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The Rewards of Helping Women to Connect at Work

By Jennifer Hanson, Global Recruitment, GSK

I work for GSK, a global company that believes in building an inclusive culture that values differences and leveraging those differences to understand those we serve: patients and consumers. One avenue GSK supports is our many employee resource groups (ERGs). I am a member of global human resources operations and support consumer healthcare US ERGs as their HR advisor. I am pleased to be the co-lead for the “Consumer Healthcare’s Women’s Leadership Initiative” (WLI).

To provide context, GSK is an outstanding healthcare organization that embraces a culture of inclusion, with women and men working side by side in all levels of the organization, empowering women to realize their full potential without limitations. The WLI is an employee resource group whose mission is simple:

  • Connect: provide opportunities to develop networks, build relationships and share experiences to enrich members’ personal lives at all levels within GSK.
  • Engage: provide members with opportunities to collaborate with networks internally and externally and build confidence and experiences while helping to build trust and reputation of GSK in the communities in which we work and live.
  • Develop: build skills that will help members accelerate their development for leadership roles, enhance their use of these skills through coaching and mentoring and successfully contribute to the performance of GSK.

I became a member of WLI when it was brought under the ERG umbrella in 2011. Prior, it was a stand-alone affinity group. I was asked to represent my division on the WLI cxecutive steering committee and had the opportunity to interact with women across all divisions within GSK. Over the past four years, WLI has grown in membership and influence. My involvement with the Network of Executive Women (NEW), delivering development webinars and facilitating Q&A session amongst participants, has provided exposure to thought leaders in our industry. Being the liaison with the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA), attending their “Woman of the Year” annual luncheon and hosting speed networking meetings has provided opportunities to network with HBA and WLI members.

Over the past three years, we have developed a relationship with our local Dress for Success chapter, leading to a mentoring program and providing WLI members the opportunity to mentor Dress for Success clients. WLI also has a book club, and this year I volunteered to be a facilitator when we read Daniel Pink’s Drive (we’ve also read Sheryl Sandburg’s Lean In and Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly.) I have met women (virtually) from every division and level across GSK, and the safe environment to share experiences has produced dynamic and engaging conversations. I reached out to everyone at my site who is involved with the book club and we meet over lunch each month to discuss what we’ve learned. Feedback thus far has been extremely positive and our global book club steering committee considers it a best practice. Other sites are planning to implement site lunch and sharing!

It is critical for all employees to find opportunities to develop themselves that complement traditional programs. Employee resource groups enable self-development and the recognition I have received personally and professionally is priceless.

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