Focused on a healthy culture: Janine Pajot of Bayer

'If we're going to foster an inclusive culture, we need to know where we are falling down,' says chief people officer

Focused on a healthy culture: Janine Pajot of Bayer

In the high-tech world of science, there is a need to continue to make advances in areas that support the health and nutrition of people around the world. For Janine Pajot, Chief People Office at Bayer, it’s a passion that drives her.

“I started my career in sales and marketing and held a number of roles of progressive accountability in the commercial area. Over the course of that time, I launched several pharmaceutical products within the Canadian landscape, but mostly spent time supporting our sales teams and our people throughout the launch journey.”

"More and more I was drawn to the idea of taking that love for people and bringing it to the HR function. I believed my varied experiences could add value to the organization," she says. 

‘The lighthouse is always the patient’

Pajot made the transition to lead the entire HR function for Bayer several years ago – supporting 1,300 employees across Canada. And when it comes to honing her people leadership skills, she draws from her commercial background and emphasizes the importance of aligning corporate goals to people strategies.

"In the pharmaceutical industry, the lighthouse is always the patient - where will we bring value to that patient? At Bayer, we tie this back to the employee. The mantra is ‘What is going to bring the value to the employee experience?’"

It’s something that Pajot keeps close to her heart – this commitment to garnering a near perfect employee experience. And, in the current economic climate, it makes sound business sense too.

According to research from Robert Walters, three quarters of employees have left a job just because they disliked the company culture. What’s more, O.C Tanner’s 2024 Global Culture Report found that when employees believe their leaders have the tools to help them manage change, they’re five times more likely to feel a stronger sense of community and ten times more likely to foster a strong sense of trust.

Inside Bayer’s diversity, equity and inclusion journey

For Pajot, this love of culture manifests in Bayer's diversity, equity and inclusion journey. The insights from their in-depth survey, coupled with extensive focus groups, formed the foundation for Bayer's strategic plan in fostering an inclusive culture.

"We launched an organizational survey to understand the demographics of the employees - where are we doing well and where we need to improve," she says.

“Because, if we're going to continue to create and foster an inclusive culture, we need to know where we are falling down. It really has created the foundation on which we built our diversity, equity and inclusion strategies, and ultimately our tactical plans going forward. Without reaching out to our to our employees, we wouldn't be able to get it right.”

Leadership’s role in cultivating culture

Culture is the area Pajot is passionate about. She emphasizes the role of leaders in creating environments built on trust and acceptance, and when it comes to talent development, she leans towards nurturing behaviors over skills.

“Our cultural alignment occurs when our employees and senior leadership are clear on our purpose of health for all and hunger for none and our core values. Not only does our team take pride in what they do, but more importantly, they fully understand how their behaviours and contributions lead to our overall success as a company.”

During her time within the industry, Pajot has faced challenges, particularly those posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, she commends the organization's response, emphasizing the importance of comradery during such times.

"We have three divisions and, prior to the pandemic, they really rarely interacted with each other,” Pajot tells HRD. “But that changed as we were working remotely. Everyone came together and it helped to shape and reinforce who we are. It completely changed our culture. And I say it with such pride, because it's wonderful to see how the company has integrated - to see your culture thrive is powerful.”

“Every single person that is part of Team Bayer models our desired behaviours now more than ever before. We’re one collaborative group all working on a purpose - to keep people healthy and help feed families.”

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