Case Study: Baxter International Inc.—Building Talent EdgeJan 22, 2009
In 2005, Baxter’s Asia Pacific operations developed Building Talent Edge, a talent management initiative to cultivate a more effective, diverse, and sustainable organization built for growth and maximized opportunities. The initiative strives to develop a 50/50 gender balance across management-level and critical positions throughout 14 countries in the region. Although Baxter aimed to reach its target by 2010, its goal was achieved two years ahead of plan through robust recruitment and development strategies together with strong communication and accountability. Building Talent Edge reflects the culture of Baxter’s Asia Pacific operations, which is inclusive and reinforced by shared leadership expectations and values among all staff. Baxter’s regional president and the Asia Pacific Leadership Team (APLT) execute elements of the initiative and oversee regional talent planning to ensure gender balance.
Components of the recruitment and development strategies require that external recruiters present diverse candidate slates of 50 percent women. Similar targets apply to training programs such as Leadership Acceleration Program (LEAP), Baxter’s program for high-potential talent, and Fitness training, which aims to improve the clinical, product, and marketing knowledge of Asia Pacific teams. These efforts are linked to positive business outcomes. In addition, the initiative promotes cultural sensitivity in managing talent throughout the region by providing all women—including those in countries where women are disadvantaged by cultural norms—access to leadership development and relocation opportunities. Strong accountability is enforced through close performance monitoring that is measured and communicated regularly. Metrics measure progress toward the goals of retaining 90 to 100 percent of top talent and achieving gender balance. These goals are performance management objectives that ensure accountability to the talent management initiative.
Building Talent Edge has delivered solid increases for women in critical positions across Baxter’s Asia Pacific operations: women in management and executive positions increased from 31 percent in 2004 to 50 percent in 2008, and four out of 16 general managers are women. Representation of women in individual countries is also strong: approximately 30 to 70 percent of management and executive positions in each of the 14 respective countries are held by women. From 2006 to 2008, women’s representation on the APLT increased from 25 to 37 percent.