In Conversation with…Caroline Luscombe, Head of Human Resources, Executive Vice President
Women@Sanofi celebrates our highly successful women who work with dedication and passion across our teams worldwide to deliver solutions in healthcare for everyone, everywhere. In this series of conversations, discover who they really are, what drives them and the rich mix of cultures and perspectives they bring to the table. As individuals they lead the way and push the boundaries, and as a whole they embody our engagement and actions to instill gender equality into the fabric of everything we say and do.
The second series of Women@Sanofi focuses on the diverse mix of cultures and nationalities of our women at the top as well as their desire to ensure an inclusive and open workplace.
Caroline Luscombe joined Sanofi in October 2018. She previously worked as Head of Organization and Human Resources and a member of the Executive Committee at LafargeHolcim, based in Zurich, Switzerland. Before joining LafargeHolcim, she spent six years as Global Head of Human Resources and a member of the Executive Committee at Syngenta. Caroline began her career in London working in finance after obtaining a bachelor’s degree in German from University College, London.
What was it like growing up in Lancashire in England?
It was a bit grim because I was quite poor and, and it was an industrial town, tough, but I had a really happy childhood. I grew up as a child of immigrants. There were just the five of us. I had no relatives nearby, no grandparents so we relied on each other. So family was and is incredibly important to me. It’s the thing that really drives me.
I experienced a lot of racism-my father grew up in the West Indies, he was Jamaican, and my mother grew up in Austria. I couldn’t wait to escape to London, to be somewhere where I was not different from everybody else.
Do you think your background made you more aware of the importance of an inclusive and diverse society?
There weren’t many people of my background in my town and it does make you aware of a sense of fairness and justice. I felt strongly that you shouldn’t judge people because of what they look like on the outside. So equality of opportunity and inclusion and diversity is a very personal topic for me.
How aware are the next generation?
My two children really don’t see or care about colour or orientation. They just tend to see people. But maybe that’s because they had a quite liberal education.
How do you foster inclusion and diversity in the workplace, particularly in your role?
It’s an incredibly important business topic, as well as one that I think is the right thing to do. But it can’t just be the HR function that cares about it. If you look at Sanofi’s global footprint, we are in over 100 countries. We serve all types of communities, we must reflect the patients and the customer base that we have. We’re also an innovation company so we have to attract the brightest, the best people, who think differently.
What drives you?
The common denominator is working with people, but it’s also because you believe you can bring something to a company, that you can make a difference. Of course, being in HR, I have to really enjoy working with people, and I do. People often say, “Is it any different here from anywhere else?”, and I say, “People behave the same way wherever you go.” The thing that attracted me was a sense of purpose and also the opportunity, I believe, to make a difference and to contribute to what we’re doing.