Jackie: Hello, everyone. I'm so glad that you're here. My guest today is Irina Konstantanovsky. Irina is the Executive Vice President, Chief Human Resources and Chief Diversity Officer of Horizon Therapeutics. Before joining Horizon, she was Vice-president of Global Talent at Baxter International Incorporated and spent 15 years in senior partner and director roles at Towers Watson. Irina holds a Bachelor of Arts and Education from the University of Buenos Aires and Master's Degrees in Higher Education and Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University. In addition, she currently serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors for the Human Resource Management Association of Chicago and is also on the YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago board.
Irina, thank you so much for being with me today.
Irina: Thank you Jackie. Good morning.
Jackie: Good morning. So Irina, will you tell us a little bit more about yourself, your family, your background, your identity, anything that you'd like to share?
Irina: Oh, for sure. So born and raised in Argentina, I come from Buenos Aires. My mom is actually Russian, so I was first-generation of, of Argentinians. Which was, it's an unusual immigration that my mom had. So it was always like I had like the mom who, you know, who spoke Spanish with an accent. And now, you know, I'm the mom who speaks English with an accent, in my, in my household.
So grew up in, Buenos Aires, came to the United States for grad school, for what I promised would be a couple of years and then ended up being almost 30 now. You know, my family's here. I have two beautiful daughters, 18 and 21. And, you know, that's kind of who I am: half Latino, half Russian, and a lot of other mixes there as well.
Jackie: Right. Irina, thanks for sharing that. Let's talk a little bit about your career. Tell us about Horizon Therapeutics and what you do there in your role. You've got a big role, so I'd love to hear a little more about.
Irina: So, Horizon Therapeutics is a bio-pharmaceutical company and we are in the space of solving problems in rare diseases. And what's important about that is that, as a company, we focus on, on, on places where Big Pharma would not go. So, you know, we look for solutions or we look for medicines, and we have 11 medicines in the market, that are usually in a space where there are very few patient populations.
So, you know, as you think about our mission and our patient centricity, it's really going where others don't go. Because if you have, you know, we have some medicines that have 500 patients, in the world. These are, these are very hard medicines to develop they're hard medicines, to sustain in the marketplace.
We have to have very close relationship with our patients. So we're a very specialized type of a pharmaceutical company, and we're very proud of what we do.
Jackie: Amazing. And Irina tell us a little more about your role specifically and what you do, if you would.
Irina: So I lead Human Resources at Horizon and I'm also the Chief Diversity Officer. You know, I joined Horizon in 2017 and when I joined, we were about 700 employees. You know, very US-based in terms of our commercial execution, we did not have an R and D organization. And the company was shifting from, from being a commercial driven company, into being much more of a research and development company.
So how do we acquire and develop medicines that can provide solutions to these medicines. So at the time I joined, we had just acquired a new potential medicine. At that time, it had to go through a trial to see if it worked and we didn't even have an R and D organization. So the last five years, Jackie, have been a tremen... You know, tremendous growth for these organizations.
So we're now almost 1800 employees, you know, we're starting to. We're starting to expand internationally. We're building our manufacturing facility. So if I think about what happened to these company in five years, it has experienced unprecedented growth. And that allows us to have a much broader reach in, also in the communities, in where we, we operate. You know, back to my role.
You know, my role has been to put the foundational elements in place. When I got here five years ago, we knew how to hire. We knew how to pay employees. When you, how to fire those that were not performing at the right levels, but we really had to put a lot of programs in place. And how do we engage employees in the workplace?
How do we develop people in their roles? How do we drive a really purposeful inclusion and diversity strategy? That was all new for us. We were working intuitively, we were much more on startup mode. And over the last five years, it really has been putting a whole system, talent strategy in place that would allow us to sustain and continue to grow and make talent one of the foundational elements to deliver on, on our mission. So that's what the job is.
Jackie: That's amazing. And Irina, you've mentioned that you've been in your role since 2017. How has the workplace landscape changed in the last few years with COVID, the Great Resignation, a spotlight on racial injustice from a human resources perspective? How have you had to shift during that five years in your role?
