Willow Spotlight: Janine Ting Jansen – Nurturing Diverse Talent in the Workplace
A leader and champion with the Latinx and Asian communities, and for women, Janine Ting Jansen has worked for several top law firms, Citi, S&P Global and currently serves as the Senior Director of Inclusion and Diversity, North America, for Teva Pharmaceuticals.
The first in her family to pursue a college education, she is passionate about helping others, particularly diverse individuals, to advance their careers and educational attainment. She has held several board positions with Prospanica New York (President), Latino U College Access (Board Advisor), the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Alumni Association’s New York Chapter (Past President, Advisor) and New York City SHRM’s Inclusivity Co-Chair. Most recently, she was featured as a contributing author for the book “Latinas Rising up In HR”.
In her current role at Teva Pharmaceuticals, Janine leads multiple Employee Resource Groups, and is responsible for the leadership strategy that touches this population. “One of the things that I’m quite proud of at our company, is that we’re pursuing cultural assessments as a tool for leaders to demonstrate their commitment to foster that inclusive culture. Because getting the talent could be the easier thing to do for some companies, but keeping them is the magic.” Janine told Willow.
Willow sat down with Janine for an exclusive interview, where she shared her insights on:
Read the condensed and edited interview below, and follow us on Instagram for exclusive video clips from our interview.
You are also a prominent leader and advocate for Latinx and Asian communities. Can you share your personal story and why you believe in the importance of helping others to not only advance their careers, but also to achieve educational attainment and financial empowerment?
My passion for this really comes from a personal place. I identify as being Mexican, Chinese, and also a New Yorker. And New York born is a key term there. I was born here, as were my parents, but my grandparents immigrated here. Both of my grandfather’s immigrated here from China, while both of my grandmother’s came from Mexico. Navigating all the different nuances of what that looks like is wonderful – that means that our Thanksgiving meal includes turkey, sweet potatoes, and also rice and beans. And in our culture on the Chinese side, we like to make fish. There’s so many different fusions of all that food because we acknowledge all that cultural learning. So to put it simply, when I think of that table – that all influences who I am.
I like to think of myself as ambi-cultural because I’m 100% Chinese, I’m 100% Mexican, and having been born and raised here, I’m also American. With that said, in the United States the way we look at race is influenced by how I’m perceived, or present myself, in the room.
Growing up, my father was a New York City Corrections Officer and then a Fireman. My mother stayed at home in our early lives before going back into the workforce. These dynamics really shaped who I have become and naturally influenced what I would come to value. The value of education has always been imprinted on me, but as a first generation college student without any role models to look to, I struggled navigating the experience at times. Still continuing education became a core part of my life as I went on to get my master’s degree and more recently a few DEI certifications as well.
I’m personally very committed to being a Constant Learner, but I know it’s important to acknowledge that the right path looks different for everyone. So when I think of my multicultural-self and how I share this with my three young children, what I want most is for them to be their full, confident self. But, I also want them to understand all the history that’s come before them. For a long time I felt for myself that imposter syndrome – feeling like people saw me as the only Chinese representation in a room, or the only Mexican representation in the room. I struggled as a result of these biases being put on me and from feeling like I was being placed in a box. So owning and navigating our family’s multicultural heritage confidently throughout life is something I want to give them.
All of this has contributed to the passion I have for reaching more fairness and equality in the workplace and how we have representation in education and in public service. And in corporate America, it’s something that, you know, we’re getting better at every day.
DEI is finally on the top of mind of corporate leaders. Can you share your insights on how different organizations are handling DEI initiatives? And what is working from your perspective?
Companies are pursuing DEI initiatives very differently. Some are being very bold with their statements and making huge commitments, and that’s really inspiring to see. Meanwhile, other companies are taking a more measured, traditional approach, focusing more on what they think they can achieve. Sometimes, this comes down to money – what can they commit from a financial perspective, and that varies between companies. What I think is integral to remember is that there is a lot that can be done from a company culture perspective that doesn’t cost a lot of money and can have a big impact.
Many companies are approaching DEI from a recruitment perspective, because they want to build diversity from the ground up, right? What I think more companies need to consider, however, is how they can build a culture that will support diverse individuals after they have been hired so they can continue to grow and thrive. Furthermore, with Gen Z changing the scope of workplace expectations and the Great Resignation, reading the talent is going to become even more tantamount than what we’ve seen in the past year. The more companies are able to get ahead of having diversity as a core element of their culture, the better.
One of the things that I’m quite proud of at our company, is that we’re pursuing cultural assessments as a tool for leaders to demonstrate their commitment to foster that inclusive culture. Because getting the talent could be the easier thing to do for some companies, but keeping them is the magic.
So while I’m very proud of all the commitments that companies are making, there’s so much more work to do. Across the board, there is still under representation of women at the table, as well as a significant pay gap. We know that women are getting more degrees than ever before, and yet, they’re still starting at a lower salary, lower on the totem pole, and their voices aren’t represented. So when I think about the core of the journey we are on, it really comes down to striving towards a future moment where we can be proud of having diverse individuals represented in all of these levels.
With the definition of success that you spoke to in mind, what do you think are some of the most effective tools or steps that leaders can take for improving diversity and inclusion efforts within their organizations?
