Saturday, June 2, 2012

Jim Akers of Pfizer


Advocate for Diverse Procurement Moves to New Post in China

by Robert F. Finkelstein, Esq.

NGLCCNY is proud and fortunate to include Pfizer as one of its corporate partners.  Since 2009, when it first became involved with NGLCCNY, Pfizer has demonstrated its longstanding commitment to the LGBT community by providing unyielding support to NGLCCNY.  Among its contributions, Pfizer has sponsored NGLCCNY’s annual Shining Stars event since the event’s inception in 2010, hosted two M3’s, and, consistent with its own initiatives, has already assisted in introducing numerous NGLCC certified businesses to one another. 

One of the key Pfizer individuals who has been instrumental in building NGLCCNY’s strong relationship with Pfizer is Jim Akers.  Notwithstanding his demanding work schedule and an imminent move to China, Jim was kind enough to devote some time for an interview for this article. 

In November 2010, Jim took on the role of overseeing Pfizer’s global sourcing, including marketing and sales procurement.  Jim’s own involvement with supplier diversity issues and the LGBT community is evident by his role as Vice-Chair of the NGLCC Corporate Council.  Jim will continue in those roles after May 15 when he officially begins working for Pfizer China Ltd.  Jim’s move to Shanghai and his new role at Pfizer will have a positive impact upon Pfizer’s supplier diversity program.  As Jim explains it, Pfizer is deeply committed to its supplier diversity program because, as part of its vision of its own corporate responsibility, Pfizer believes "it is just the right thing to do."  Jim intends on building a stronger LGBT leadership role in Shanghai by, among other things, educating businesses in Asia about the role of the LGBT community in businesses in the United States. 

Although we will greatly miss seeing Jim at upcoming NGLCCNY events, we are pleased that Pfizer’s corporate sponsorship with NGLCCNY will remain strong.  In a further effort to grow its ever-expanding network of diverse suppliers, Pfizer recently restructured its employee resource groups, now organized by Global Councils for various diverse communities, including various minority-owned business enterprises (MBEs), women-owned business enterprises (WBEs), and LGBT-owned business enterprises.  Within the LGBT community, Pfizer remains active with the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Out and Equal Workplace Advocates, among others.  Through its support in diverse communities, Pfizer has been able to further engage many of its own employees, recruit many talented individuals onto its team, and support businesses with which it might otherwise not have had the opportunity to work. 

One of the greatest benefits to NGLCCNY members Jim feels is important to address is the part of Pfizer’s supplier diversity program whereby Pfizer introduces diverse suppliers to one another.  This program grew from Pfizer’s sense of obligation to introduce diverse suppliers to other large companies.  For example, Pfizer takes great pride in its participation in NGLCCNY’s Employee Resource Group (ERG) Roundtable initiative where key leaders from NGLCCNY Corporate Partners convene to share ideas and knowledge, including information about diverse suppliers.

NGLCC’s certification process for LGBT owned businesses is a huge benefit for businesses seeking to grow their supplier diversity programs.  Jim expressed his hope that more and more business will take advantage of such certified suppliers.  Moreover, as Jim was quick to point out, having a certification process for LGBT owned businesses will further work to educate the public about the talent and professionalism that the LGBT community adds to larger businesses and society, thereby obliterating prior baseless forms of discrimination against the LGBT community.

We wish Jim every continued success in his new position and his move to Shanghai.  We also look forward to Jim’s and Pfizer’s continued participation with NGLCCNY and NGLCC. 

Seeing the great work that Pfizer has done with its supplier diversity program and its leadership with respect to its inclusion of the LGBT community further underscores the importance for LGBT business owners to seek certification as a diverse business.  For additional information about the NGLCC Supplier Diversity Initiative and becoming an LGBT Business Enterprise, please contact David Ricciardi at david@nglccny.org.

Written by Robert F. Finkelstein, Esq., NGLCCNY Legal Correspondent; Media Communications Committee.  Rob is an attorney practicing commercial litigation, construction law, general corporate, and employment law with John E. Osborn P.C

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