DEI immersion with Regeneron

The Center for Equity, Gender & Leadership (EGAL) partners with organizations across industries to help advance diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts more broadly in business and society. We are pleased to have Regeneron as a corporate partner and highlight their unique approach to DEI education. We believe their highly-immersive approach serves as a positive model for all leaders.

We recently interviewed Regeneron’s Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer, Smita Pillai, to hear more about how they approach DEI as a company, what makes their approach unique, and some of the recent experiential activities they’ve curated for employees.

Regeneron is driven by a strong sense of purpose. Their DEI work is core to their mission, culture, and commitment to patients. Regeneron’s DEI strategy, “Better Workplace, Better Science, Better World” provides a framework to advance talent, fuel innovation pipelines, and deliver more value to partners and communities. It also underscores their commitment and responsibility as an employer, a global leader in science, and a citizen of the world to advance DEI in order to help make the world healthier.

Regeneron’s approach to DEI & culture is truly unique. This summer, they held their 2nd annual DEI Executive Education Retreat. Several leaders from their DEI executive council, leadership council, ERG sponsors, and friends of DEI came together, as allies, with a goal to experience and learn from the history of LGBTQ+ equality and advance their collective efforts on DEI and culture at Regeneron. When we spoke with Smita, she explained her philosophy — that in order for any initiative to be successful, it is important to understand the “why” behind it. For Regeneron, she explained, “the ‘why’ for this retreat was simple — by understanding our collective past, we are able to care better for our colleagues, patients and the world.” Their team spent the day understanding the journey of LGBTQ+ equality walking through the streets of New York City and visiting Stonewall for a curated tour, followed by an in depth discussion on LGBTQ+ rights with HRC, and then finally, seeing a play called Love+Science — written by one of Regeneron’s very own senior scientists.

Rather than mandatory diversity training, Regeneron takes a thoughtfully crafted experiential education approach to diversity topics. Regeneron embraces DEI values through real-life, immersive experiences; an approach that strongly aligns with the work we do here at EGAL. In a leader-led DEI model, it makes a critical difference when leaders personally experience diverse journeys and become allies in their own unique way. Following the experience, some of their leaders said:

“It moved me a lot to see senior leaders investing their time and wanting to understand the issues affecting the LGBTQ+ community,” said Kydah Dang, Associate Director DO & PM Planning & Strategy,

“It was the first time I had ever done any organized walking tour in New York City,” said Nouhad Husseini, SVP Business Development & Corporate Strategy. “Halfway through, I realized I was in a very different mindset than I usually have when I’m in the city. I never take a moment to look around and process what is truly going on with a learning mindset”

“The discussion that followed HRC’s presentation about policies affecting the LGBTQ+ community in the United States was complex and thoughtful,” said Amanda Seeff-Charny, Executive Director Patient Advocacy. “We realized as a group that although we might think we are progressive people living in New York, the civil liberties of so many people across the country are being threatened.”

Regeneron’s style and approach to DEI makes a difference. In 2022, they put a governance model in place that supports their DEI strategy at every level of the organization, incorporates leadership accountability, and establishes outcomes to measure progress against goals. “We also focused on creating intentional, psychologically safe spaces for conversation and storytelling, raising understanding and awareness of critical DEI issues, building empathy and engaging everyone from leadership to our underrepresented groups,” Smita explained. Doing these things is how Regeneron improves in continuum. When we center our employee’s humanity, we see the domino effect it has on the entire culture.

Regeneron’s Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are also an integral part of their DEI strategy. ERGs support their efforts to recruit, retain and develop diverse talent; advance the leadership pipeline; and collect important feedback on company policies and procedures as well as the workplace experience of underrepresented employee groups. They empower colleagues by creating opportunities to learn from one another, share lived experiences, connect and find new ways to acknowledge, celebrate and learn from the diversity of the workforce. “With our efforts and genuine investments,” Smita elaborates, “I have noticed a significant shift in leaders taking full ownership of DEI and culture efforts. Some of the most senior leaders have stepped up as sponsors for various employee groups, DEI councils and more. They speak up and stand up as allies and not bystanders when things get rough outside the four walls of the company. We get the support and commitment of our leaders no matter what happens outside.”

Finally, we asked Smita to share one thing Regeneron wants other companies to know. “We want other companies to know that Regeneron truly believes in the impact a diverse workforce and inclusion can have on scientific innovations,” she told us. “We believe that better science demands diversity. Our work sets us apart and we are delighted to be sharing best practices in this space.”

Our conversation with Smita reminded us of our own Equity Fluent Leadership courses, where participants are encouraged to work through real-life conflict facing uncomfortable or challenging topics. We were so excited to learn about Regeneron’s successful and ever-evolving DEI initiatives and left our conversation with Smita feeling inspired by Regeneron’s capability and willingness to make change possible in business. Regeneron is currently planning more experiences and experiments with a scientific bent. We look forward to seeing what they come up with next.

Who is Regeneron?

Regeneron is one of the most successful and well-known Biotech companies in the world. Regeneron invents and researches potential new medicines for a wide range of serious conditions, many of which are top-ranking in health concerns for individuals not only in the U.S., but across the globe. Regeneron’s industry-leading antibody technologies and scientific teams enable them to identify and study dozens of potential drug candidates simultaneously.

At every stage of research, Regeneron works closely with patient advocacy groups and specific disease communities to listen, understand and apply their experiences to their work. These insights help them learn from those most intimately impacted by certain diseases, ensuring that Regeneron help meet their needs. This guidance process especially helps to inform their clinical trial designs, trial recruitment processes, and therapeutic delivery systems. Regeneron celebrates and appreciates their relationships with each unique disease community and are proud to support the efforts of advocacy organizations.



Center for Equity, Gender & Leadership (EGAL)

At the heart of UC Berkeley's Business School, the Center for Equity, Gender, and Leadership educates equity-fluent leaders to ignite and accelerate change.