Nurturing the talent that you do have is one of the most important tools. Really being honest with yourself with the diversity metrics that you’re looking at. Is it something that you’re proud of? Then look at the performance review process and the top achievers in any given group. Have you truly evened the playing field to provide equal project opportunities across the board? So yes, it is important to start with recruiting diverse talent. But then, how do we nurture them and move them upward?
With this in mind, when I think about what success is as a leader, it’s being proud of the culture you have fostered, right? It’s stepping out and saying – “this is what I’m looking for and this is what I’m going to do to achieve it”. We’re trying to rework the wheel of how we support, recruit, and nurture that talent, so success as a leader could be that you really set yourself up with something that’s achievable over the next year. It’s taking an assessment of where you are today, developing an action plan, and being transparent about how you will implement and achieve it. And while there may not be financial cost implications here, it certainly does take time.
One recommendation I recently made to a leader was to write quarterly updates to their team reiterating what they set out to do and summarizing what they have accomplished so far. Then every quarter, read it back and hold yourself and your team accountable for progress with this type of scorecard. This is something I would encourage you all to do as well.
It’s picking the things that are authentic to you, then being transparent and acknowledging exactly where you are in the journey. It’s critical to talk openly both about how you’re progressing and how you’re not. This honesty and transparency will go a long way for your team.
Have you worked with a coach before, and how has that experience impacted you?
I’ve worked with a coach before and she is phenomenal. I was awarded a coaching opportunity for some work that I had done in a past company, and I’ve been working with her ever since. For me, the real benefit I get from working with her is how she structures things in a way that she’s always encouraging me to think one year out. Where am I spending my time? What am I doing? She presents feedback in such a way that it’s actionable and achievable, and she doesn’t let me be comfortable. She is this person who’s going to really push me and be direct with me in a way that forces me to quickly see things from a different perspective.
Coaching is a great way to invest in yourself. Be honest about who you are, who you want to be, and what it is you have to say. We have to be our own biggest advocates and seek out new development opportunities because otherwise, they’re not going to come find you.
Why do you think it is important for women to be financially empowered?
Some of the common pitfalls when it comes to women is that we’re not as informed as we could be. Right? I like to think of it as a habit, and it takes several attempts to build a habit. There’s a variety of tools you can use to help build healthy financial habits. I know a lot of employers are giving their employees access to advisors now. But there’s also just holding yourself accountable for looking after things and planning for your future.
I think for myself, it’s important that I put money away for my kids. That’s my personal truth there. So how do I do that? I put mechanisms in place to keep me on track and make sure that I’m being honest with myself and my goals. That often means having difficult conversations. But one thing that I think is critical is being independent. Making sure that you’re well informed and knowledgeable about where everything is, where everything is going, and how you’re going to support your long term goals. This could be for yourself, your retirement, or your young children.
Set goals for yourself and look at them every day. Depending on your situation, I think it’s also important to have that money talk with your children early on so you can try to avoid common pitfalls. At the end of the day, this is your mental health. This is your well being and your independence. Make different decisions for yourself and control your own financial future.
What are some of the barriers you see to achieving financial independence for underrepresented communities, especially when multi-generational dynamics are at play?
So I have to sit back and think of my own family. But beyond that, I’m also in a book with 19 other authors, Latinos rising up in HR, and each of the authors has their own authentic story. Some of them are single moms, some of them care for their parents and their children. Or there’s the circumstances of moving within the countries or moving here in the United States. Having difficulty getting into school or finding a full time job.
So when I think through all those stories, and my own, I think of the need to build wealth, and how we’re all set back. As women, we have a wage gap – we start out making less because we typically don’t negotiate for more. Take even another step back and consider the educational access piece, and having to support multiple generations of families at a time or raising a child as a single mom. These are all factors that really impact your financial future. With this in mind, I think it is important that we, as women, are always building a plan. I believe in a three month fund. I believe in looking ahead and making sure that you have multiple revenue streams.
This can be overwhelming, but aspiring to think big is important. Your financial wellness impacts your mental health, so I think it’s really important to take control of your financial future by choosing to take action and then give others’ in need the same advice you received that worked well for you.
How can women better advocate for themselves? But within that, can you speak to how you advocate for yourself?
I think women can sometimes struggle with not speaking confidently or being direct. This is something you have to practice so that you can be authentic and impactful. So I try to encourage women to evaluate what it is that they need to be successful, whether that be at work or in their personal life, and just be direct about it. Try not to fall into this emotionally charged need to over explain or to say things in an indirect way.
I try to think of business style communication – it’s tell me what you want and ask for it in the first line, right? Really just give me the three key things I need to know. Evaluate your communication style and then consider how you can be more direct while staying true to your brand. I think that will serve you well.
So for myself and my own advocacy, I have tried to find individuals around me, peers as well as individuals levels up from me, who are willing to give me direct feedback. The more feedback I can get the more work I can do on refining my brand and presenting myself as the individual I want to be. Identify your own strengths and weaknesses and work on them. Make sure you have people who are not just going to sit back and say you’re doing an amazing job. Yes, positive reinforcement is important, of course. But you also want to know that you have people who will be honest with you and push you and truly help you get where you need to be in order to accomplish your goals.