At the beginning of my career, I used to look around and realize that I was the only woman in the room.
So today’s news that, for the fifth year, Johnson & Johnson has garnered a top 10 spot on the National Association for Female Executives (NAFE) “Top 60 Companies for Executive Women” list, has a special significance for me.
Not only am I humbled to be part of a company that prides itself on supporting and promoting a diverse workforce, but I’m also grateful for the many women and men who’ve created a culture that makes this recognition possible.
The reality is that Johnson & Johnson has a strong history of diversification in the workplace dating back to 1886. At that time, the United States was heavily resistant to accepting women in the workplace. It was also the year that Johnson & Johnson was founded by a group of 14 employees—eight of whom were women.
This unprecedented beginning set the foundation for our progressive culture, where employees are encouraged to challenge the status quo and take risks.
Today, we also know something those founders didn’t: A diverse workforce actually makes for a healthier, more successful business.
The fact is that women now make at least 80% of all healthcare decisions for their families, so it only makes sense that they have a prominent place at the table to help make the business decisions that can positively impact our consumers, patients and customers. And I’m thrilled to report that women now make up 34% of our corporate executive base, running businesses and creating innovative solutions each and every day.
In the last 20 years, our women’s resource group at Johnson & Johnson has grown to over 5,000 employees globally, and we’re collaborating with organizations, such as Fortune and Vital Voices, to expand our reach and provide more women with the resources they need to meet their full potential.
This year, we also rolled out a program that’s near and dear to me: STEM2D, which is designed to support and encourage both young girls and college-aged women to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, math, manufacturing and design. These women are our future, so we need to bolster them.
I know we still have a ways to go, but I can sleep soundly at night knowing that we employ some of the most talented women in the world who are working to accelerate women’s leadership not only in our organization, but also around the world.
So thank you NAFE for recognizing these women—and thank you to all the employees who help make this company worth recognizing.
Sandi Peterson is Group Worldwide Chairman for Johnson & Johnson. Her portfolio includes the company’s global operating infrastructure, multiple consumer-facing businesses, and key enterprise initiatives designed to spur innovation and accelerate growth. She is at the forefront of Johnson & Johnson’s efforts to transform healthcare using technology and design-thinking to leverage its unique assets in innovative ways to create breakthrough solutions. Sandi has been named to Fortune magazine’s list of The Most Powerful Women three times, most recently being the 2015 list.