LRN Perspectives

From Ethics and Compliance Warrior to Sustainability Evangelist: AstraZeneca’s Jim Massey Keeps the Focus on People

October 22, 2019 LRN Corporation

“It’s about all of us working together, creating the psychological safety for every voice to be heard and for organizations to learn to treat every person that walks through the door as an individual.”

 – Jim Massey

On this episode of the Principled podcast, host Ben DiPietro, Editor of LRN’s ENC Pulse Newsletter, interviews the Vice-President of Sustainability at AstraZeneca, Jim Massey. Jim is leading his Compliance colleagues to expand their role to global sustainability, which has allowed for them to take up more space in meetings and to address larger issues, such as access to healthcare. Conversations that focus on the “why” behind company values and direction, as well as keeping communications simple and easily translatable across the multinational company have supported Ethics and Compliance buy-in at all levels. AstraZeneca is focusing on improving diversity and inclusion by encouraging employees to speak up and treating each person as an individual.


  • [0:50] How did you come to oversee Sustainability and Compliance at AstraZeneca?
  • [0:59] Jim found that when he looked for ways to let people be who they wanted to be in the world, new opportunities continued to present themselves in order for his career to expand from a Sales Rep to consumer marketing and roles in compliance and sustainability.
  • [2:06] What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in integrating Ethics and Compliance with sustainability and social issue awareness? How did you overcome these challenges?
  • [2:18] The biggest challenge is taking a group of Compliance colleagues, who have been focused on the task of following a policy and expanding that role to global sustainability. This issue was overcome by having a lot of conversations about where we’re going and why we’re headed there.
  • [4:02] Now that you’ve gone through the process of melding together Ethics and Compliance and Sustainability, what were the outcomes?
  • [4:16] By shifting to include sustainability, Compliance has expanded and gained elbow room at the table in order to broaden its impact and discuss global issues, such as access to healthcare.
  • [5:30] Are there still times when Ethics and Compliance must be separated from Sustainability?
  • [5:35] From Jim’s point of view, when he is helping people take the company values and make decisions on a daily basis, it doesn’t seem like the two should ever be separated.
  • [6:33] Do you get pushback from colleagues that are on a different adoption curve than you are?
  • [6:36] Yes, and the pushback that Jim gets comes from the resistance to change in general, not that they are incapable of doing the activity.
  • [7:28] How can Ethics and Compliance lay the groundwork for better relationships with other business units? Are other business units now more willing to embrace Ethics and Compliance than in the past?
  • [7:42] What hasn’t changed is the need to listen and meet colleagues where they are, in order to position the appropriate “why”. By structuring conversations this way, the relationship becomes less transactional and more of a partnership.
  • [8:40] How can training and messaging be more effective to get higher levels of support and buy-in from employees, business units, management, and the board?
  • [8:50] In a multinational company, it’s important to keep communications simple, across languages. Practically, this translates to keeping communications in English at or below a fifth grade level.
  • [10:46] Do you have to take a different approach when it comes to management and the board?
  • [10:49] Normally, when Jim is presenting to a senior executive, he only gets three slides, and they don’t want to see a bunch of fluffy words, so his approach doesn’t change.
  • [11:39] How is AstraZeneca working towards diversity and inclusion, and what can other organizations do to improve in this area?
  • [11:58] AstraZeneca is encouraging employees to speak up by using Workplace by Facebook, and encouraging leaders to not only listen, but to also follow-up and take transparent action. Diversity and inclusion is crucial to the strategy at AstraZeneca, because the war on talent is going to continue to increase.
  • [14:32] What are two issues you see as being dominant for Ethics and Compliance departments in the next five or 10 years?
  • [14:39] Ethics and Compliance exists because of people and how they interact, so people are going to continue to be a key element. Technology is overtaking all issues though, in terms of how we communicate, when we communicate, what’s being retained, and what impact we are having.
  • [15:27] What do you see for the Ethics and Compliance profession over the next 25 years?
  • [15:42] People that are involved with Ethics will be discussing topics that are associated with preserving the human species and the planet.

    Don’t miss our next episode! Be sure to subscribe to Principled on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Play or wherever you listen to podcasts.
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