As Horizon Grows, So Does Its Commitment to Diversity
Horizon Stories Team
April 29, 2022
After seven years as a clinical research scientist in the Northeast, first for a biotech lab, then a pharmaceutical company, Jaya Kartha wasn’t feeling that her voice mattered. As a professional. As a woman of color. She needed more.
Step 1 was going back to school for an MBA from the University of Connecticut, not far from her home at the time. But what about her next move after graduation?
In September 2020, she attended one of the largest career expos for people of color, the annual conference of the National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA), in search of an answer.
“I was looking for a company where I knew I could make an impact – a company that would not only give me a seat at the table but be focused on hearing what I had to say,” Kartha said. “That’s when I found Horizon.”
Horizon, an NBMBAA conference partner for three years, connected with Kartha, who eventually joined the company last June. She’s now in the Horizon Management Development Program, a three-year rotation through different business areas within the commercial organization to build her skills and determine which area she may want to work in.
What she has seen and experienced at Horizon so far is precisely what she felt was missing before: a celebration of different backgrounds, perspectives and life experiences.
“Before Horizon, there were times when I would be the only woman or person of color on a team,” Kartha said. “It’s obvious all the way up to the most senior leaders that Horizon cares about diversity and inclusion and wants to make sure it’s reflected in its employees.”
Stories like Kartha’s are not isolated occurrences. Over the last couple of years, while the company has been growing rapidly in all areas, the team has been busy not only interviewing but also putting strategies and goals in place to broaden the diversity of the candidates applying for Horizon positions. One of the most successful strategies in this area: increasing the number and quality of partnerships Horizon has with organizations that help improve career opportunities for people in under-represented groups. In addition to the NBMBAA, Horizon partners with the following organizations for recruitment, development, education and networking activities:
- America’s Urban Campus, a group of 20 Chicago-area non-profit higher education institutions representing more than 210,000 students
- The Academy Group, which provides opportunities for young Black and Hispanic people from communities in need
- Prospanica, an organization that empowers those in the Hispanic community to achieve their full educational, economic and social potential
- Chronically Capable, which connects people living with a chronic illness or disability with inclusive employers
- National Sales Network (NSN), a non-profit that supports professional development for people in sales and sales management
Meanwhile, Horizon also is exploring partnerships with military/veteran groups and LGBTQ+ organizations.
And that’s on top of other measures to help improve diversity, equity, inclusion and allyship, including arranging diversity learning seminars for recruiters, requiring unconscious bias training for hiring managers and teams, avoiding gender-specific pronouns in job descriptions and continuously analyzing diversity hiring data to help ensure Horizon reflects the patients and communities it serves.
“Last year, Horizon increased its gender diversity in upper-level management roles from the year before, as well as its ethnic diversity in roles at all levels,” said Sasha Diskin, vice president, talent, diversity and inclusion. “While we’re happy with those results, we know there are areas where we need to improve, and that’s why, over the last couple of years, we’ve focused on strengthening our partnerships with organizations like the NBMBAA, NSN and Chronically Capable, which has resulted in an increase in diverse candidates for our job openings. Our team is deeply committed to transparency on our DEIA progress, and we’ve set a bold ambition to be a pre-eminent biotech career destination for women and under-represented talent.”
Juan Herrera (above), senior manager, corporate marketing, sensed that immediately when Horizon began recruiting him for his role last summer. Like Kartha, he wanted to work for a company that valued and reflected diversity and inclusion, both externally and internally. Horizon, for example, continues to grow diverse communities and develop strategic pillars through RiSE, its internal network of employees dedicated to inclusion, diversity, equity and allyship.
“I quickly discovered, through a bit of research and how inclusive the recruiter was, that this was the company for me,” Herrera said. “By talking to the recruiter, I could tell the commitment Horizon had to supporting diverse communities and encouraging employees to be part of the solution. It was something I’d never heard of in a job before.”
Now, for employees like Herrera and Kartha, that commitment is an everyday benefit – a beacon to continue attracting diverse employees, and a template for other companies to follow.
“Now that I work here, I can say Horizon truly stands behind its employees and the causes and organizations it supports,” Kartha said. “Whether it’s through RiSE, the welcoming culture that celebrates the different backgrounds of employees or the times when Horizon chooses to speak up during world events when they could be silent, there is a clear, comprehensive strategy in place that is quickly going to make Horizon a leader in this space.”
It’s obvious all the way up to the most senior leaders that Horizon cares about diversity and inclusion and wants to make sure it’s reflected in its employees.—JAYA KARTHA