Celebrating Black History Month at Teva UK

Black History Month is an annual commemoration of the history, achievements, and contributions of black communities in the UK. We spoke to Teva colleagues across the UK to discover their thoughts about celebrating culture and who they are ‘proud to be’ during Black History Month 2021.

Sylvia Oba

Business Compliance and Ethics

I am proud to be everything that I am. My heritage, education, aspirations, networks, personal and professional background make me who I am and I make no excuses.

Stanley Ogunwa

Microbiologist

I’m proud to be black African/British and I am proud to work for a company like Teva that supports its BAME employees.

Rina Joshi

Specialty Regulatory Affairs

I am proud to be ‘me’. I am a unique person and have lots of great things to offer in all aspects of my life.

Reg Latouche

Regulatory Information Management

I am proud to be a voice in promoting the history of my people and to be part of movement in re-addressing the dialogue that for too long has been left silent or told from another perspective.

Abdulmajeed Ifedapo Raji

Microbiology

I’m proud of my heritage and I’m proud to be me.  I’m proud to be a person who lives and believes in the spirit of “Ubuntu” –the African Philosophy of “I am because of who we all are.” I am black and proud.

Kiran Dhillon

Specialty Regulatory Affairs

I am extremely proud of my cultural heritage and fortunate to have spent my childhood in an amazing country where there was great emphasis laid in the community spirit and acceptance of people from all walks of life regardless of their culture, race, religious background or status in society.

I’m Sylvia Oba, I was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya.

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Sylvia-Oba_circle.png I’m Sylvia Oba, I’m married and have a twelve year old daughter that has recently started high school. I was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya. I also did a short stint in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where my dad worked and we had the opportunity to attend an international school. It’s at the international school that I first socialised with people from different nationalities, cultural and religious backgrounds.

It’s at this very early age that I appreciated ‘mankind’s’ differences and our common similarities. This perspective has been with ever since me and helped shape my world view. My great love of diversity, equality and inclusion led to me to complete a Masters in Law in International Human Rights before D&I became vogue.

I work in Business Compliance and Ethics and thoroughly enjoy my work. Imagine working in a role that makes a difference in the global fight against corruption to create a fair market environment for all players! The approvals and controls that we have may sound mundane but in the grand scheme of things, it makes a difference. Using Tesco’s slogan, ‘every little helps’.

Why is it important to celebrate Black History Month?

Black History Month is a time set aside to reflect the achievements from the Black Community and also illuminate the issues facing this segment of society.

It is important to reflect on these issues as it goes a long way in validating people that have been downtrodden in history. And it’s not just in history, there are still a lot of wrongs that persist today and will continue if we don’t consciously as a society address them head on.

I’ll use the iceberg model for illustration purposes, there are things that we see and make changes to address equality, for instance addressing representation. We can now see people of colour in industry and other places that were hitherto unattainable. That’s akin to the top of the iceberg, the visible part. Then we have the bottom of the iceberg which is much bigger, deeper and not visible. This is the fabric that permeates every other initiative and to a great extent, frustrates efforts to address the core problems that exist in society.

The systematic racial institutionalism shrouded in policies that we don’t see or take part in discussions and accompanying behaviourism. Is change happening? Yes, albeit slow. Therefore, it is still important to celebrate Black History Month to make advancements perhaps to a point where if we stop, there would be no impact because the change sought would have already happened.

This year’s theme for Black History Month is ‘Proud to Be’. Who are you Proud to Be?

I am proud to be everything that I am. My heritage, education, aspirations, networks, personal and professional background make me who I am and I make no excuses. I am a human being, having a human experience and want the best that there is for every one of us in an environment that respects, accommodates and celebrates diversity in all its forms without prejudice.

Are you proud to work for a company like Teva who encourages everyone to be their true selves, irrespective of their individual differences? 

I’m proud to work at Teva and also grateful that we have a GM that supports the diversity and inclusion agenda. It does make a difference! I have not been inhibited in being myself in any way at Teva, although I also recognise that we could do more in this area to encourage people to bring their true selves to work.

