Time for a coffee break? Take a few minutes to get to know Eliza Gonzalez, Sr. Director of Procurement Citizenship* at Johnson & Johnson, including her best advice for women entrepreneurs, what drove her to a career in diversity and inclusion, and more insights.
* Encompasses Supplier Diversity, Supplier Sustainability, Human Rights in the Supplier Base, and Supplier Risk Solutions
What do you see as the coolest or most important trend in your industry?
I get very excited about the increasing expectations from customers, communities, shareholders, and investors for corporations to deliver measurable societal impact in addition to providing products, services, and long-term financial returns. The term “sustainability” has become broader than environmental and climate change. We see corporations’ sustainability reporting encompassing economic inclusion (e.g., supplier diversity), social (e.g., human rights in the supply chain/supplier base), and ethical considerations. Though the topic of sustainability is certainly not a new trend and at Johnson & Johnson, it has been said that Our Credo written in 1943 was our first sustainability report.
What is cool is — beyond being the right thing to do — using our “big for good,” as we like to say at Johnson & Johnson, is also a business critical imperative. If you have 4 minutes to spare, you can learn about our sustainability approach here.
What piece of advice would you give to women entrepreneurs that want to do business with your corporation?
Johnson & Johnson is not one business, we are many, across the pharmaceutical, medical devices, and consumer health segments so “getting in the door” may be overwhelming and even feel insurmountable. However, be confident in the fact that you know your business and core capabilities better than anyone. Prepare to have an open mind, think out of the box, and articulate how you differentiate your company from the pack. From there, ask a lot of questions, do a lot of listening, then identify that sweet spot where your solutions can translate into viable options for our business problems.
What drove you to a career in diversity and inclusion?
My family immigrated here from the Philippines when I was 8 years old. My earliest memory of becoming aware of diversity happened on my first day of 3rd grade in my new school in Rhode Island. The teacher mispronounced my name the entire day, and when my classmates asked me where I “came from” I should have just said Mars because that would have been more familiar to them than “Philippines.” Since that initial discovery of diversity, many more experiences – my own, my family’s, my friends’ – have taught me additional lessons on inclusion – and exclusion. I believe we are all lifelong learners, especially as it relates to D&I. This inspires me to gravitate to career choices where I can contribute to D&I in meaningful ways while continuing to learn. These days, I’m more mindful to stop and reflect on how I will translate these learnings into actions.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?
From my grandfather when I was 6: “Learn all the time, never stop.”
What are you reading or listening to now?
I have become a podcast enthusiast. In 30-45 minutes – usually while walking outside or on a solo drive — I find that it’s an efficient and enjoyable way to learn a new topic, think differently, or catch up on latest events. I would recommend Adam Grant’s “How Science Can Fix Remote Work” on Work Life TED. Though the time commitment doesn’t allow for more, I do still love books and have been known to binge read over a weekend. Michelle Obama’s Becoming and Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility are two conquests from last year and this year.
What’s the best way to start your day?
Three years ago, I walked into a local gym at 5AM to start what I thought would be a 10-week “challenge” to be healthier through better nutrition and exercise. Though my “gym” is now my basement and I’ve adjusted my start time to 6AM (given the elimination of commuting time for the time being) – I have not looked back. Those precious 45 minutes of sweating it out and challenging myself physically every morning is my fuel to handle whatever may come my way every day.
What do you like about your workspace?
My workspace since March has been a window seat in my dining room, outfitted with a standing desk, that looks out to the side of my yard. During my virtual meetings I am entertained by an occasional “thud” as thrill-seeking bugs fling themselves onto the picture window glass, visits from a variety of birds (my fave is the hummingbird), and other suburbia wildlife – deer, rabbits, squirrels, the neighbor’s kids. The best part is on Friday afternoon after I shut down for the week, the standing desk is removed and replaced with my window seat cushion, all other office equipment and materials go back in the cabinet. The workspace disappears and it’s my dining room again until Monday morning!
Fill in the Blank
When I face a challenge, I… take a deep breath, pray and remind myself that without challenges, there is no growth and no learning; then I take another deep breath and face it head on!
If I could go back in time, I would tell myself… that it’s OK to not be OK all the time.
The one thing I couldn’t live without is… my family (easiest question!)
Diversity and Inclusion inspires me because, … there is still so much work to do and we each have a part to play.
JOHNSON & JOHNSON
At Johnson & Johnson, we believe good health is the foundation of vibrant lives, thriving communities and forward progress. That’s why for more than 130 years, we have aimed to keep people well at every age and every stage of life. Today, as the world’s largest and most broadly based healthcare company, we are committed to using our reach and size for good. We strive to improve access and affordability, create healthier communities, and put a healthy mind, body and environment within reach of everyone, everywhere.
Every day, our more than 130,000 employees across the world are blending heart, science and ingenuity to profoundly change the trajectory of health for humanity.
Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies have long recognized that small and diverse suppliers play an important role in the success of our businesses. Now in its third decade, we continue to celebrate the successes of our Supplier Diversity & Inclusion program, while at the same time, never taking success for granted. We continue to grow and improve our program, acting inclusively and embracing diversity in all aspects. Our Supplier Diversity Program is designed to ensure that businesses with diverse ownership, control and operations, may become valued partners, and grow with us. Our Global Supplier Diversity & Inclusion program extends to 17 countries across all regions.
Learn more about Johnson & Johnson at www.jnj.com.