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The last 18 months have demonstrated that office and work culture is malleable. Moving forward, I would like to see an “office/work culture” designed to create truly diverse and inclusive work environments — whether in-person, remote or hybrid — while also inspiring innovation to tackle complex social and environmental challenges. I think it’s important to look beyond questions of where we work to address systemic issues of equity and sustainability. In 2020, we saw important reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in our facilities and from reduced employee commuting. Yet, for the first time, we also calculated the emissions from employees working from home.
To help mitigate that impact, Biogen decided to offer a new benefit to help all our employees use 100% renewable energy at home. We also introduced a new benefit to help subsidize the costs of switching to more sustainable options, such as from natural gas to electric appliances. I think it’s also mutually beneficial when companies recognize the whole person, helping with resiliency and mental wellbeing.
In the past year, Biogen offered additional coordinated vacation days for entire teams, so nobody would feel behind after they unplugged. Many parts of our business tried different ideas such as meeting-free days to help manage video conference fatigue and workload while continuing to deliver for our patients. Like most companies, we’re still exploring what the future of the office looks like. Ultimately, I hope that future of the office is flexible, sustainable and equitable so we can all deliver on our goals and thrive.
How can the PR industry make real progress in diversity, inclusion and equity?
The communications profession has a crucial role in acknowledging and celebrating all the ways that different perspectives, cultures and experiences drive innovation and make us stronger. I think it’s important for PR leaders to remember that when we commit to DE&I, we commit to more accurately reflecting the people we serve. We must continue to make our industry more diverse, starting with engaging under-served and under-represented youth at an early age, supporting Historically Black Colleges & Universities, actively building a robust and diverse talent pipeline and addressing talent retention and growth.
PR leaders have a responsibility to ensure that we are backing our commitments to diversity, inclusion and equity (DE&I) with tangible action. Progress should be tracked and PR leaders – and the executives they support – should communicate this progress transparently to all stakeholders. For example, Biogen doesn’t just have a 4-part strategy with actionable steps to deepen our commitment to DE&I, our progress is transparently reported through publicly disclosed data on our website, in our annual report, and shared with employees and investors. We publish our EEO-1 data and just released our first dedicated DE&I report.
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