Irina: I love that question, Jackie. I look back and I'm like, wow, so much has happened. Right? And look, we have the luxury of being in a growth mode. You know, we have a medicine that got approved in 2020, right before the pandemic, like January, 2020, we have one of our medicines. Approved to be in the marketplace.
So we were coming from getting ready for the launch of the new medicine, you know, and, and, and hiring a lot of people and, and moving things forward in, in a very successful environment. And then the pandemic hit. So, you know, it was, it was just an interesting dynamic from a workplace perspective. And again, we were well positioned, you know, the pandemic did not, did not quite
you know, of course it did effect, you know, doctors were back into doing some of the basics, you know, I don't think they, they were able to hear some of our messages with the same amplification that it would have been if the pandemic was not in place, but there was such a demand for our medicine that we were lucky enough that, that we were in growth, growth, growth mode, even during the pandemic. Until, something interesting happens from a business perspective, and I'll come back to, I'll come back to the human resource aspect of this, but something really interesting happens from a business perspective. And it's that the demand for our medicine was much higher than we expected. And this is a medicine that treats IBCs.
So, it's thyroid IBCs and it's an inflammation in your eyes, where your eyes are. And you've seen people probably, you've... we, you know, that have this disease and their eyes are coming out of their eye sockets. And they can't close their eyes. They have double vision. It affects, you know, some people get to blindness, but it affects day to day life in, in very, very profound ways. You can't drive, you can't sleep, et cetera, et cetera. And our medicine cures this disease. And we, we, knowing that we were launching this medicine, we knew that it was, it was a hard medicine to get out there in the marketplace. Right? Eye doctors don't want to deal with the thyroid. Endocrinologists who deal with the thyroids don't want to deal with the eyes. You know, so it was like, how are we going to get these doctors to understand the power of our medicine? And we went directly to consumers and we did, you know, we did a, a, a lot of things to, to, for patients to reach out patients and let them understand that we had a solution for something that was quite debilitating.
So, I'm saying all of these to you, because we were always running behind inventory in our medicine. We, we, we, our medicine was incredibly successful in early 2020. And we were so ahead that in some ways we were always behind inventory and then 2021 hits. And, you know, the government takes over our manufacturing plants to develop the vaccines, which was absolutely the right thing to do, but it truly affected us in profound ways because we didn't have inventory to continue to serve our patients.
So. I know this is going in a different direction, but as you asked me about how the last five years have been, they have been very interesting. And from a talent perspective, you know, we had all these salesforce and all these patient access employees that were ready and, to help patients, and we didn't have medicine.
So. That was, that was just a very interesting perspective, but I'm, I'm going into so many other places then sort of how it affected sort of the human resource
Jackie: And Irina, I love to understand that because that's not something that we on the outside of pharmaceuticals think about. But, you know, when you're stopping your production of those life saving medicines to then, you know, have to stop for vaccines for COVID. That, that affects people. And that's not something that we would think about unless we're in pharmaceutical.
So I appreciate your sharing that.
Irina: You know, it's an, it's an interesting story and I'm sure it's going to be a case study sometime, you know, that people are going to study in management. From a workforce perspective, we had to shift right?
To working from home and we put a lot of work into, how do we focus on our manager population and teach them how to be engaging leaders, how to be, how to continue to be inclusive leaders while working from home?
We all know the summer of 2020 was a very challenging one and a lot of issues that we were not used to dealing in the workplace. And I think this is one of the good side effects of, of what happened that summer, is that we started to talk about race and talk about things that corporate America felt like, you know, were not topics that we needed to talk about.
And suddenly it was like, oh yes, we do. Yes, we do. And we have to have difficult conversations and we have to understand how this affects our colleagues. It's okay to sit in a room and say, how do we best... How are we the best allies that we can be for our black colleagues?
Jackie: Uh huh.
Irina: How are we way more inclusive leaders than we have been?
So we shifted a lot of our strategies at that time and, and the things that for some years we had wanted to do, and there was maybe not a groundswell to do it. So, I would say that was one of the good, good, you know, unfortunately if something good came out of 2020 is that we, and corporate America in general, put a spotlight on something that we should have spotlighted way before.
