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Global Inclusion & Diversity

6 Questions on Disability Inclusion for Tinamarie Duff, DAWN Global Lead

December 1, 2022
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Careers Home  /  Career Stories  /  6 Questions on Disability Inclusion for Tinamarie Duff, DAWN Global Lead

With over 2,400 members in 25 chapters across 19 countries, the Disability Advancement Workplace Network (DAWN) exemplifies Bristol Myers Squibb’s commitment to inclusion and dedication to create transformative opportunities for diverse, high-achieving teams.

Over the past few years, this People Business Resource Group (PBRG) — one of eight at BMS — has been undergoing its own transformation under the guidance of Global Lead Tinamarie Duff. We sat down with Tinamarie to talk about DAWN’s accomplishments in fostering an inclusive work environment, and hear her share of what’s on the horizon for this important group.

Tinamarie Duff, Global Lead, Disability Advancement Workplace Network (DAWN)
Tinamarie Duff, Global Lead, Disability Advancement Workplace Network (DAWN)

1. What in your view is the primary aim of DAWN?

A lot of the focus is what I call building the house. DAWN’s purpose is to foster an inclusive environment where employees with disabilities and those in caregiver roles are valued and respected equally with others, thereby maximizing individual and company performance. To insure we’re fostering an inclusive environment, we've had to create the infrastructure to support the environment. Some of the infrastructure is physical, like the implementation of universal design in our buildings. Some of the infrastructure is accessibility through technology, whether it's captioning or the use of other assistive technology devices. Additionally, some is through resources that support a sense of belonging as a person with a disability or a caregiver. This includes groups like the Cancer Support Network.

We’re shifting now to mindset and behavior change. We've created awareness and talent attraction tools, reduced stigma, built the infrastructure and introduced several manager and employee tools. There is a willingness to hire and support talent with disabilities and caregivers, so we’re in a better place to appropriately remove barriers that traditionally have impeded the progress of people with disabilities or have kept them in positions of underemployment or non-employment.

2. How has DAWN grown as a PBRG and how does it differentiate BMS from other employers?

I've been active with DAWN for five years with the first three years as part of the leadership team in addition to my role in US Commercial. At the time I joined, DAWN had about 250 members. Now, this is a full-time role for me, and we have ten times the membership.

This means DAWN gets a seat at the table, has equal partnership with the other PBRGs and with equal access to executive sponsors on the Leadership Team. It's a cultural mindset that everybody's valuable — the fact that we actually define disability as a component of diversity demonstrates our commitment to lead with our Value of Inclusion.

We are literally walking the walk with positive impacts for employees and the business. We've helped to implement universal design features and IT accessibility. We've advocated for changes that led to various enhancements to company policies and processes. In partnership with our Total Rewards team, DAWN has helped launch the Mental Health Ally program. The Cancer Support Network is a great example of a program led by our volunteers that provides insights to help BMS support patients. We have a very robust Everybody Counts Self-ID campaign that has positioned BMS as a leader in disability inclusion across multiple sectors.

3. What can you tell us about your own involvement and day-to-day responsibilities?

You don't often see fulltime disability inclusion roles in businesses. I sit as a subject matter expert and advisor for about 70% of the time, and for 30% I am focused on operational execution. On a day-to-day level, I’m strategizing and helping to prioritize the ways BMS can increase and improve support for employees with disabilities and for those who are caregivers so that everyone can deliver on the company mission and have the most positive impact on our colleagues and the patients and communities we serve.

4. What sort of positive impact does DAWN have on talent acquisition?

Our impact has been evaluating our recruitment practices from the perspective of talent with different types of disabilities. Is the application process inclusive and built so that a candidate with a disability can successfully apply for the role? That evaluation included looking at everything from language used in job descriptions, to the accessibility of the application platforms. We also have spent a lot of effort to ensure that we are recruiting and sourcing from areas that have connections with the disability community seeking employment to build a workforce that truly reflects the diverse cultures, backgrounds and experiences of our global patients and communities.

5. What do you find most inspiring about what DAWN’s members have achieved?

The DAWN leadership team thinks about our roles as gardeners and artists. We have to plant seeds and paint pictures of the possibilities. From there, we help support insights, deliver business rationales and inspire the various business functions to go on a journey with us. As part of that journey, we will offer solutions and expertise, perhaps do some of the work to incubate an idea, pilot it, and metric for success with the goal that business units begin to embed the efforts into their work, socializing and scaling as needed.

People ask me, “Why do you do this? What motivates you to be a disability advocate?” Disability has been a part of my life that has impacted my entire family, I don't understand why anybody wouldn't do it. There is an untapped population: 70% of people with disabilities who are employable are unemployed and looking. What I do is very logical to me. It's business smart and that's why I track for success and outcomes. This has moved far beyond something that just “feels good.”

6. One more thing: How do you manage to get it all done?

The team is amazing, and most of our best ideas have come from our employees. It wouldn’t happen without our volunteer leaders. There are hundreds of man hours and people behind DAWN who are making it happen. But what keeps me going is that I love the work and am always learning and developing. I might not be able to say this every day, but I’m positive I could say it multiple times a week: “We've got another success story to share.”

This is where transformations happen

At BMS, the mission of transforming patients’ lives through science needs an inclusive, diverse and collaborative team. If the environment and values that Tinamarie and all of BMS live day in day out resonate with you, explore career opportunities in your area of interest today: careers.bms.com.