Knowledge Center

Eli Lilly and Company—Employee Journeys and People Strategy

Women feel like “imposters.” Asian employees feel like they are “backstage.” African American employees feel like they are always “on stage.” Latino employees feel “invisible” compared to their counterparts. These are a few examples of employee-reported biases and barriers unpacked by Lilly’s honest, compelling initiative Employee Journeys and People Strategy. The result, according to employees we spoke with during our 2019 Catalyst Award review and assessment, was the creation of tangible strategies to pave the way for a more open, transparent, and inclusive workplace culture. 

In 2015, senior leaders took the global pharmaceutical company’s go-to-market expertise in understanding patient journeys and turned it inward to better understand employees’ career journeys and barriers to advancement. The initiative’s focus on “moments of truth” and creating a common language has helped employees more easily relate to and understand one another’s individual and cultural experiences. The result is a strong, company-wide network of allies and champions. 

Highlights include: 

  • Storytelling focused on inspiring employees to engage with the journeys of women, African American, Latino, and Asian employees. For instance, actors portray real employees’ workplace experiences in professionally produced videos. 
  • Innovation Labs where leaders and employees share their experiences and together create actionable solutions. 
  • EMERGE, a CEO-led sponsorship program providing career support for African-American, Latina, and Asian women at the senior director-level and above. 
  • Data analyses to inform the initiative’s work and measure progress against short-term representation goals in management on a quarterly basis and report out results to the broader organization. New goals are set every two years. 
  • Intentional talent management, including more frequent feedback, periodically revisiting employee-potential questionnaires, and training such as global Conscious Inclusion and cultural literacy training for managers to explore the impact of bias and to produce action plans to achieve more inclusive leadership. 

From 2015 to 2017, women’s representation increased across senior-level bands globally, despite a decrease in the overall size of Lilly’s workforce. Women’s representation increased from 29% to 40% in the C-suite; from 26% to 29% among senior vice presidents and vice presidents; and from 34% to 42% among senior directors. In the United States, women of color at the senior director level increased from 6% to 11%. Additionally, women comprise 36% of Lilly’s Board of Directors.

About Eli Lilly and Company
Lilly is a global healthcare leader that unites caring with discovery to create medicines that make life better for people around the world. We were founded more than a century ago by a man committed to creating high-quality medicines that meet real needs, and today we remain true to that mission in all our work. Across the globe, Lilly employees work to discover and bring life-changing medicines to those who need them, improve the understanding and management of disease, and give back to communities through philanthropy and volunteerism. To learn more about Lilly, please visit us at and