Spotlight On: 2017 Corporation of the Year, Sanofi
Last year we celebrated the 10th anniversary of Diversity Alliance for Science with the motto, “Be The Catalyst.” During the awards presentation at the East Coast Conference last May, we recognized both suppliers, individuals, and corporations for their continual efforts to invoke change. This quarter’s Spotlight feature showcases our Corporation of the Year for 2017, Sanofi. We talked with Kathleen Castore, Head of Supplier Diversity & Sustainability for Sanofi, who provided us a glimpse into her personal journey, what makes Sanofi a “catalyst”, and what advice they can give to suppliers looking to grow their business in the pharmaceutical industry.
Please share more about your role at Sanofi.
Castore: I have been with Sanofi and legacy companies for 17 years, working in the role of Head of Supplier Diversity for the past 8 years. I’m responsible for the strategy for increasing opportunities within our organization to buy locally, regionally, and nationally to ensure a good source of supply. We also want to develop mutually profitable business relationships with small, diverse and disability owned businesses to ensure their participation in our supplier program. I also lead our supplier development program, mentoring small and diverse businesses through organizations such as Diversity Alliance for Science, NMSDC NY, USBLN and NGLCC.
What excites you the most about the future of Supplier Diversity Initiative at Sanofi?
Castore: I think what excites me the most about our Supplier Diversity Initiative is that we still have work to do as we strive to be best in class, especially in the healthcare industry. There are multiple initiatives we intend to kick off this year such as our Tier II Reporting Program, for example. At Sanofi, we know the significance of “flow down,” having our prime suppliers aligning with our values and culture, and with the expectations of them using diverse businesses in their supply chain. There is always something to do that excites and surprises us along this journey!
What are you the proudest of regarding what Sanofi’s Supplier Diversity program is doing for diverse suppliers? What makes you a “catalyst”?
Castore: I am not sure I can really pinpoint one proud moment, but I can say it is probably the dramatic increase in spend with small and diverse businesses over the years due to the development of our Supplier Diversity Initiative. When I started in this role, supplier diversity was a very compliance driven program without full-time dedication and only supporting small businesses. It has now become an award-winning program dedicated to the development and utilization of additional classifications such as LGBT and disabled-owned businesses throughout our supply chain. It is an imperative from a business perspective going from “we need to do this” to “we have to do it” and understanding how it impacts the bottom line. We have done this through capacity building with current suppliers, mentoring programs, training, RFI/RFP opportunities, internal policies, advocacy collaboration, and buyer conference attendees. As an example, it’s so great to attend Diversity Alliance for Science conferences and see that many of the suppliers we weren’t working with a few years ago are now doing business with us!
What is your advice for diverse suppliers who are looking to grow their business within the pharmaceutical industry?
Castore: Working in the pharma industry is probably one of the most difficult industries to break into. Since we are risk adverse by nature, my first suggestion is to make sure you can service the needs of a large, regulated industry. A good way to start is in a Tier II position—grow your business and relationships that way and then convert to a Tier 1 when you have the ability to service us directly. Patience is also a key component to doing more or new business. In many cases, there likely isn’t an immediate opportunity due to factors such as long-term contracts or lack of availability for a new preferred supplier. The general recommendation is to build relationships over time and stay in contact with both the buyer and supplier diversity lead so that when an RFI/RFP comes up, your company will be top of mind. Of course, you should also consider participating in the Diversity Alliance for Science community by attending the conferences and becoming a member. There have been numerous success stories from Diversity Alliance for Science, especially for Sanofi.
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