Biogen’s Global D&I Mastermind: Yvette Pittman

(from left to right): Stephanie Browne, Yvette Pittman, Dr. Rebecca Rosen, and Dr. Robert Rodriguez.

By Jailene Adorno

As Manager of Employee Resource Networks (ERN) and Workforce Initiatives at Biogen, Yvette Pittman oversees all ERN initiatives to ensure that they are aligned with Biogen’s global diversity and inclusion strategy.

“We currently have five ERNs globally, with multiple chapters spanning three countries,” said Pittman. Pittman felt that spark of interest in diversity and inclusion, and ERNs after attending a Women’s Innovation Network (WIN) event. WIN is Biogen’s most established ERN. The event featured inspirational guest speakers and many of Pittman’s colleagues left with the kind of energy that pushed them to do more.

“It became apparent to me that these events made a significant impact on an individual,” she said. “My colleagues walked away either energized or with a newfound perspective and approach to their work/personal lives.”

From 2015 to 2017, Pittman served as the co-chair of WIN from Biogen’s Research Triangle Park (RTP) site, creating and implementing events that were focused on community involvement, leadership and personal development, and gender awareness.

According to Pittman, Employee Resource Networks are critical to our organization’s diversity and inclusion efforts by providing a forum for connectedness and promoting a sense of community for our employees.  ERNs bring cultural competence to our organization allowing employees to gain knowledge of different cultural practices and individual perspectives.  ERNs are also advocates for change whether at a policy or programmatic level. Lastly, ERNs create learning opportunities for building more inclusive leaders.

“Our ERNs are not afraid to tackle real issues,” said Pittman. “For example, in 2016, House Bill 2 was a North Carolina legislature house bill that directly affected our LGBTQ communities.” Biogen’s ReachOUT Network (LGBTQ Network) was not only vocal about the House bill, they even went out to organize an event to educate Biogen employees about the legislation.

“Within Biogen, our ERNs success can be measured via company surveys highlighting increased career opportunities, leadership development, and an overall shift in employee culture,” said Pittman.

Pittman mentioned that other Biogen ERN efforts have created events such as addressing Men Allies in the Workplace and Gender Equity in the Workplace.

“We have leaders at all levels of our organization who are strong advocates for the work and execute on the diversity and inclusion strategic plan. This results in increased employee satisfaction and engagement, an inclusive culture, improved business outcomes, customer-centricity and focused branding aligning with those we serve.   In addition, when leveraged, our ERNs can be integral in diversity recruitment efforts promoting Biogen as a company of choice,” she said.