Horizon Therapeutics Puts Culture and Diversity Front and Center of Its HR Strategy



When it comes to innovation in human resources, it can often be beneficial to look to the newer faces in the industry and take cues from them.

Startups tend to be founded by the youngest and most forward-thinking people around. These entrepreneurial individuals are often fresh out of college and are full of enthusiasm and fresh ideas. They are also often unburdened by years, or even decades, of attitudes such as "Well, that's the way we've always done it," and are usually cognizant of social issues and the areas of work and life which could be fairer and more just.

In just eleven short years, Horizon Therapeutics has grown from a fledgling company into one which employs over 1,000 people and has eleven pharmaceutical products on the market. This growth cannot be ignored, and Horizon Therapeutics may be a great place to look for inspiration when it comes to human resources.

Horizon Therapeutics

Despite its rapid growth, Horizon Therapeutics attributes much of its success to being able to maintain the mentality of a brand-new startup - especially when it comes to acquiring and retaining the very best talent in the industry.

The pharmaceutical company has a sharp focus on building and empowering agile and innovative teams which can work together with speed. They've also made strides in creating a working environment which accurately reflects the diversity of its patients

"I think managing talent is truly core to what we do and core to our business strategy," said Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer at Horizon Therapeutics, Irina Konstantinovsky. "Many CEOs write in their opening letters to employees that employees are their greatest asset, but this idea of an asset is quite confusing to me. Employees can leave - we don't own them. What we need to do is invest in talent heavily - we truly believe in the idea that talent is our greatest investment. When we invest in talent everything seems to fall into place."

Horizon Therapeutics puts three core values - transparency, accountability, and growth - at the center of everything it does and actively searches for talent which possesses the skills to fulfill them.

One personality trait which Horizon Therapeutics sees in patients struggling with life-changing diseases is what it calls "grit" - the determination to keep fighting despite overwhelming odds against them. Because of this, Horizon Therapeutics looks for that same grit in its employees - people who will give all they have to develop solutions to some of the pharmaceutical industry's biggest challenges.

"Our patients deal with rare and difficult diseases that can make it difficult to deal with everyday life, and they have to have grit," said Konstantinovsky. "Similarly, we like our employees to have that same determination and motivation."

STEM Diversity

Another element of its talent pool which Horizon Therapeutics is determined to grow is a more diverse range of people in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) roles. These fields have historically had a problem with diversity - particularly along lines of gender - and this imbalance is something Horizon Therapeutics wants to help change.

iBIO is a life sciences industry association that represents life sciences employees at member companies, universities, service providers, and venture firms. Now, Horizon Therapeutics has partnered with this influential organization and is supporting iBIO's Charitable Programs which are working to diversify the STEM talent pipeline.

The program works with young girls in grades three to eight to help build passion in STEM careers through engaging hands-on activities, exposure to influential female leaders in STEM careers, and real-world examples of how STEM is used. Horizon's donation is set to support the development of a digital platform which will make activity training videos, monthly school contests, support, and special content more available to teachers on the front line of education.

"Innovative STEM programs inspired an early passion for science and offered diverse experiences that helped shape my career," said Executive Vice President for Research and Development and Chief Scientific Officer at Horizon Therapeutics, Shao-Lee Lin, M.D., Ph.D. "It is a privilege to bestow the same opportunities through Horizon's support and recognition that programs like iBIO's StellarGirls and STEMGirls Camp provide this next generation the ability to answer the challenges of tomorrow and to see new possibilities."

Final Thoughts

Innovative new companies like Horizon Therapeutics are ideally placed to help teach the industry how to manage talent and address diversity issues. Older organizations can often get bogged down in tradition and be resistant to change, and it can pay dividends to look to some of the more fresh-faced brands for inspiration.

"Each year participants demonstrate significantly increased positive feelings about science activities and report that they are much more likely to want to work in a science job after attending," said Ann Vogel, Senior Vice President for Charitable Programs at iBIO.


You can hear Horizon Therapeutics speak on the hot topics in the industry at HR Life Sciences 2019, taking place this December in San Diego, CA.

Download the agenda today for more information and insights.



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