Diversity In Detail


Gerrie Dresser interviews Michael Keatley of J&J


How do diversity and inclusion (D&I) impact your employee engagement and business outcomes?

There are many companies that recognize the value of diversity and inclusion, and yet are at a starting point in formulating their D&I program.

To find out what a top-level D&I program looks like, we invited Mike Keatley, Pharmacovigilance Officer, Janssen Scientific Affairs, a support organization for the pharmaceutical division, to share best practices from J&J, one of the top 10 companies in DiversityInc’s Top 50.

An inside look at how J&J does it:10 Best Practice Strategies to Increase Engagement through Diversity & Inclusion

We explored factors, such as the company’s environment, the CEO’s advocacy of D&I initiatives, openness of D&I programs, and measurement tools to evaluate D&I effectiveness. We also uncovered a few future visions for J&J’s D&I initiatives.

Gerrie: Mike, let’s start with the atmosphere at J&J that has led to its strong focus on incorporating diversity as a culture. What do you consider to be key factors in J&J’s company-wide advocacy for diversity and inclusion?

Mike: At a very high level within J&J, all the way up to the CEO, Alex Gorsky, you sense the company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

When you see it at such a high level in a very tangible way, it speaks to the values of the company.

My personal values line up with the company’s which has been a significant factor in my engagement and commitment to the work. This commitment of leaders is vital to what we do. Another factor is having programs that promote diversity, so you can influence the business culture as well.

My experience in D&I started with an invitation to serve on Janssen Scientific Affairs Diversity and Inclusion Council that supports my passion for advancing the message on a wider basis. We built a solid knowledge foundation through studying articles and journals, starting with the extensive J&J internal resources, and partnering with employee resource groups (ERGs). The ERGs have an open member culture, so I joined the Veterans ERG group even though I’m not a veteran. Similarly, you don’t need to be an LGBT, millennial, mentor, or Latino to be a supporter of these groups.

Another strategy is to connect the internal ERG with external groups and reach out to the external groups to establish a partnership. This partnership is integral to providing a robust and multidimensional agenda for each program that includes ERG support through the company’s meeting and project management.

Gerrie: Diversity and inclusion are both broad subjects, and some people still confuse them with affirmative action. How do you define diversity?

Mike: Usually people talk about diversity in terms of gender, ethnicity, age and ability. I think of diversity more broadly to include different learning styles, communication styles, backgrounds, and location. There’s a variety of things that make up diversity because we’re all unique individuals.

For example, J&J works with people leaving the military and transitioning to the business world. We help convert their military experience into business language for resumés. It’s important that they learn to articulate their business value and the type of work they desire in a clear and concise format. We focus on other job search/professional development topics such as how to create a LinkedIn profile, respond to interview questions, and transition into the business environment.

We’ve started an ERG for millennials, realizing there are some cultural differences between the baby boomer generation and the way millennials think, their values, and the way they look at a workplace.

One example of an ERG that reached out to external resources is the Latino group that hosted an open house in the cafeteria so others could taste the Latino cuisine and learn more about the culture.

We have a standard, automated process that streamlines announcements, communication, and event logistics. The announcement/invitation is distributed through a company-wide newsletter from an internal portal to either the pharmaceutical, medical device, or consumer product sector, or to the entire company. Invitations are also extended via word of mouth or through other internal portals and newsletters.

Gerrie: According to research, two significant success factors to a D&I program’s impact are the strength of the CEO’s message and the practice of being rewarded or recognized for diversity work that increases engagement across the board. How do you see the strength of CEO Alex Gorsky’s message having an impact throughout the management teams?

Mike: Managers at every level are responsible for diversity and inclusion by having diversity-related goals and objectives embedded in our performance management system rather than relying on the Chief Diversity Officer or Human Resources assuming full responsibility. When the management team starts to own the impact, it gets infused into the culture of what we do, and is more meaningful than a top-down program or message.

Gerrie: You referenced the discussions about moving the company, specifically your organizational area, into a culture of inclusion. Would you describe what initiated this focus and what a culture of inclusion would look like?

Mike: The focus resulted from our D&I Council realizing that our team as a whole was diverse. We hadn’t reached “diversity nirvana,” but it did open space to launch a discussion about the impact of inclusion or lack of inclusion.

We wanted to know how is inclusion different than diversity, and just because you have diversity, does that mean you have inclusion? As to the first, diversity is who you are and inclusion is what you do. Inclusion is leveraging the diversity that you have so that people come to work and feel valued. To the second, the answer was no. You can be very diverse and still not be inclusive.

On a deeper level, inclusion is bringing your true self to work and feeling that you’re in a place where you’re safe, a place where you can express your gifts, your thoughts, and your ideas without fear of being condemned because you have a certain type of background or fit into a category. It doesn’t mean that you don’t have disagreements or you don’t talk openly. It does mean that you are able to bring different opinions to the table without fear because you feel like you’re in a minority. Inclusion requires a lot of discipline because our tendency is to lapse into being comfortable with people who are like us. That’s biology. Inclusion isn’t easy, but we strive toward it.

