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Lilly vows to continue diversifying workforce

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — In June 2020, Eli Lilly and Co. launched what it called Racial Justice Commitment, pledging $25 million and 25,000 volunteer hours over five years.

During an event with corporate and community stakeholders at the Lilly Corporate Center, company leaders said Thursday they have achieved both goals. The Indianapolis-headquartered pharmaceutical giant also launched an apprenticeship program tailored to people without four-year college degrees.

Terry Morris, vice president of Lilly’s Racial Justice Commitment, said, “Our supplier diversity goal was to double our spend with Black business enterprises by this year, by 2022. We did more than double our spend. We went from $143 million to $358 million over that time horizon.”

The company is focusing on five key areas: people development, jobs, health equity, social impact, and diversity partners.

Morris said, “I will say that we have done work in our backyard through DIPIN, Diabetes Impact Project of Indiana. That is in three ZIP codes in Indianapolis.”

Lilly also committed nearly $100 million to minority lead venture capital firms.

But, some say, Lilly could do more to directly impact the community.

TyJuan Garrett, second vice president of the Indianapolis NAACP, said, “Your health may be intact, but if you don’t have a roof over your head and you’re concerned with your living situation, that could be another issue, too.”

Garrett said, in addition to keeping drug prices affordable, Lilly should also educate people on leading healthier lifestyles so they no longer need to depend on medications.

Morris said healthier lifestyles is an issue his team is addressing. “We will be pursuing a health equity initiative that is aimed at solving access and also specifically how do we open up the aperture for those who do not have much access as desired.”

Lilly recently held its first recruitment fair for historically Black colleges and universities to attract prospective scientists to the company.