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A place where we can all be our authentic selves

Posted by
Vlastimil Vanco, Global Communications & Company Reputation

UCB at once celebrates diversity and focuses on the competencies and contributions each person brings to the company and society as a whole. Pride Month is the perfect time to reiterate our commitment and pledge to fostering a truly inclusive working culture, grounded in fundamental respect for everyone. In that spirit, we are pleased to share the story of Jan Berger, a member of the Board of Directors at UCB and a proud member of the LGBTQIA+ community. 

Diversity matters because of who we are as a whole

There is diversity in every one of us. Whether it’s related to the diseases people live with — and UCB helps manage—, their background, their life story or in any other way, diversity is a fact. For Jan, covering up important parts of her life at work is not worth the energy, and this despite the risk of discrimination that the LGBTQ+ community still faces today.

“I decided I liked myself better as a whole person and not hiding parts of me. I decided that there was a lot of energy that was taken by hiding parts of me. So I didn’t do that, and I have chosen not to in my career. But I’m also very lucky that, in most cases, that has not been held against me,” she said. When Berger was asked to join the Board of UCB, Evelyn du Monceau, the then Chair, asked her to share her backstory. 

In that moment, Berger decided to give du Monceau the full picture. She discussed her wife and even asked if her sexual orientation would pose a problem. Du Monceau’s response? Berger remembers it this way: “She looked at me and said, ‘Of course not.’ We brought you to UCB because of what you can bring to the organization and to the world through UCB.”

Inclusivity is contagious

A recent study showed that 25% of LGBTQ+ people avoid coming out to others in their organization or teams out of fear of discrimination, lack of respect and appreciation. Around 20% avoid out-of-office work events because of the fear of not being able to be themselves. And 20% to 40% of people search for another job because of discomfort felt in the workplace due to their sexual orientation. If we aim to be a leading company with the best outcomes for patients, losing our talent for this reason is out of the question. 

We must work hard to maintain this culture of inclusivity. For Berger, life-long learning is the key. “I want to know people. I want to meet people, I want to learn," she said. Learning and open-mindedness lead to progress. 

Pride Month is the perfect reminder that understanding, open discussion, and inclusivity create a culture that can be implemented and nourished—for the good of all. Berger encourages all UCB team members to engage on the topic of inclusivity as much as possible: “Start discussions, speak up for what you believe in, and be a person others can come to in moments of doubt.

In addition, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Formulate them respectfully, but always ask them to those who can answer. Remember that dialogue is essential, and inclusivity is contagious. If you’re asking questions and others are doing it as well, it becomes the norm.”

Berger feels a sense of satisfaction when she reflects on a company like ours: “I have a great deal of pride in being part of a company where there is no room for discrimination, a company where I am able to be my authentic self.”

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