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One Year Later, a “Pledge” that is Changing Lives

October 25, 2021    Posted by: Eli Lilly and Company

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Indianapolis native Jasmine Graham’s mother died when she was 13. Since then, she has been taking care of herself, doing odd jobs, going in and out of the work force, and trying to be a full-time student.

Today, she is one of more than 20 apprentices participating in Lilly's first Professional Apprenticeship Program. This program provides talent from our community without college degrees, including Black Americans and other people of color, greater access to roles at Lilly that they may not have had through traditional recruiting means. 

Jasmine currently works full-time at Lilly’s Medicines Innovation Hub providing logistical and program execution support across the entire Talent Development Academy initiative. In this role, she uses her graphics background and resource investigator skills on a daily basis. "Everywhere I turn, even just in the building, it just screams opportunity,” she said. “A new window or door is opening.” 

The Professional Apprenticeship Program is one of several efforts born from Lilly’s summer 2020 Racial Justice Initiative which supports effective solutions to racial inequity and social injustice. Lilly’s investments thus far have focused on improving the educational, health, criminal justice and social mobility outcomes for Black Americans and other people of color.

One year ago, in October 2020, Lilly made another commitment by joining 22 other local companies in signing the Indy Racial Equity Pledge, listing specific actions that we committed to taking over the next one to two years.

The pledge is an effort driven by Business Equity for Indy (BEI), a joint committee with the Indy Chamber of Commerce and the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership that involves corporate leaders, including from Lilly, in advancing a fairer and more inclusive future for the city’s Black population and people color.

According to Lilly Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Diversity Steven Fry, who participated in an October 25 media event to recognize the anniversary of the pledge:

“The Indy Racial Equity Pledge captured a moment in time and represents an important launching point—or inspirational foundation—which Lilly has continued to build from to make Central Indiana a more equitable place.”

To hold ourselves accountable, Lilly, along with the other companies involved, provided updates on progress on the Indy on the Racial Equity Pledge website.  

Lilly’s pledge progress updates include job creation, along with apprenticeship and mentorship opportunities for Black Americans, and doubling our spend with Black American suppliers, vendors and entrepreneurs.

"I feel like Lilly is a company that truly gives anybody that option to grow and expand," said Graham, who plans to finish her last year at Ivy Tech to get her Associate of Applied Sciences Degree in visual communications and photography after her apprenticeship.

Visit the Indy Racial Equity Pledge website for more details on our pledge and updates on Lilly’s progress.