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Caswall Price sees strength in diversity at Boehringer Ingelheim

Author: Pamela Brown

Diversity is important to Caswall Price. Through his strong work ethic and dedication to it, Price has been able to influence change and highlight the positive effects of a diverse work environment. "I believe in all people being treated respectfully and fairly, and valued for their contributions," said Price, associate director, chief diversity and inclusion officer at Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals in Ridgefield. "It's a known fact that the strength of our country is rooted in its diversity. I strongly believe that the strength of Boehringer Ingelheim is also rooted in its diverse workforce starting with the fact that we're a privately owned German company which also adds to our diversity."
A Danbury resident, Price has worked at the company since 1990. "My experience as a person of African descent who has lived in three different regions of the country helps drive my passion for leading the diversity initiative at Boehringer Ingelheim," said Price. "Meeting the daily workplace challenges head on and partnering with the senior leadership of the company and my fellow colleagues in human resources in coming up with interesting solutions makes the job interesting."

In his position, Price provides organizational leadership articulating and promoting the Boehringer Ingelheim U.S. Diversity Strategy. "I also influence and direct the continued development of a diverse, inclusive, high-performing workplace where all employees are respected and valued for their contribution to our company's business goal of delivering value through innovation," said Price, who is also involved in promoting the company's image in the local communities by participating in numerous charitable events and community activities.

According to Price, diversity has become a pivotal initiative for Boehringer Ingelheim over the last four years. "It has really taken on a new focus and new energy since 2001 when the corporate leadership approved a business case for diversity in the U.S. Since then, all the Boehringer companies in the U.S. have developed and implemented diversity action plans and all have established diversity councils," he said.

Each day offers Price a different challenge. "I like that. I don't like doldrums kinds of jobs. I like excitement. There's nothing dry and unexciting about influencing change that produces positive results. It's very exciting to see the vast majority of my fellow colleagues come to work every day excited about the opportunity to work for a company that respects and values their contribution," said Price. "Boehringer Ingelheim is dedicated to promoting and maintaining this type of work environment for its employees. I'm excited to be part of a team that's involved in that process."

To improve his knowledge and strengthen his role as an effective leader, Price attends various meetings and seminars. "Diversity is an evolving subject and there's always new information and best practices that you want to hear about. I travel to our other operating units in Ohio, Virginia and Missouri. I attend many of the top minority recruiting events in search of a broader pool of top talent to fill our open positions. Additionally, I visit some of the top historically black colleges and universities promoting Boehringer Ingelheim and establishing new academic relationships and strengthening existing ones," said Price. "I like to travel. I enjoy seeing different cultures and meeting others who are involved in my area of focus. The energy that comes from that is phenomenal."

Boehringer Ingelheim offers a Diversity Education and Awareness course to all of its more than 7,400 U.S. employees. "This course is designed to help increase the employees' knowledge of the business case for diversity in the workplace and their awareness of the many diversity dimensions and issues associated with them," said Price, who sees it as an enlightening subject. "I like to see and hear the differences in perception of the participants about what diversity is to them when they start the day and at the end of the day. I like to see minds open up. I like to work with many colleagues whose passion and commitment for diversity in the workplace is so strong."

Price's journey to Danbury began in Jamaica, West Indies. He arrived in the U.S. to attend Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Ark., on a track scholarship. In 1974, he received a BS in chemistry from Philander Smith and later received a master's degree in chemistry from North Carolina AT T State University in Greensboro. Price also studied analytical chemistry at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. "I developed an interest in science at an early age and struggled with it at every level but was determined to pursue it. I have an inquisitive mind, just curious about why and how things work, live, form, and exist," said Price, who was a chemistry instructor at North Carolina AT T University and a chemist for a division of Hoffman La Roche in North Carolina. Learning of a position at Boehringer, Price was impressed with the company's warmth and professionalism.

Prior to his work at Boehringer, diversity wasn't Price's focus. "Diversity hasn't always been on my mind. It became more so as my experience grew and being in the field of science and knowing the types of collaborations needed to create and develop quality, innovative products and that getting information from different sources usually result in a more robust product. That's critical. Diversity does increase innovation and problem solving," said Price. "I saw a need for this and was privileged to be identified to drive this change process and improve this climate."

In June, a global survey conducted by Science Magazine named Boehringer Ingelheim one of the eight best companies to work for based on the following driving characteristics: clear vision of the future, loyal employees, treating employees with respect, alignment of work and personal values and performing important quality research. "It does validate that we're creating the type of culture and workplace that we have here," said Price. "Fortune Magazine publishes a list of the 100 best companies to work for and our goal is to become one of those, and we know we're in line to do that. We're a great company to work for. It's been a wonderful experience."
Aside from work, Price enjoys spending time with his wife of 25 years, Cheryl, and their four children, Christopher, 23, Matthew, 19, Brianna, 15, and Jeremy, 9. "I read to keep up with current affairs, watch sporting events on television, and participate in the New Hope Baptist Church in Danbury and community activities that impact the lives of our young people. I'm really interested in that," said Price, a board member of the Western Connecticut chapter of the Society of Human Resources and an advisory board member for the Hord Foundation.

Price is pleased with all he's accomplished. "I'm very happy and content with my life, my work, and my family," said Price. In the future he intends to keep striving to make a difference. "I'd like to continue to influence the culture change at Boehringer Ingelheim. For the long term, after getting the diversity initiative in full swing and it becomes the way we do business every day. Basically in the next three to five years we'll have that culture, I'd like to explore something else that's as exciting and challenging, perhaps in another area of people initiatives."
For Price the ultimate reward is seeing the positive effect of his work. "I value most the opportunities I've had during my science career to make contributions that positively impact the lives of human beings all over the globe suffering from serious medical conditions. Currently, I value the great opportunity I have to make a positive impact on the Boehringer Ingelheim U.S. workforce."

Copyright, 2005, The News-Times (Danbury, CT)

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