Blog Post

Diversity Dialogue with Vildan Stidham, Divisional Vice President Global Talent Acquisition at Abbott

March 3, 2015
vildan abbott class=
Vildan Stidham

Vildan Stidham is the Divisional Vice President of Global Talent Acquisition at Abbott. In this role, Vildan leads global strategies for Human Capital Planning, Employer Branding, Divisional and Executive Recruiting, Global Sourcing, Diversity & Inclusion and Compliance, University Relations & Development Programs, Social Media Recruiting and Talent Acquisition Global Systems and Technology.

Previously, Vildan has held numerous HR leadership positions within Abbott including Talent Acquisition Director of Pharmaceuticals Group, Talent Acquisition Head of Corporate Functions and Director of International Talent Acquisition. In her most recent role, Vildan was based in Singapore and led the initiatives to globalize Talent Acquisition function and built capabilities in emerging markets.

Prior to joining Abbott, Vildan has held numerous leadership roles in Executive Search, Human Resource Consulting and line management in Marketing throughout Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and North America.

Vildan holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing and MBA with Finance emphasis. Vildan is certified Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR).

Diversity Best Practices had a chance to hear from Vildan about the work the D&I team is doing at Abbott including the successes and the challenges of that work.

1. What was your career path leading to diversity and inclusion?

I started my career on the business side. After spending several years in marketing and brand communication, I moved into the talent management space. For the last 20 years, I have been practicing what I am passionate about: talent acquisition and global inclusion. I am fortunate enough to share this enthusiasm with Abbott, where diversity is part of our DNA.

2. What is something you are most proud of since you started in D&I?

As a global company with approximately 70 percent of our sales coming from outside the U.S., diversity isn’t a pretty word we throw around: it’s a business imperative. We need a diverse workforce to deliver local solutions in the markets we serve. Specific to D&I, I would highlight these accomplishments:

  • We’ve been recognized by multiple diversity organizations for our commitment, including Working Mother magazine, DiversityInc., Hispanic Business Magazine, and Calvert, among others.
  • Women comprise 45 percent of management and nearly half of Abbott’s global workforce.
  • Developing customized leadership programs for our employee affinity networks, which helps participants become leaders not only within their networks, but also their current roles.
  • Partnering with local diversity organizations such as Chicago Urban League to expand awareness of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) professions and engaging with middle and high school students on a two-week STEM camp sponsored by Abbott.

3. What do you see as Abbott’s biggest strength when it comes to building a diverse and inclusive workplace for all employees?

Diversity and inclusion is an outgrowth of who we are: it is not a task or a separate initiative. It is an integrated part of our talent and business strategies. Abbott believes that everyone has a part in maintaining a diverse and inclusive environment and it is each employee’s responsibility to ensure they are doing their part.

Abbott leaders carry D&I goals and lead the messaging to ensure diversity and inclusion is a part of our culture. In the past 10 years, we have moved to an almost 50/50 split of males vs. females. Pushing the message down from leadership through our organization and making this everyone’s role in the company has enabled us to make a large impact.

4. What is it about D&I that you are most passionate about?

A recent article from McKinsey called “Diversity Matters” was able to quantify and suggest how diversity in the workforce helps the bottom line. D&I can bring innovation, creative thinking, and different perspectives that are essential in our growing businesses, especially outside of the U.S. I’m most passionate about bringing diverse talent to Abbott. What’s most rewarding is watching them grow throughout their career while helping Abbott develop as a company.

5. What is on the horizon for D&I at Abbott?

Because a significant portion of our business is outside the U.S., global inclusion is an area where we continue to focus. Developing leaders who are culturally astute and have diverse work experience is not only part of that focus, but also critical to our business growth. As part of this, we are expanding our women’s leadership employee network and strategy to encompass a global reach. International leadership conferences, global mentoring circles and global executive involvement are helping Abbott to develop future leaders around the world.

6. What is the greatest challenge currently facing Abbott regarding diversity and inclusion and how is the organization addressing it?

Ensuring we remain relevant to a global, diversified business that is continually growing and evolving is something we always have to stay ahead of. To do this, we work collectively with our business leaders and employee networks to drive high impact strategies and develop our people.