Jackie: That's right.
Irina: And leaders who, over the years sort of talked about inclusion and diversity, because it was sort of the right words to say, suddenly realized that there were actions that they needed to take. And that it was just, you know, that it was way further than where they had been.
And those who had the courage to say, you know, "We need to talk about race and, you know, it's not enough not to be racist. You have to be anti-racist, you have to call it in the workplace. You have to be a special ally." That summer mobilized a lot of people. And a lot of people I think, look themselves in the mirror and said, give me the tools, help me.
I don't know how to do it.
Jackie: That's right.
Irina: And we have to, and we had to drive some of those initiatives forward. And that, that was, you know, it was new, challenging and special, I think. And it will remain with us for, for a long time.
Jackie: Absolutely. And Irina what are some of the biggest challenges that you found with employees around morale and retention?
Irina: So it's interesting, right, because we're, we're still, you know, we're still on a high ride and I think that's different. I mean, I talk to a lot of other human resource professionals. I talk to a lot of industry leaders and a lot of people are dealing with a lot of morale issues. I think because we've been, we've been on a growth mode, we were able to ride these wave in somewhat, you know, better than, than in other places.
You know what we're experiencing. Jackie is what many other competency, companies are experiencing. You know, for years, I've been an advocate of flexibility in the workplace and I've been trying to get my leaders. This is pre pandemic,
Irina: to offer our employees more flexibility, to understand how to, you know, provide good balance in their workdays and, and, you know, and how to stay away from sort of the nine to five schedule where you had to be somewhere to demonstrate that you were doing the work.
And for years I've been, I've been on that fight because I think that's a very, you know, flexibility is such an important component of, of, of, of how we work. But then the pandemic hit us and then we all went home. And as we were trying to bring people back to the workplace, now we're fighting a different fight, which is how do we bring people back to the office? Right? I don't call it back to work. I hate that terminology. We've been working all along, right?
What we're doing is trying to bring back people to the office because it's in the office or, the office or whatever you can, you know, whatever you call it. But it's when we are together, a lot of magic happens.
And this has been very, very hard for people because now, you know, some have moved far away. Some have learned that, you know, without that commute, they can incorporate things in their workday that they weren't able to do before. Like picking up my kid from school or exercising at a particular day, or, you know, whatever, whatever it is, or, you know, eating healthier because I can eat at home and so forth. So it's been hard to bring back people to the workplace and we want people in the workplace. This does not negate any of the flexibility that we would always provide, but we want, we think the best development happens when you are side by side, coaching someone.
We think some of our junior people. Really need that kind of development. If you're a leader, if you're managing more junior staff, coming back to the office is quite essential to, to work together, to interact, to have conversations that do not happen via Zoom. You know, I go home in the evening and maybe, you know, I go home in the evening and we often talk, I still have one girl at home.
We often talk about what was the best part about your day. And usually the best part about my day, something that happened spontaneously because I was here interacting with other people.
Irina: And I bumped into someone in a hallway and we had a great idea that I wanted to develop. Or, you know, I, I went on a walk with my boss and, you know, we didn't go through the agenda items, but actually talked about way other things, you know, or stay after the, stayed after five even, and, and just had a conversation about sort of our families and life. And that was really, you know, really fulfilling and those things don't happen via Zoom. So right now the biggest challenge is how do we bring people back in the office, interacting, where the best mentoring developing and magic happens.
Jackie: Irina, I think you're so right about that because, we forget how many great interactions have been in the hallways or in the break room or in between meetings, right? And those are things that we don't experience when we're going from one Zoom meeting to another Zoom meeting, and then, you know, you're alone in between. Right? And you don't have the opportunities for mentorship in the way that you are when you have at least some time in the office. So I totally agree with that.
Irina: And I'm hoping somehow, you know, we're going to go through a pendulum. Right? We, we, I think we did not have I, if I think about the workplace, right? And I'm not just talking about Horizon. But the workplace in general did not have enough flexibility. Before the pandemic. And managers sort of were suspicious of people who work from home or... And then we all realized, like, this is possible. And somehow we have to find a middle ground where we add a lot of flexibility to our workplace, but also create real, real moments in the office, interacting together, working together, where diverse teams come into place, where you celebrate some of that, without kind of Zoom call. Which makes it all very much harder.