What is Teva doing to support its Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) employees and create a diverse and inclusive workforce?

There is a flurry of exciting initiatives happening within the Diversity and Inclusion group led by the Champions. The Race Group is one of the Champions workstreams and our mission statement is to ‘create a positive environment that facilitates attracting and retaining talent from ethnic minorities.’

There’s quite a lot that underpins this, such as developing professional mentoring and network engagements for current employees to talent acquisition. The initiatives are in collaboration with HR and associated workstreams to develop these channels.

At the moment, the Race Group is welcoming everyone to join in race discussions to understand employees’ concerns, frustrations and also contributions to make Teva a truly diverse and inclusive work environment.  

I’m Stanley Ogunwa. I was born in Nigeria and moved to Belfast when I was 14 years old.

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Stanley_circle.png I’m Stanley Ogunwa. I was born in Nigeria and moved to Belfast when I was 14 years old. Having progressed with my GCSE and A Levels in Northern Ireland, I moved to Liverpool to complete a Biomedical Science degree at Liverpool John Moores University. I acquired a role at Teva Runcorn straight after graduating. I now work as a Microbiology Technician.

 

Why is it important to celebrate Black History Month?

Celebrating Black History Month enables younger generations (from primary school level) and some older generations to learn about black history and to remember the men and women that fought for our human rights.

This year’s theme for Black History Month is ‘Proud to Be’. Who are you Proud to Be?

I’m proud to be black African/British and I am proud to work for a company like Teva that supports its BAME employees.

What is Teva doing to support its Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) employees and create a diverse and inclusive workforce?

Giving me this platform to share my view on Black History Month is enough to let me know that Teva supports its BAME employees. I have not experienced this with my previous employers.

I have recently noticed a lot of BAME employees on site, which is good for diversity and it’s good to see we employ candidates based on their qualifications and not the colour of their skin.

I'm Rina Joshi. I am of Indian origin but I consider myself British, and I am proud to be so.

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rina.Joshi_circlespng.png  My name is Rina Joshi. I am 43 years old and was born in East London in the late 70’s. I am a divorced single parent and live with my 9 year-old daughter. I am of Indian origin but I consider myself British, and I am proud to be. My parents were born and brought up in India and East Africa. They came to this country in the 70’s. 

I am an Associate Director in the Specialty Regulatory Affairs team and have worked at Teva for 13 years. I have a degree in Chemistry with management from Kings College London and have a PhD in Organic Chemistry from Imperial College.

Why is it important to celebrate Black History Month?

I think for me it should not only be one month to celebrate black history, or any other history if I am being truly honest. History is important to celebrate throughout the year regardless of colour and heritage.

As a human race we have many things to celebrate that belong to our history but I guess it will take a while before we get there, hence why it is important to have such months to highlight certain histories which have been neglected in the past.

This year’s theme for Black History Month is ‘Proud to Be’. Who are you Proud to Be?

I am proud to be ‘me’. I am a unique person and have lots of great things to offer in all aspects of my life.

However, I understand myself and I know I am not perfect and never will be, but I am open-minded and like to improve myself in every way I can. I am happy to accept criticism. Overall, I want to be a person my daughter is proud of.

Are you proud to work for a company like Teva who encourages everyone to be their true selves, irrespective of their individual differences?

Yes, I like the fact that Teva is encouraging this and hope that most people feel comfortable in being themselves and I hope people see that I really try to be myself. In fact, the Insights training that Teva offers is great in highlighting what kind of person you are and how sometimes you may change over the years or if you are like me, even after 13 years I have still remained as a sunshine yellow.

What is Teva doing to support its Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) employees and create a diverse and inclusive workforce?

We recently held Inclusion Week and there were many activities that encouraged employees to discuss various important topics, such as race, gender etc. Within my team, we did a food roulette where people brought in a food of their choice from wherever they are from – Covid-19 compliant, of course. We also held quizzes to learn more about each of our backgrounds. This was lots of fun and a great learning experience for me.

