Nikolina Škaron, AstraZeneca : Our people are our greatest asset

Therefore through numerous initiatives and concrete actions we are strengthening the culture of Equity, Inclusion  and Diversity by role modelling inclusive leadership, fostering diversity and building a trustful work environment where speak-up is encouraged, for Diplomacy&Commere says Nikolina Škaron, MD, government Affairs & Market Access Manager at AstraZeneca. We are delivering our sustainability strategy through three priorities: access to healthcare, environmental protection, ethics and transparency, says Mrs Škaron.

  1. What would you single out as the basic values and postulates of AstraZeneca, and to what extent is the pharmaceutical industry, in general, adapted to empower women and other groups in terms of representation and internal organization?
    From global perspective we at AstraZeneca follow the UN’s Global Sustainable Development Goals and the 5th out of 17 Sustainable Development Goals is related to Gender Equality – Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. This being said, it’s in our company’s DNA to encourage diversity and inclusion and every employee plays active role in this process. The initiatives of AstraZeneca Balkans towards building a culture of inclusion and diversity, equality, are not just a one-off activity but a continuous strategic priority for the whole company. We believe that only through constant efforts and actions in this area we can achieve the important goal that is a part of our Sustainable development agenda as well as a key pillar in our Balkans HR Strategy the HR Strategy. The latter contains the following main streamlines: Life-long Learning, Employee Experience, Attracting talents and Diversity & Inclusion. As of today there are more than 200 female colleagues in our Cluster, around 80 ladies having joined just in the past 2 years. Also, more than 65% of the managers in AstraZeneca Balkans are women. What I would like to point too is that the culture of equity, diversity and inclusion consists of many aspects and gender equality is only one of this. We are also a role model for generation mix at work with 55% millennials and 45% gen X. In our cluster we have people from 9 nationalities collaborating and supporting each other on a daily base. For 2022 almost 60 colleagues were having a career development (lateral or vertical) and 74% of them being ladies. 81% of all employees are with favorable response to the questions in Diversity and Inclusion category within the regular employee satisfaction survey. In AstraZeneca Croatia 11 women had their development this year (out of 21 development opportunity). In AstraZeneca Balkans we are also having employee working group, which is focused on the I&D topics. They are participating on a voluntary base and they are involving our colleagues every year in more than 10 different I&D initiatives like “Power of diversity week”, Girls belong here etc.

2. As a large company, AstraZeneca organizes and is part of numerous actions and projects. Which ones would you single out for our readers and why are they important?
Globally our plan is to have a negative carbon footprint by 2030. Since the beginning of this year, in Croatia we have been ordering fully electric cars, with the goal by 2025 to have fully electric fleet. All our colleagues are actively involved in different sustainable development activities. This is also proven by the fact that over 30 causes promoting social responsibility were implemented over the past year and a half on the initiative of our employees in the cluster. Among our other activities in the Cluster are hive adoption, youth smoking prevention program and many others. This year on a global level AstraZeneca has announced a $400 million investment in our global AZ Forest programme, raising our commitment to plant 200 million trees by 2030 and ensure their long-term survival. Our Croatian team is also supporting this cause by planting different areas with trees every year. Last year we planted a thousand trees in Sljemen and thus further strengthened our commitment to environmental protection and sustainability. And we will continue sustainably to upbuild on these initiatives in order to make our environment better and healthier.

3. “Woman in business” is it still “exotic” or has it become our everyday life?
At AstraZeneca, we recognize that our people are our greatest asset and know what’s possible with a talented and diverse team that believes in what science can do. We believe that the big multinational companies have even higher responsibility and impact on this ambition. In Croatia in general, perception of women in business continues to change in a positive way. This can also be confirmed by the results of SELECTIO women’s index which measures the share of women in the management of companies in the CROBEX index. Namely, for 2023, the SELECTIO index of women is 22.2%, which is 9.36 p.p. more compared to last year. Also, the percentage (33.3%) of companies in the CROBEX index that do not have a single woman in their management, so called zero companies, decreased by 9.57 p.p. compared to last year.

4. What are your experiences on the road to success?
Growing my career in AstraZeneca, what I can say is that woman in business is everyday life in our company. In AstraZeneca I got the opportunity to work on different positions and projects, to grow and learn. I always have felt empowered and encouraged to develop my career while at the same time I am enjoying being a mother. At AstraZeneca, we are committed to being a great place to work for the benefit of our employees and our business. The company is very dedicated and fosters an environment where everyone feels valued, heard and respected as well as creating conditions for all people to succeed and thrive.

5. What would you highlight from the plans until the end of the year, which concern the wider population (new innovative drugs, expansion of the list of drugs at the expense of the state, some new research, price increases…)?
We are witnessing a wave of new therapeutic solutions that transform the outlook for patients in a positive direction. The share of the population over the age of 65 is increasing, which is associated with an increase in both chronic and oncological diseases. In partnership with our country’s institutions, we are working towards changing the way of thinking about healthcare to meet society’s expectations. Health care spending, particularly drug therapy, is a public investment, both in the well-being of citizens and in our economic future. Better health leads to prosperity. Healthier people enjoy longer and more productive working lives and spend less on health care. Among AstraZeneca’s top priorities is providing more patients with access to innovative therapies.