Jackie: Absolutely. Irina, what advice would you give to other human resources leaders about how to engage and retain their employees in this market?
Irina: I think the biggest advice: pay has to be right. And I want to talk a little bit more about pay, but, you know, as I think about people staying with an employer, sometimes a lot of my leaders focus on, on compensation and, and benefits. And compensation for the most part, because that's something tangible that they can, that they can affect.
Irina: But all of the research and all of my experience has shown me, that compensation is a pretty short term fix, right? You can on more pay and, and for a little while they, they, they are satisfied with that. But it takes, it takes only a little while... People want to come to work and feel that they can bring their whole selves to work so that they are, it's safe environment emotionally and physically. They want to feel challenged in their job.
They want to feel developed in their job. And they want to feel that they work for a company, I think you have a huge advantage, if you have a mission and a vision that you're driving towards. All of those components are, are, are... Leadership has a huge impact on all of those components. And sometimes when, when, leaders look at HR and go like, "Fix my problem, pay more, or give me a retention program because people are leaving."
I step back and I'm like, the solution is usually within leadership. And if you're, if you're engaging with your employees, if you're challenging them at work, if they feel they're doing meaningful contributions, if they have a path to development, if their diversity's celebrated, it would be a much more sustainable and long-term solution than fixing...
I mean, pay has to be right. If you're paying people right. That's kind of in the hierarchical of needs. That has to be right. But once that right, putting more in that, in that bucket is really not taking not, not doing the leadership work that has to be done.
Jackie: Irina, that's so right. And you know, there have been studies that show, I think it was Harvard Business Review that did a study around that specifically. And what they found was that, employees really want to feel a sense of belonging and purpose. More than any other, other thing that you can do. Including their, their salary.
And so it's so important that you create those environments and cultures of inclusion and belonging. That's so important. I think you hit that right on the head.
Irina: Fortune just published their best places to work list that lists a hundred companies where, you know, we, we were named on the list and I'm so proud that we were. But as you read, as you read the research behind, you know, what makes these work places great, it's never paying more money. I mean, like that's like, it's like silly. You have to be competitive. You have to pay your employees, right?
It's giving them a sense of purpose. It's giving them a sense of belonging. It's feeling like you're contributing to an organization. All of, you know, developing in your careers. All of those things go way further than any other component.
Jackie: Absolutely. Irina, what do you think is the most important job or responsibility of a Chief Diversity Officer?
Irina: Oh, it's driving inclusion capabilities in the workplace. I'm a believer that you lead with inclusion. And the reason I say you lead with inclusion is: very few people would say, we don't want diversity in the workplace. Very few people would say that. I don't think anyone would, you know, in, in today's environment, some might think that, but I think even very few people would think that. But people want diversity, but they don't know how to manage diversity. And what I mean by that, Jackie, is a lot of corporations go out of their way to go and recruit diverse talent. And then when they bring them into the organization, they want them to assimilate and behave and leave their diversity out the door and behave in a homogeneous kinds of ways. Right?
There's the right way to do things in this company. And therefore, you know, leave your diversity behind and sort of bring some other self to work. And I think when a Chief Diversity Officer needs to is lead with inclusion. And teach leaders that the best thing that they can do is really bring that diversity in. So I always define diversity as sort of having the right mix. But inclusion is making that mix work.
And making that mix work is not making everyone behave one way, but actually celebrating our differences. This is a tough concept for a lot of, of leaders. You know, a lot of leaders say, oh, I have a diverse team. And you know, I'm color blinded. I mean, we still hear those things and I'm like, you don't want to be color blinded. Bring it in, bring all those colors, celebrate the rainbow that we are.
We want to, we want to see... We want to look at the differences. You know, diverse teams are known for being way more creative. They are known for being more effective, if we're celebrating diversity. Otherwise, it's a very small part that I bring to my job. And if I can bring my whole self to my job, I'm going to, I'm going to bring the benefits of diversity into the workplace.
