International Women's Day and Women's History Month in March shine a spotlight on the contributions of women, including achievements related to the workplace. Baxter prides itself on building an inclusive and diverse environment in which women and men can thrive and advance on a personal and professional level.
The company is involved in initiatives to attract and develop talented women in the organization, and provides employees with opportunities to come together through internal communities and business resource groups, or BRGs. These groups provide a forum for employees to develop skills, experience valuable cultural connections and support key business initiatives.
One of these BRGs, Baxter Women Leaders, has been growing steadily since launching in Baxter's Northern Illinois locations, and now includes chapters in California, Belgium and in the Asia Pacific region. In Belgium, where Baxter's headquarters for Belgium and Luxembourg, a large manufacturing facility and a research and development center are located, the Baxter Women Leaders chapter has made it a priority to create a local initiative to support careers for women in all roles and levels at the company.
Hélène Laroumanie, leader of the Belgium chapter and senior manager, process development at Baxter, says, "It's important to us to foster a culture that develops, leverages and promotes the capabilities of women at all levels. Our Baxter Women Leaders chapter provides employees with connections, insights and tools to succeed in their careers."
Last year, Baxter's employees in India created a community called Baxter Women in Action Network, or BAX WIN, that provides female employees across the country with opportunities to network, collaborate and develop professionally. During the group's launch event, India's leadership team reiterated its commitment to hiring and developing women employees as a focus and long-term priority.
Ongmu Gombu, Baxter's director, HR for India and the lead for BAX WIN, said, "Through this initiative we hope to connect the maximum number of women employees in the area so they can discuss and share experiences and learn from each other. This community reaffirms our focus and seriousness towards driving diversity initiatives across the country."
Developing Talent at Baxter
This culture of strong female leadership is evident from inspiring stories of women at Baxter who are advancing in their careers and making a positive difference in their communities.
As a high school student in Mountain Home, Ark., Amber Williamson had only a mild interest in technology. However, after a teacher encouraged her to get involved with the school's FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) robotics team, Amber was hooked. Six weeks of building a robot and interacting with mentors from Baxter, a sponsor of the team, opened her eyes to career paths in engineering.
Seven years later, Amber is a graduate of the University of Arkansas with an engineering degree and works at Baxter as an engineer at its Mountain Home facility, where she designs, manages, installs and supports equipment used to produce medical devices.
"I came across those who did not believe I was serious about my career choice or that I could make it through the grueling curriculum," Amber shares. "I proved them wrong."
Since college, Amber has been giving back to the program that helped her on her career path. Last year alone, she volunteered more than 550 hours mentoring students in the FIRST program as they designed and built a robot. She hopes she can inspire other young people—especially girls—to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
Tippawan Jitpimolmard, Baxter's Thailand country manager, also believes in the power of education to transform young minds. As an invited lecturer at several universities, she dedicates her free time to sharing best practices in business and ethics with pharmaceutical students, who also benefit from a personal educational grant that she makes every year.
She tries to inspire by example in her professional life—whether she's working closely with the Thai government to increase access to treatment for patients with end stage renal disease and hemophilia, serving as the founder and president of the Marketing Pharmacy Association of Thailand, or working as a partner with the Habitat for Humanity Foundation in the rebuilding efforts following 2010 floods in the country.
"I feel that it's important to be guided by ethics in the work that we do," explains Tippawan. "In the healthcare industry, we have the ability to make a powerful positive impact on critically ill patients as well as in the communities in which we live and work."
Tippawan is the company's first female country manager in Thailand, and she recently achieved another "first" in the country. She was named "Business Role Model of the Year 2013" by the Foundation of Science and Technology Council of Thailand (FSTT)—the first female pharmacist in the private healthcare sector to be recognized by FSTT for the award. Presented to business professionals in the applied sciences and technology field, the award recognizes individuals who have gained business success while maintaining the highest standard of ethics and making significant contributions to country, community and society development.
For Tippawan, her accomplishments and success are the result of her own dedication, skills and hard work, as well as the support she's received from Baxter during her career with the company.
"My professional journey has been rewarding for me," she says. "I appreciate working for a company that values my talents and expertise and provides me with opportunities and support to advance even further in my career."
Fostering an Inclusive Workplace
Since her days as one of the few women in her engineering classes, Amber has taken away an appreciation for the insights that different backgrounds can bring to the table.
"Inclusion is something to be embraced," Amber says. "I tell young women considering careers in engineering that they have a fresh new outlook that their peers may not possess, which makes them an asset to any company."
To read more about Baxter's efforts in global inclusion and diversity, click here.