The fact that we are all talking about Inclusion and Diversity is great and I hope that it will continue moving forward, as it will only get better. Kim Innes is great role model in pushing this forward from a UK perspective.

I'm Reg Latouche, I am a first generation of British Black Caribbean descendant from the Wind Rush era.

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Reg_LaTouche_circle.png I'm Reg Latouche, I am a first generation of British Black Caribbean descendant from the Wind Rush era.  My folks came to the UK in the 50’s from that gem of an island Grenada.  At a time when racism was a regular occurrence however, there was the call to come to help re-build Britain. 

I was born in East London, though my stay was short as my parents moved back to Grenada when I was about 2 years old.  I grew up on the spice isle Grenada and what a buzz that was. I don’t believe words can truly explain what that was like but if you have read the books, Secret 7 or Famous 5, combined together they give you a little insight to what it was like. Growing up I was always taught to treat others as equals and with respect.

In primary and later high school education I can recall being taught about British history, and as I grew older I understood why, most of the Caribbean islands were British subjects.

From then I was intrigued as to what was my history. I moved back to England shortly after US intervention of Grenada and it was then the realisation of first and second-class citizens became apparent to me.

I work within the Regulatory Information Management (RIM) team in Harlow. Responsibilities are for EDMS and Registration Planning and Tracking systems ensuring that they comply with the various industry regulations. As part of my role I interact with colleagues from various countries, which is truly amazing and supports our One Teva culture.

Why is it important to celebrate Black History Month?

For too long history has been told by the victors and not given the true perspective of our own people globally.  It is of paramount importance that our younger generation is aware of the black involvement with history. 

This year’s theme for Black History Month is ‘Proud to Be’. Who are you Proud to Be?

I am proud to be a voice in promoting the history of my people and to be part of movement in re-addressing the dialogue that for too long has been left silent or told from another perspective. This in itself has been a distorted or a one-sided view.  To co-operate with fellow non-ethnic minority and ethnic minority colleagues to promote diversity and inclusion and raise awareness to racial inequality.

Are you proud to work for a company like Teva who encourages everyone to be their true selves, irrespective of their individual differences? 

I can truly say I have seen a tectonic shift in the way Teva is approaching a profound issue relating to diversity and inclusion.  There are members from all levels of the business who are not from any ethnic minority groups and who are prepared to call out and stand for decency for fellow colleagues and in the wider space.  That encourages me greatly. I am proud to be working for a company that is prepared to take significant strides on such wide-reaching issues.

What is Teva doing to support its Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) employees and create a diverse and inclusive workforce?

Over the years, we have come up with various schemes to enhance the company’s standing but until now, none has had a more significant affect than the Diversity and Inclusion initiative. Allowing each person to flourish, it is undoubtedly going to enrich lives and allow Teva to be a leading light in this sphere. We should strive with all our being to keep removing every hindrance that serves as a barrier to individuals from reaching their true potential.

I'm Abdul. I am Nigerian and came to settle in the UK around 20 years ago.

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Abdul_circles.png I am Abdulmajeed Ifedapo Raji, but everybody here calls me Abdul. I am Nigerian and came to settle in the UK around 20 years ago. I’m a Microbiologist and have worked in different parts of the world (Nigeria, South Africa, Republic of Ireland and United Kingdom). I enjoy what I do and I love travelling, meeting new people and making friends.

I am currently the QA Manager/Site Microbiologist at Teva Runcorn, after joining in April 2020.   Before then I worked at a university (Lecturing/Research) and in a couple of other Pharmaceutical companies.

Why is it important to celebrate Black History Month?

Black History is rich, and for me it’s not just about it being celebrated in one month- it’s part of me. It is a history I am proud to be a part of, and a culture I imbibe especially as I grew up in Africa.

This year’s theme for Black History Month is ‘Proud to Be’. Who are you Proud to Be?