So, I went about that and maybe made it too wordy, but I think we have to teach leaders to be inclusive leaders. They know the rap on bringing diverse talent. They know that and they want to do it. They want to do a good job. But then diversity is in the company and they don't know what to do with it. And they don't take full advantage of celebrating difference.
Jackie: You know, I think what happens is organizations sometimes focus on recruiting diverse talent before they've established a culture of inclusion. And you have to do that first so, as you bring that talent in, they feel like they belong there. And they want to stay, right? It doesn't help you to recruit diverse talent that doesn't have, you know, that environment where they can thrive and then they're back out again.
So, I think that's exactly right, Irina.
Irina: I'm 100% with you. 100%.
Jackie: Irina, how is Horizon leading in work-life balance? And congratulations on your Fortune award. Can you share some of your best practices at Horizon?
Irina: You know, work-life balance is such a, it's such a hard concept. And I know we throw it around a lot. And, we've even ask in our surveys, you know, if, if people are achieving work-life balance. What I think about the concept, Jackie, and I'm, I'm, I'm going to answer your question is it's so different individual by individual.
So what it means to me, it might be very different than what it means to you. And in today's digital world, you know, what is work-life balance varies for a lot of people. And so, what we're trying is for leaders to understand the employee, their needs, and how to create, how to create an environment and a workplace that works for the individual.
And this is hard because once you create individual deals, others would say like, "Why can't I have what they have?". But what I would say is that the focus on, on work-life balance has to be on understanding the individual and what their need is and how to work to that individual need. You know, for me, that's at the core of real work-life balance.
You know, I grew up in the consulting world. There was a lot of traveling in the consulting world. I had two daughters. And you know, how, how to work that work-life balance for me was different than for other individuals. I had a very supportive husband at the time and the dad of my kids. But I would show up in the playground sometimes when people would go like, oh, you're so lucky that your spouse, you know, stays home with the kids and you're able to travel.
And I'm like, whoever would say that to a man? You're so lucky your wife allows you to travel. Like what? Like we only say that to women. Even in this day and age, like that continues to be a stigma of some sort. So in any case, work-life balance is very different individual by individual. And it's like trying to understand what the individual needs and on what you can do.
Jackie: Yeah, and I think that's exactly right. And you know, the thing that you said that I just want to reiterate is that it's an individual thing, right? A company, can't say, okay, this is the, you know, the magic bullet or the blueprint to create work-life balance or, or a work-life integration for every employee, because that means something different to every employee.
So you really have to dial in, and that's where it's so important to understand your employee base and talk to your employees and find out what matters to them.
Irina: You know, one of the things that pandemic taught a lot of leaders is that they could get personal with their employees. And again, this is something that corporate America didn't do very well before. And, and I always encourage my leaders over the years to be more vulnerable, to tell their story, to share what their struggles are, you know, what are they dealing with, you know, at some personal level, without, you know, without going, but to show, show vulnerability.
And I think the pandemic opened up a lot of conversations about that and, and our best leaders were the ones who were able to say, "Help me understand what are you dealing with? How can I help you? How can we create a schedule that works even that the kids are schooling from home? How can we help you? You know, be more flexible given that you now moved away and live, you know, maybe two hours away from the office?".
So all of those conversations, and way more intimate conversations in some instances, are important ones. And I think we create, we created a much more inclusive workplace when we're able to understand the individuality of the, of the person on the other side. And this, this continues to be, you know, there's, there's a fine line there that managers are always scared to walk. And driving inclusive leadership requires that you also give something in order to be able to ask the question and, and get in return, an authentic and deeper answer than "I'm doing well", you know? "Yeah. I'm doing well." Well, Hmm. I might not be doing that well, but I'm only going to share if you share with me.
Jackie: Absolutely. And I love that you talked about inclusive leadership and, and the fact that vulnerability is such an important component of that. Because in order to create connections with people, you have to have that level of vulnerability and authenticity for people to be able to share freely with you. And that's, that's where the magic is, right? In those, those individual connections.
That's such great advice. Irina, you're also a strong advocate for women in the workplace. Can you share a little bit about your own story? And you talked about that just for a second, but talk about your story and tell us what advocacy for women means to you.