Gerrie: Since this shift in thinking requires a significant mindset change, have you provided any diversity-specific training internally?

Mike: Yes, we hired an external contractor to raise awareness about the concept of micro-inequities. Quite honestly, until I got into discussions about diversity and inclusion, I wasn’t familiar with the term. We learned that micro-inequities are also referred to as unconscious bias. Through the training, people gained more insight on the topic, acknowledged their experience with micro-inequities, and made a commitment to check themselves on their own biases.

Gerrie: What would be an example of a situation in which unconscious bias or micro-inequities show up?

Mike: Meetings are when you observe behavior, overshadowed by unconscious bias, most often.

Some people are ignored. Some people are valued more than others. Some people get shut down. It might be that person’s particular bias against a certain ethnic group.

One unconscious bias that we often encounter is when a person’s name is mispronounced. There are names from other cultures that are difficult for people to pronounce. It’s important to take time to understand names that aren’t familiar. Ask someone to repeat their name if you don’t understand it at first. By pronouncing their name correctly, you show respect for the person.

Gerrie: Self-awareness is the first step towards changing behavior and mindset. What changes have you seen in people’s behavior as a result of the training?

Mike: People are more inclusive at meetings. For example, taking the last five minutes of a meeting and asking each person to share their key outcomes. It serves to recognize different communication styles, and engage people who would otherwise hold back and remain disengaged. People have been challenged to check themselves when they realize that how they say something has an impact on others. It’s increased people’s self-awareness about personal biases, and very subtly communicated the message, “That’s not who we want to be.”

Gerrie: This is the deep work that’s needed to bring about a culture of inclusiveness that shows up in very subtle ways. What tools are available to measure these subtle changes?

Mike: Engagement is the most direct measurement factor, so we asked, “How does diversity and inclusion, or the lack of, affect engagement?” Managers were given a confidential self-assessment tool to measure their diversity in thinking and behavior. How diverse are you? How much are you thinking about diversity when you hire a new employee? As a result, managers identified specific areas of diversity where they could improve and the organization improved its overall engagement scores.

Gerrie: Mike, is there discussion also about the strategic or competitive advantage in having a diverse and inclusive workforce?

Mike: J&J certainly is of the philosophy that having an inclusive and diverse workforce is good for business. Customers, through social media, are able to get closer to the company. As they get closer, the company becomes more aware of them as individuals. Customer centricity is very important. To understand the customer, we need to be the customer and reflect who our customers are. If our demographic doesn’t reflect our customers, there is a disconnect in the customers’ perceptions about how aligned we are with their needs. Our customer base is global, and diversity is key to meeting our customer’s needs and effectively working in a global environment.


1. Model tangible, high level commitment to diversity and inclusion, of leaders at all levels, up to the CEO.

2. Establish programs that promote diversity and expand diversity across the company.

3. Build a solid knowledge foundation through studying articles and journals.

4. Establish partnerships among the Employee Resource Groups (ERGs).

5. Promote open member culture across all ERGs.

6. Connect the internal ERG with external groups and reach out to the external groups to establish a partnership.

7. Provide standard, automated processes that streamline communication, announcements and event logistics.

8. Designate responsibility for diversity and inclusion to managers at every level by having diversity-related goals and objectives embedded in performance management system.

9. Introduce training, conducted by an external expert, to raise awareness about the concept of micro-inequities.

10. Implement a measurement of ‘Engagement’ before you initiate a D&I program as a benchmark and after you deliver the program to assess the improvements.


Gerrie Dresser, CEO, Unique Impact; Executive/Personal Brand Coach, is a nationally recognized Executive l Personal Brand Coach who helps courageous leaders and innovative companies maximize their distinctive value to stand out and thrive in a world of ever-accelerating change. Through the proven success of her proprietary coaching model, Leadership Impact™, her firm has helped over 1,000 high achieving leaders and pivotal leadership teams to leverage their unique capabilities and deliver strategic, high value contributions through an engaged team effort. Gerrie has over 20 years of corporate experience, leading innovative company-wide change initiatives with high-performance senior leadership teams, and has held leadership roles in Fortune 500 corporations in diverse industries.  


R. Michael Keatley , Pharmacovigilance Officer, Janssen Scientific Affairs, LLC, has worked in the pharmaceutical industry for 27 years. He began his career at Merck & Co. in manufacturing and then transitioned into product safety where he assumed increasing responsibilities for review and analysis of product safety issues. In 2003 he joined Centocor Inc to manage adverse event reporting to FDA and Health Canada. In his current role in Janssen Scientific Affairs (JSA) he oversees commercial vendor compliance for product compliant reporting. He served as a member of the JSA Diversity and Inclusion Council and is currently a member of the JSA Culture initiative. Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is a pharmaceutical company of Johnson & Johnson, providing medicines for an array of health concerns in several therapeutic areas, including: attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), general medicine (acid reflux disease, infectious diseases), mental health (bipolar I disorder, schizophrenia), neurologics (Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, migraine prevention and treatment), pain management, and women’s health. It has produced and marketed many first-in-class prescription medications.


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