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Afrene Jeffers Campbell

Vice President and Head Counsel – International Employment, Takeda

Recognising and celebrating differences in a large global workforce is pivotal in helping a multinational company effectively meet its diversity, equity and inclusivity ambition.


As a global pharmaceutical company with around 50,000 personnel, there is acute awareness within Takeda of ensuring diversity, equity and inclusivity (DEI) synchronicity across regions and countries. The company’s DEI values are central to its corporate strategy — in terms of both its patient inclusivity and people experience — and sensitively refined to meet the needs of specific demographics. Our values, which include a commitment to integrity and respect for all individuals, have always been embedded in our practices throughout our 240+ year history, making DEI a core priority for our people.

Adapting to each demographic

Afrene Jeffers Campbell, vice president and head counsel for international employment, explains how the DEI ambition is pulled through the business in different ways while underlining the importance of synchronicity between global, regional and local programmes. “The way to manage it is to celebrate the differences,” she says. “Philosophically, the direction comes from the centre in terms of what the organisation stands for — but recognising those differences in countries is important. By collecting information on demographics, we can focus on core areas we might use, globally and supplementally, that are of relevance in a particular country.”

Global employee resource groups

With a Global DEI Council and Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) of like-minded individuals, they meet to challenge the business, identify growth or development opportunities and seek to broaden the DEI perspective. Their 11 ERGs include the Black Leadership Council; Building Asian Leaders; abilities forum, Enable; Faith at Work; Gender Parity Network; early careers group, Ignite; Hispanic network Impacto; cross-cultural network Mosaic; Veterans’ Group; and Take Pride (LGBTQIA+ inclusion).

Having a sense of belonging is important.

DEI also extends into communities by putting patients first; representing, understanding and supporting under-served communities to address unmet healthcare needs, including improving access to clinical trials. The company has an additional sustainable societal impact pillar, which includes applying diversity to its supply chain and procurement process, which helps diversify the talent pools in the communities it serves to enable long-term positive impact across our healthcare ecosystem.

Sense of belonging

Having a sense of belonging is important, explains Campbell, who leads the International Employment Legal Group. “It encourages people to stay in an organisation. Part of that is understanding who our people are, so we have policies and programmes that reflect them and meet their needs.” A voluntary ‘Self ID’ programme, inviting employees to identify how they recognise themselves, has been launched to deliver a better understanding of their people.

Listening to employees

Data is also highlighting how Takeda is performing on gender balance in leadership roles, while employee experience surveys and external accolades also benchmark progress. Emphasising the role of legal as an enabling function in DEI, she adds: “The biggest enabler for our DEI programmes is a positive and open mindset and a willingness to listen to others and learn.”

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