Irina: I want women to succeed in the workplace. I have a little bit of a bias so that you know. You know, I, I, I look at the stats and I see so many women, I think it's like 53 or 54% of, of, of women graduate from college. And then you look at the workplace and, you know, like 25% of, of executive teams have women. And there's such a disconnect there.
So, how can we make the workplace a workplace that allows women to flourish? While at the same time, you know, a lot of, we lose a lot of women during the time when they have kids and build a family and so forth. So, how do we make the workplace much more equitable for our women who also have to, you know, in society, do a lot of other things that are going to take years to change?
So, you know, workplace, workplace flexibility has been a huge mantra of mine. Women are capable. Women can do the work. If we just provide them with more flexibility at certain points in their lives, I think we can create a much more equitable place. And the second one that I'm going to bring with a force is pay equity.
We are still a society that pays women 83 cents on the dollar that it pays men. So staying in the workplace is not a very good deal when you're struggling to have someone get kids to school or deal, or, or help with a sick grandparent or even move to a new city to do a job at the more professional levels.
It's usually the woman who sacrifices and leaves careers behind. And part of it is societal. And part of it is real. Women are making less money than men in 2022 for the same jobs. And we have to stop that. I just cannot believe that that's happening. I've been a huge advocate of pay equity. Companies have to do the work. They have to look at their pay practices. They can't assume they're paying women and men in similar jobs, the same amount of money. They have to look at the data and they have to correct these inequalities. This is discrimination at its best and it's happening today, in 2022, in corporate America. Everywhere.
Irina: I'm done. I get mad with that.
Jackie: No, I love it. I, it's so important that we talk about it. And, and the thing is Irina, you know, when you think about 83 cents on the dollar, that doesn't seem like a lot when you think about it in that small context. But if, if I think about black women, right, who are paid even less.
Irina: I was going to go there. I saw you going there.
Jackie: What that equates to is if I do the same job as a white man, same qualifications, same job, over the course of my career, I'm paid about a million dollars less.
And if you think about the wealth gap, there it is. Right? And so that's
Jackie: That's why that is so important.
Irina: And Jackie, I liked that you brought black women. And if you take a Latino woman, it's even worse.
Jackie: That's right
Irina: 50 something cents on the dollar.
Unacceptable. For the same job.
Irina: For the same job.
Jackie: That's right. So we all, you know, need to call this forward and keep talking about it, Irina. We all need to be making sure that that people are aware of this and are doing something to rectify it. And it's, you know, it's so important that we, we advocate for other women in the workplace.
And it's important that, as men, allies, right, they're advocating for that pay equity as well. It's so important.
Irina: And, and, and just to add to that, you know, I think if we put a hundred CEOs in the room and we say this is happening in your company, they would say it's an acceptable. I really do. I really do. And maybe I'm an optimist at, which I am, but I really think they would say this is unacceptable. They have daughters. They have, you know, they, they value the contributions of women in their, in their, in their
Jackie: In their lives, right?
Irina: And, but it's like, do the work. Go look at the data and do the work. Because, because when you do the work, you actually uncover a lot of inequalities.
Jackie: That's exactly right. Absolutely. Irina, tell us what allyship means to you. We've talked about that a little bit in a few different ways. Can you tell us what allyship means?
Irina: Allyship means that you are stepping in with action to support another group. Not just that you say that you support another group, but that you actually do something when you see something. And I often say, you know, you can't call yourself an ally. You know, I have a lot of people who said, I'm an ally. Well, who calls you an ally? You can't, like, self declare to be an ally. I think someone else has to say, in that instance, when that happened, or through those programs that you are putting in place and promoting, or through the work that you're doing in this space, you are an ally to these communities. And I want my leaders to not just say they're allies, but to be called allies by groups where they stepped in and they did something to correct an inequality.
Jackie: Allyship is about action. I love that. That's exactly right. Irina, what's the best advice anyone has ever given you?
Irina: One advice, earlier in my career and, and, and pretty early in my career, I was given a leadership opportunity, unexpectedly. And I was terrified about it. And I think the best, best advice that I was given at the time is, I'm giving you this because I believe you can do it and you need to believe in yourself.
