Best Practice | Conscious Leadership Builds an Inclusive and Effective Culture at Boehringer Ingelheim

5 minutes read
Tory De Bassio

At Boehringer Ingelheim Mexico, leaders are crucial for shaping a culture where all employees can feel a sense of belonging within the organisation. As role models, they help to set the scene and show that diversity and inclusion are priorities. For the organisation, the meaning of diversity refers to diversity of thought, while inclusion is how they bring different perspectives and ideas together for innovation. 

This best practice focuses on developing a new generation of inclusive leaders through a series of targeted training modules to enable them to foster psychological safety at all organisational levels and identify issues arising from micro-aggressions, harassment, discrimination, and unconscious biases. The basis for this transformation was a “Conscious Business Leadership Programme,” an Unconscious Bias e-learning course, and Psychological Safety & Speak Up workshops. 

This is just a snapshot of Boehringer Ingelheim’s innovative best practice. You can find the entire practice in our HR Best Practices database, which is exclusively available to Top Employers. Get inspiration and insight into the approach, challenges and learnings experienced by certified Top Employers. Access it now via the Top Employers Programme if you are certified or learn more about it here! 

Why the practice was needed 

Culture and leadership are inextricably linked: consciously or unconsciously, leaders foster the values and beliefs that underpin an organisation's culture and imprint values and assumptions that persist for decades. An organisation’s leaders can also shape culture over time through their conscious and unconscious behaviours. 

Boehringer Ingelheim Mexico recognises that being able to promote their organisation as one where different genders, identities, races, ages, and backgrounds are celebrated is directly linked to increased employee engagement, innovation, and productivity. Prioritising diversity and inclusion training at all levels, but especially for the role models who lead organisational culture, is key to facilitating true inclusivity. Without engaged leadership, such activities can become nothing more than corporate speak. 

How the practice was implemented 

Boehringer Ingelheim Mexico has implemented a Leadership Journey that includes comprehensive D&I training. Traditionally, in business, leaders are often selected based on their individual success. At Boehringer Ingelheim Mexico, developing leadership skills goes beyond technical skills; the ethical aspect of leadership has become imperative. Leaders are asked to grow in their roles in a human sense. 

These programmes aim to evoke the internal commitment of the team members to accomplish the organisation’s mission with effectiveness and integrity. It means doing so with the understanding that their team members are human beings who will only do their best if they are inspired, feel safe, and believe they are truly included and have a sense of belonging in the organisation. 

All leaders in the company are required to participate in training programmes to ensure that they all operate from the same basis for managing talent within the organisation. 
For D&I, their Leadership Journey includes four programmes: 

  1. Unconscious Bias e-Learning accessible through an online D&I channel 
  1. Psychological Safety & Speak Up leadership workshops 
  1. People Growth + Diversity & Inclusion + Belonging: D&I topics as part of management are addressed during the mandatory training for Boehringer Ingelheim leaders. The training includes skills and tools for communication, feedback, and feedforward. 
  1. Conscious Business Leadership Programme: developed and presented in conjunction with Fred Kofman, a renowned Executive Coach and Advisor on leadership and culture and Founder of the Conscious Business Center. Over the course of 32 weeks, leaders engage in learning about the following topics: leadership, culture, communication, responsibility, humility, collaboration, resolution (honesty), coordination (commitments), essentialism, co-evaluation (feedback), emotions, meditation, perspectives (empathy), stoicism (flourishing), teamwork, coaching, capitalism (ethics), anti-capitalism (justice), and the West (economy and citizenship). 

The web platform, for leaders and direct reports, was created on the company’s intranet.  This space is available to ensure that employees are able to find all the information they need and more to reinforce an open, just and equitable culture. In this way, leaders have access to information from anywhere, at any time, to be able to effectively address issues such as micro-aggressions, bullying, discrimination, etc. 

The Conscious Business Leadership Programme was designed and aligned with the company’s corporate competencies, behaviours and code of ethics, allowing Boehringer Ingelheim Mexico’s leaders (Directors, Senior Management and Middle Management) to put the organisation’s philosophy and values into practice on a daily basis within their teams. Their leaders learn to manage by improving effectiveness, caring for collaborative relationships with their team and peers, as well as promoting the welfare of all involved. 

Leadership is divided into three cohorts, and the programme is tailored accordingly. Thereafter, the training is cascaded throughout the organisation. Those three cohorts are:  

  • Cohort 1: Senior Leadership 
  • Cohort 2 and 3: Leaders across the business functions 

The results of the practice: 

To measure the effectiveness of this best practice, a global survey is undertaken annually across Boehringer Ingelheim countries, totalling 54 000 employees. Each country has its own results and a comparison with the global results. 
Below are a selection of the results Boehringer Ingelheim Mexico has obtained that are directly related to the leadership development trainings and coaching discussed in this best practice: 

  • 86% agree that leaders work effectively with people who are different from themselves. 
  • 93% agree that people are treated with respect in Boehringer Ingelheim, regardless of their job, level, etc. 
  • 98% agree that the values of Boehringer Ingelheim and the principles of the Code of Conduct support employees in their work on a day-to-day basis. 

Notable Quotes:

“No matter what position you hold in the company, you can make a huge impact with what you say and how you say it.” 
Luis Carlos Pérez, Director of Communication 

“Regardless of position or rank, lets demand that we work with the principles of Conscious Business. It is the most efficient and fastest way to establish a conscious business culture.” 
Augusto Muench, CEO 

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Best Practice | Conscious Leadership Builds an Inclusive and Effective Culture at Boehringer Ingelheim