I’m proud of my heritage and I’m proud to be me.  I’m proud to be a person who lives and believes in the spirit of “Ubuntu” –the African Philosophy of “I am because of who we all are.” I am black and proud.

I am very proud to work for Teva. Since I joined Teva Runcorn I’ve been received warmly by everybody and colour or my identity has never been a basis for which I am assessed. Teva Runcorn is inclusive and gives everybody the opportunity to be themselves

What is Teva doing to support its Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) employees and create a diverse and inclusive workforce?

I believe that Teva is very inclusive as it gives everybody that works here a level playing ground. The company allows you to be yourself and you’re assessed on what you can deliver and not on your individual differences.

The recruitment process in Teva is fair and gives equal opportunity to all. Since I joined Teva, I have had the same opportunity to develop my career as any of my other colleagues.

Teva Runcorn is currently promoting the Black History Month and I am proud to be part of it.  

I’m Kiran Dhillon, a fourth generation East African Asian, born and raised in Kenya.

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Kiran.-cirlce.png I’m Kiran Dhillon, a fourth generation East African Asian, born and raised in Kenya. My great grandfather laid the foundation for us in Kenya as he came as a railway worker from the Punjab, India in 1895 and settled in Kenya once the railway was completed. India and Kenya were both British colonies at the time, hence the reason this migration was facilitated.

I was raised in an extended family with three generations under the same roof, including my grandparents, parents, two uncles and families. I grew up on a sugarcane farm not far from Lake Victoria. I moved to the UK for my university education and have lived here since. I am married and a mother to two teenagers.

I am an Associate Director in the EU Specialty Regulatory Affairs Team working on CNS, Oncology and Internal Medicine products. Teva has been an integral part of my journey as a working Mum, I’ve been here for more than 14 years!

Why is it important to celebrate Black History Month?

History in my opinion lays great emphasis on the triumphs of the western world. The BAME community have been marginalised as there appears to be little awareness of the ordeals that this sub-set of the population have endured in the past, and how they as a people, their lands, and their resources, were exploited to build western empires. We need to move away from the biases towards minorities and acknowledge that many find themselves in other parts of the world not out of choice, but because of being forced by the colonial structures. This is a part of history that many do not want to acknowledge but ignorance is no longer an excuse to continue with these prejudices.

There are phenomenal role models in the BAME community, and important life lessons to be learnt from their experiences to fit in the society and be equally recognised.

This year’s theme for Black History Month is ‘Proud to Be’. Who are you Proud to Be?

I am extremely proud of my cultural heritage and fortunate to have spent my childhood in an amazing country where there was great emphasis laid in the community spirit and acceptance of people from all walks of life regardless of their culture, race, religious background or status in society. This experience has paved my transition of living in the UK positively and enabled me to develop good relationships with my work colleagues.

Are you proud to work for a company like Teva who encourages everyone to be their true selves, irrespective of their individual differences?

Teva is committed to Inclusion and Diversity and I’m proud to be part of this.  I joined the I&D team when it was created two years ago and I am optimistic that great things will unfold from the open and honest dialogue that is encouraged. It’s rewarding to see that the UK leadership team are at the forefront of this initiative and paving the way for their EU counterparts.

What is Teva doing to support its Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) employees and create a diverse and inclusive workforce?

The creation of the I&D team in itself is a step in the right direction for Teva to provide a means to support everyone in the organisation.

It was acknowledged that we all have biases, therefore the Anti-bias training for employees was a great starting point. Further to a pulse survey undertaken in 2020, a race panel was created to see how employees from diverse ethnic backgrounds can be supported and various initiatives such as mentoring and coaching have been proposed.

The National Inclusion Week celebrations that were marked in 2020 and 2021, have provided a platform for employees to voice their opinions and share their experiences. There is still a lot for Teva to achieve but these are all small, positive steps in the right direction. We need to keep the momentum going so that there is fair representation of the BAME community across the organisation so that this group of employees are on a level playing field to the rest.

Date of preparation: November 2021
Reference: COB-GB-NP-00088

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