managers for their role in fostering an inclusive mindset and culture while supporting the contributions of female employees. This innovative approach recognizes these managers across a variety of internal communication vehicles including an "I am Ikuboss" video where the manager declares their Ikuboss status, an Ikuboss recognition rally, branded checklists, stickers and behaviors lists. The campaign also incorporates lectures and workshops  that focus on the important role leaders play when it comes to inclusion.

Baxter's business resource groups (BRGs) are another key element of the company's global inclusion strategy.  With the BRGs, employees have a forum to develop skills, experience valuable cultural connections and support key business initiatives while enhancing personal growth and multicultural understanding.

One of these BRGs, Baxter Women Leaders (BWL), organizes a variety of events and activities for Baxter employees, as well for the community. BWL's Colorado chapter hosted a career day for Girls Inc. of Metro Denver focused on science and technology careers. Girls Inc. is an organization that strives to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold, and provides more than 138,000 girls across the U.S. and Canada with life-changing experiences and real solutions to the unique issues girls face. The day included a panel of Baxter women leaders in technical roles ranging from engineering to IT management. Discussions focused on career aspirations in science, technology and engineering, as well as the challenges and rewards the panelists have experienced along the way in their careers.

"We thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to chat with these young ladies," said Cari Dunne, systems engineer and Baxter participant. "I believe that not only were we able to provide input that they valued, but that we came away from the event energized and remembering why each of us ended up where we are."
The event was a great success according to Monica Villalobos, Program Director of Girls Inc. "The girls were pumped afterwards and were talking about their conversations with the women the entire drive home.  It was a great day," Villalobos said. "It's so important for women to share their stories with younger generations - it gives them hope for the dreams they have for themselves."

To read more about Baxter's efforts in global inclusion and diversity, click here.