Recognized as one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2016)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Dec 8, 2015)
Here are some of the reasons why AstraZeneca Canada Inc. was selected as one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2016):
- AstraZeneca Canada encourages employees to plan for the future with contributions to a matching RSP plan or defined contribution pension plan, and also extends health benefits to retirees (with no age limit)
- AstraZeneca Canada cultivates an ownership culture through a share purchase plan, available to all employees, and offers additional financial rewards, including signing bonuses for some employees and referral bonuses for employees who successfully refer a candidate (to $2,000)
- In addition to being active in the local community, AstraZeneca Canada created the Young Health Program, a long-term community involvement initiative to improve the health and wellness of vulnerable youth
Fighting cancer gets personal at AstraZeneca
"Science and the patient are at the heart of everything we do at AstraZeneca." That, says Carlo Mastrangelo, Director, Corporate Communications, is one of the key attractions of working at Mississauga-based AstraZeneca Canada Inc., a biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of innovative medicines for treating cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.
According to Mastrangelo, the last 18 months have been an exciting time for the organization.
"We have increased our research footprint in Canada, tripled the size of our clinical team and are moving into new areas of medicine, including personalized healthcare and treatments that are tied to a specific patient biomarker," he says. "This is an industry and company that is incredibly gratifying, where you make a profound impact on the lives of patients each day."
Half of AstraZeneca's employees are based in Mississauga and half stationed across the country, specializing in clinical research, medical science and sales. The company offers a flexible work environment, providing technology to enable employees to work remotely. Patient story and scientific posters are found throughout its modern head office, aimed at connecting staff to their purpose - improving patient lives.
Employees are highly engaged. The company scored 94 per cent in its last employee engagement survey, which is conducted every two years. This is one of the top scores in the global corporation.
To help staff better understand the science behind the business and connect with patients, AstraZeneca runs a unique internal program called My Science Matters. It is led by the Scientific Affairs team, who host regular lunch and learn sessions, townhall presentations and fun scientific tournaments.
My Science Matters covers topics from educating employees about different diseases, to the patient journey and the latest in evolving science. Often physicians and patients are invited as guest speakers to share their perspectives and knowledge. A recent session highlighted the work of three young Canadian scientists who won Health Challenge Awards, sponsored by AstraZeneca, at the 2015 Canada Wide Science Fair.
AstraZeneca is committed to the professional development of employees. It recently held its first annual Development Week, where staff across different teams and levels were encouraged to think about their personal growth and provided with opportunities to build new skills. This event included resources and tools, videos, roundtables and a motivational guest speaker.
"When reviewing their vision statement, many organizations put the business first and employees second, but for AstraZeneca it`s the other way around," says Greer Hozack, Vice President, Human Resources and
Communications. "At the very outset we focus on great employees."
AstraZeneca is also a partner of Stand Up to Cancer Canada. This national campaign involves a number of charities, government agencies and companies. Its goal is to educate the public about cancer prevention and raise funds for interdisciplinary collaborative oncology research.
AstraZeneca takes great pride in being a partner of Stand Up to Cancer Canada, says Mastrangelo. Oncology is an important focus for the company, he says, as it has a deep-rooted heritage and an exciting research pipeline in areas such as breast, lung and ovarian cancer.
"Many of us have had friends or family battling cancer," says Mastrangelo. "It is a driving force behind the involvement of employees in Stand Up to Cancer Canada and we have placards with the names of people each of us are standing up for outside our offices and cubicles."
The company has also recently supported the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto. In 2015, AstraZeneca donated $450,000 to the centre's ovarian cancer program. The donation will help fund clinical trials, ovarian cancer research and training of the program's next generation of gynecological oncologists.
"In addition to the causes AstraZeneca supports, we encourage staff to volunteer and fundraise for charities they have a personal connection to," says Hozack. "We strongly believe in making a difference in our local communities."
This article appeared in the magazine announcing this year's Greater Toronto's Top Employers winners, published December 8, 2015 in The Globe and Mail. This article was prepared with the financial support of the employer, which did not write or edit its contents.