International Women’s Day (IWD) was created to advance gender parity, and it’s become customary for businesses around the globe to share stories showcasing women’s resilience as they honor the date on March 8. This year, IWD hit our calendars only three days before the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. This meant some updates to the plans, but Labcorp still undertook its first concerted global enterprise activation using the power of our combined drug development and diagnostics businesses to recognize women who help further our mission to improve health and lives.
“For 2020, we shared 20 stories from women across our global business on our social media channels – and they were incredibly inspiring,” said Leigha, an employer brand marketing manager from Durham, N.C. “I was fortunate to interview each of these women. Every time I logged out of the video conference, I was awestruck by their commitment to people and patients. But what might stick with us even longer is how our people in the Asia-Pacific region remained strong as their countries were the first impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.”
In fact, as 35 sites across Labcorp and Covance, Labcorp’s drug development business, hosted an interactive activity that produced 3,114 handwritten sticky notes that recognized, thanked and celebrated women’s contributions across the enterprise, many of the cities where we have sites in the Asia-Pacific region were already locked down.
“We were concerned about our colleagues, especially those in China, who could obviously not participate in any activity that involved people gathering together,” Leigha said. “But at the same time, there was an ever-growing sense of pride as we heard stories from those colleagues and saw them adapt. The stories shared reminded us how resilient and committed our people are, and that gave us a feeling of unity and strength knowing that we had the resources to be part of a global solution.”
Our colleagues in Asia found creative ways to participate, sending photos wearing purple and standing with their arms in an equal sign in honor of this year’s theme, #EachForEqual, as well as sending virtual notes to each other to recognize past and current contributions.
On the other side of the world, our global Women’s Empowerment Network (WEN), an employee resource group with a strong base in the United States, continued to support its members as a sponsor of the global activities.
“This made it more important than ever that we recognized individual’s contributions to our business success,” said Justyna, a staff scientist and the Research Triangle Park WEN chapter lead who shared that our site in McLeansville, N.C., had a record 360 notes posted in a common area of the building.
According to Justyna, the local events were well received. In many offices, both men and women wore purple in solidarity and volunteers stood in common areas to explain the wall activity and encourage people to take a moment to recognize their colleagues.
“I appreciate that Labcorp recognized International Women’s Day in a visual way at our Durham, N.C., site, and that so many people took time out from their normal routine to be there,” said Justin an IT engineer.
WEN also hosted a fireside chat with Judi Seltz, Labcorp’s Chief Human Resource Officer, in advance of IWD. The event was available for colleagues to join virtually if they were unable or too far away to attend in person.
At the time, such gatherings were still permitted, but there was an awareness of the growing need for safe and sanitary interactions.
“We handed out hand sanitizer and made the event contact-free, but that didn’t diminish the personal value it brought to all of us,” said Joy, global talent program manager. “Judi’s advice that evening felt very relevant and raw. It was such a great way for our WEN members to get to know a new leader, and I think her words will stick with many of us for years to come. In fact, Judi talked about the hidden responsibilities that women have and how much impact they create. That feels even more relevant right now.”
While the pandemic is not over in many parts of the world, our colleagues in Asia have started returning to work with added safety precautions. Employees in other locations are working remotely as their roles allow, and others have been working onsite with additional safety measures throughout this time.
“We’ve seen one of the women we featured in our campaign being interviewed on CNBC, sharing how Labcorp is developing and scaling our testing capabilities,” Leigha said. “Others are helping as we partner with biotech companies to develop therapies for COVID-19. And others are working to ensure the other work we’ve started, like our commitment to oncology, continues. There are so many more whose work is equally important, and they all deserve recognition. Today, as we are facing uncertainty and new challenges, like schooling children while juggling conference calls, I hope all of these women realize how their resilience is leading the way.”