According to a recent Indy Star story, “dozens of current and former workers at Eli Lilly and Co. are stepping forward to accuse the Indianapolis drug maker of racial discrimination, adding heft to an ongoing lawsuit that paints the company as hostile to black employees.”

Another recent AP story noted that the NAACP “joined an expanded racial discrimination case in which more than 50 plaintiffs now allege Eli Lilly & Co. created a hostile workplace and paid them less than their white peers.”

The story went on to mention that Lilly’s highest ranking black employee is Derica Rice, the company’s chief financial officer and a senior vice president.

Perhaps its highest ranking Puerto Rican employee is Dierdre Connelly, president of U.S. Operations. NOTE: Where I come from — NYC — Puerto Ricans/latinos were and maybe still are considered a “race” to be discriminated against as viciously as blacks.

After Connelly made a few remarks — which some call courageous and others call outrageous — at an industry meeting on Monday, she was criticized for:

  • being “Far removed from reality” (see this post at World of DTC Marketing)
  • accusing sales reps complaining on Cafe Pharma of being cowards
  • masquerading as a sales rep
  • speaking out instead of staying home and minding her business

Comments on pharma blogs & boards seem to follow a similar pattern:

“Deirdre Connelly is out of touch. Seriously, Lilly is in deep shit with her in charge.” (heard at PharmaGossip)

“Dierdre is a legend in her own mind and has no idea what we do anymore.” (heard at Pharma Marketing Blog).

“Connelly is nothing more than a witch without a broom.” (heard at Cafe Pharma)

“DC was a rep in Puerto Rico, where virtually everything is under the Reforma program; she “promoted” Illosone & Keflex — and in those days a female rep in a chauvanistic (sic) culture like Puerto Rico — come on now.” (heard at Cafe Pharma)

BTW, is there a male equivalent of “witch without a broom?” How about “Jock without a Strap?”

Pharmaceutical Diversity — An Oxymoron?
Which finally brings me to a continuation of my post yesterday about the “diversity issue” at Lilly and other pharmaceutical companies, especially in the executive suite.

Although Lilly has said that 16 percent of its employees are minorities, the Indy Star article notes that some outsiders say Lilly and the drug industry as a whole is vulnerable to racial charges because relatively few senior executives are minority.

“From what we can tell, the senior management ranks of major pharmaceutical companies are not particularly diverse, which makes them incrementally more of a target of discrimination suits,” Les Funtleyder, a drug analyst at Miller Tabak & Co., wrote in a research note to clients.

If you are a “person of color” working within the drug industry and have any personal stories related to diversity in your work place, I’d like to hear from you.