Irina: And I think this is an important one, as a simple as that sounds, because I think a lot of women hesitate about their capabilities.
I haven't done it before. I haven't demonstrated this. Am I going to fail? And having, in this case it was another woman but it could have been a man, but in this case it was a woman saying to me, I wouldn't offer you these job, right? If I didn't think you could do it. You need to lean in and do it. And that was great advice.
And that propelled my career in very, very special ways. I would say that's probably the best.
Jackie: Yeah. That's, that's great advice. And, and then love that the follow-up action with that, right? I'm going to give you this, this job because you need to believe in yourself. You know, you, you made the point, Irina, that I've researched and, and many studies about women applying for jobs, right? Men often feel that they're, if they're about 60% qualified for that role, they're going to apply for it.
Women need to feel over 90% qualified. So if they start seeing things on those job descriptions, and just as you said, like, I've never done that before, or I'm not sure if I can do this piece. Whereas men are like, yeah, this, this is in my wheelhouse. Right? And they, they ahead for it.
Irina: Totally. They go for it. I mean, they, they are able to talk about how to transfer capabilities in a way that for some reason that makes a lot of women, not every women, but a lot of women scared. There's also additional research that I always keep in mind when I'm in discussions about sort of promoting someone or, or, or giving someone a special opportunity.
There's quite a bit of research that shows that we put women in positions, I mean, this is like when companies are deciding on an assignment, when we decide that someone can do something, if it's a man, we are able to assess potential quite a bit. They have the potential to do this. And therefore I'm going to bet on them. For women, it's like, they have to demonstrate that they've done it. It's not just women going for jobs and their own leaning into, like, I can do it. People who are assessing who should be the candidate to take on this bigger role. For women we talk about the language we use usually, and it's women and men. We talk about language about they haven't done this.
They haven't proved this. They haven't, you know. If the two candidates have done it, it's fine. But if the two candidates have potential and they haven't done it, we'll probably go with a male candidate. And we have to be very conscious about those unconscious biases. Because if we talk about them before the meeting starts, and we remind ourselves that this is sort of a mechanism that that tends to be at play, then we can at least call it out in the meeting.
Are we doing that? Wait, wait, wait. Are we doing that? I believe best candidate has to go on the job, but let's, let's assess them on the same criteria. And this is what we sometimes don't do.
Jackie: Irina, you're so right about that. You know, so often, men are given credibility at the door where women have to, you know, show and prove. And you're so right. And understanding the bias that exists within all of us and all of our systems. And just being able to call that out and learn to mitigate that while you're doing those interviews, you know, performance reviews. It's, you know, pervasive in so many of our systems, but it's so important to just call that out and understand that it's there so that you can work through it. So I think that's great advice. Great advice. Irina, as we close up, what is the message that you want to leave our listeners with today?
Irina: You know, corporate America is such a powerful force in the economy, in the world, and we still have a lot of work to do.
Irina: And I think as an HR professional, maybe as a Latino woman, as the mother of two daughters, I want the workplace to be a workplace that really welcomes and celebrates diversity in a way that I think we have ways to go.
And it's starting from pay equity to inclusive leadership, to flexibility. All components that I think we're all working through, but there is a lot of work to do. So, I'm just hoping we have a community of people who are pushing forward some of these issues.
Jackie: Absolutely. What a great way to wrap up. Irina, thank you so much for taking some time with me today. I've really enjoyed our conversation and you've shared a lot of great things for us to think about. So thank you so much.
Irina: Jackie, great talking to you. I would stay with you all day. Unfortunately, I have other calls.
Jackie: Thank you, Irina.
Irina: Thank you so much.
Jackie: Of course.
Horizon Therapeutics specializes in solving problems in rare diseases, and the biopharmaceutical company develops medications that only 500 patients worldwide require. As the Executive Vice President, Chief Human Resources and Chief Diversity Officer, Irina Konstantinovsky knows that a commitment to DEI is essential to building a company where inclusion is at the heart of its mission. In this week’s episode, hear why it’s important to lead with your coworkers’ humanity in mind.
Listen to this episode on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.