An Interview with Zeba Khan, Ph.D., Celgene Vice President of Corporate Responsibility
Q: Celgene is focused on improving the lives of patients worldwide. How has that focus helped to differentiate the company?
By putting patients first, we have dedicated resources to do all that we can to change the course of human health for the better. This focus drives our bold pursuits in science as well as the creation of transformational medicines. Celgene has backed up this commitment by reinvesting a major percentage of its revenue back into R&D each year, with 45.5 percent of revenue being reinvested in 2017.
Our intense focus on patients motivates the people of Celgene to do their part in delivering the best treatments — whether their role is in the lab, in the clinic, or in our operations. But as we all know, it’s not enough to commit to the science. We also ensure that the patients who can benefit from our discoveries have the opportunity to do so.
We are committed to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, with a particular focus on Goal 3: “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages,” which is directly relevant to our focus on patients.
Q: How are you working to improve access to quality healthcare in the developing world?
Celgene has really made a difference in healthcare accessibility through the AMPATH (Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare) program. It’s a signature program that we’ve been involved in since 2011.
AMPATH is a partnership of Moi University School of Medicine and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret, Kenya, and a consortium of North American academic health centers led by Indiana University. Today, in partnership with the Kenyan Ministry of Health and the U.S. government, AMPATH is addressing the critical needs for primary healthcare, chronic disease care, and specialty care, including cancer.
This year, we launched an exciting new program called Celgene Cancer Care Links™ to jumpstart cancer care in local communities within resource-constrained countries, where patients often face challenges including poverty, food insecurity and infectious diseases. By awarding a number of grants throughout the world where they are needed most, we will support additional initiatives to enhance cancer care.
What are some of the ways Celgene employees are engaged in corporate responsibility?
Our employees don’t stop thinking about patients when they leave the office. Last year, more than 2,000 employees either walked, ran or cycled for charities that help find cures for diseases such as blood cancers, pancreatic cancer, psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. To further help our employees support the communities where they work and live, we are expanding employee matching grants and support for employee volunteerism.
How is Celgene working to attract and retain top talent?
Passion, innovation and courage have been in Celgene’s genes since our founding in 1986. We’ve been fortunate to maintain a unique patient-centric and entrepreneurial culture; our impact on patients and focus on workplace diversity and inclusiveness led to our ranking in the top 10 of Forbes’ World’s Best Employers for 2018, ranking 9th among the 2,000 largest companies worldwide.
Employees build their careers at Celgene because of our patient connection, challenging work and the many opportunities for hands-on professional development, coaching and mentoring.
Our competitive and differentiated employee benefits are another great perk. Recent enhancements for our U.S. employees include flexible work arrangements, increased paid parental leave including a policy for new parents to work part-time (with full-time pay) when transitioning back to work, paid caregiver leave, backup child/elder care, and several maternity support programs, to name a few. Additionally, resource groups for women, employees of color, and LGBTQ+ employees are actively evolving across the organization and help to enhance our focus on important areas of diversity and inclusion.
Celgene’s mission, culture, and the values every employee embodies make this an amazing place to work.
What efforts helped Celgene to reduce its environmental impact last year?
Our environmental priorities are reflected in Celgene’s 2020 Environmental Goals. They focus on reducing our carbon footprint, increasing the purchase of renewable electricity, reducing water withdrawal and reducing waste generation. I’m very pleased to report that we’ve already met two of these goals ahead of schedule.
In the U.S., 73 percent of our facilities use electricity derived from wind power. As a result of this, we were invited to join the Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership. Worldwide, approximately 50 percent of all our energy comes from renewable sources, and we’re taking steps to increase that percentage.
We also found numerous ways to cut our energy use. We made major upgrades to our Phoenix facility’s chillers, which resulted in significant reductions in water and electricity usage. And to reduce our business travel impact, we invested in Cisco TelePresence technology enabling more meetings to happen virtually.
Additionally, we increased Celgene’s portfolio to four LEED®-certified buildings* in the United States after renovations were completed for our new conference & office building at the Summit East campus in New Jersey.
As for reducing waste, we achieved a diversion rate of 45 percent, our highest to date, and decreased our overall trash generation by 19 percent compared to 2015.
What’s next for corporate responsibility at Celgene?
There is always room to improve across our focus areas, and we have many exciting initiatives in the works. One example is becoming a member during 2018 of the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Initiative (PSCI), a group of major biopharmaceutical companies that sets expectations regarding labor, health and safety, environment, ethics and management systems. We have adopted the initiative’s principles as our Code of Conduct for Suppliers.
Looking ahead, we are also working on setting new environmental targets beyond 2020, to challenge ourselves to continue pushing to further reduce our environmental impact.