Rakhi Agarwal: Championing Diversity and Change

A Woman of Color Making Waves in Workplace Inclusion!

In a world that is rapidly evolving, diversity and inclusion have become more than mere buzzwords; they are the driving forces behind meaningful change in the workplace. Rakhi Agarwal, the Global Head of Supplier Diversity and Risk at Sanofi stands at the forefront of this transformative movement. Rakhi’s journey as a person of color and a woman has been marked by a determination to challenge norms and shatter barriers.

Rakhi’s journey started with her career in procurement, a field that exposed her to the significant influence that corporations’ purchasing power can have on society. This realization inspired her to harness that power for the greater good, striving to make a positive socio-economic impact.

Growing up in an entrepreneurial family, Rakhi witnessed the challenges faced by small and diverse business owners. These firsthand experiences fueled her determination to enter the arena of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). She recognized the need to bridge gaps and champion equal opportunities for all.

Throughout her career, Rakhi has garnered a host of accolades that celebrate her exceptional leadership. From the President’s Award at Mead Johnson to the Women’s Leadership Award from the USC Marshall School of Business, her achievements reflect her dedication to making a difference.

Beyond her professional accomplishments, Rakhi cherishes her role as a mother to three remarkable children. Balancing her career and family life, she demonstrates that passion and personal connections can coexist harmoniously.

This year, Rakhi’s commitment to diversity earned her a place in the Marquis Who’s Who, an esteemed recognition for her notable contribution to supplier diversity. Her story is one of empowerment, resilience, and a commitment to reshaping workplace dynamics to ensure inclusivity for all.

Below are the highlights of the interview:

Navigating a Journey of Excellence

Before joining Sanofi, Rakhi Agarwal embarked on a journey through esteemed companies like Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merck, and JNJ. Armed with certifications in CPM and CPIM, an MBA from the University of Southern Indiana, and an undergraduate degree in Supply Chain Management from Michigan State University, Rakhi’s career path speaks volumes of her dedication and expertise.

Her American dream began in 1996 when she arrived in the United States. She kicked off her professional journey as an intern in materials management at Kohler Co., followed by another internship in Process Excellence at JNJ. Her full-time role marked the start of a remarkable career at Mead Johnson Nutrition, a subsidiary of Bristol-Myers Squibb at the time.

Sanofi, a global pharmaceutical giant headquartered in Paris, became the next chapter in Rakhi’s story. The company’s focus on research, development, manufacturing, and marketing of pharmaceutical products positions it as a pivotal player in the industry. Rakhi’s role as Global Head of Supplier Diversity & Risk at Sanofi underscores her commitment to fostering diversity and inclusivity within the organization’s vast supply chain.

Rakhi’s responsibilities include spearheading strategies to promote supplier diversity—cultivating the intentional inclusion of diverse suppliers within Sanofi’s global supply chain. In this role, she plays a pivotal role in connecting with industry professionals, sharing knowledge, and staying at the forefront of developments in pharmaceuticals and healthcare.

In her pivotal role as the Global Head of Supplier Diversity and Risk at Sanofi, Rakhi orchestrates strategies that empower underrepresented groups and reshape the face of supplier networks. Her multifaceted responsibilities encompass both creating a diverse supplier ecosystem and meticulously managing supplier risks to ensure a resilient supply chain.

  • Elevating Supplier Diversity: Rakhi champions the inclusion of minority-owned, women-owned, LGBTQ+-owned, veteran-owned, and small businesses through ingenious programs. Her initiatives transcend traditional procurement practices, fostering a platform for underrepresented groups to flourish.


  • Synergizing with Procurement Teams: Collaboration is Rakhi’s forte. She collaborates closely with procurement teams to scout and evaluate diverse suppliers. This partnership leads to the nurturing of alliances that align with Sanofi’s procurement and diversity objectives.


  • Broadening the Horizon: Rakhi’s impact extends beyond the organization. She forges connections with external entities like minority business councils and community groups. These partnerships bolster the network of diverse suppliers while stimulating their growth and development.


  • Guiding the Way: The path to supplier diversity isn’t just about numbers; it’s about commitment. Rakhi guides internal stakeholders, from procurement teams to executive leadership, to embrace the significance of supplier diversity. Her role as a catalyst for understanding is pivotal.


  • Illuminating Progress: Metrics are the spotlight on progress. Rakhi expertly monitors and reports on supplier diversity performance, ensuring the journey remains on course. By identifying opportunities for improvement, she continually refines the process.


  • Managing Risk for Resilience: Supplier risk is a realm Rakhi adeptly navigates. Integrating procurement risk into Sanofi’s enterprise Risk strategy ensures a supply chain that’s both vibrant and resilient, minimizing disruptions while maximizing efficiency.

Rakhi’s role as a catalyst for change extends beyond her designation. With every initiative, collaboration, and metric monitored, she crafts a supply chain landscape that echoes inclusivity, resilience, and a brighter future for underrepresented businesses.

Impact on Corporate Growth

Rakhi underscores the power of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) concepts in boosting companies’ growth and visions. By embracing diversity, companies can fuel creativity, smarter decision-making, better problem-solving, heightened market relevance, top talent attraction, and improved reputation, all while addressing diverse healthcare needs globally.

With over 20 years in sourcing and procurement, Rakhi spearheads a revolutionary global supplier diversity program. Her strategies reenvision supplier diversity as a dynamic category, swiftly driving value and meeting goals. Her approach reshapes industry standards, propelling supplier diversity into new realms.

She emphasizes that integrity isn’t just a value; it’s the bedrock of success. As a leader, she champions integrity as an ongoing journey that involves everyone in the organization. By establishing an ethical environment, her leadership fosters a culture where values are lived, not just spoken.

Rakhi Agarwal’s visionary efforts carve a path toward growth through diversity. Her strategies and commitment to integrity don’t just transform companies; they set a new standard for leadership in a diverse and evolving world.

Forging Impactful Leadership

For Rakhi Agarwal, success isn’t just about accolades; it’s about making a meaningful mark on the world. As the Global Head of Supplier Diversity and Risk at Sanofi, she measures success by her ability to effect positive change, help others, and contribute to society’s greater good.

Rakhi’s path to success was strewn with challenges, especially as a woman of color in her industry. Faced with biases, difficult relationships, and conflicts, she turned these hurdles into stepping stones for growth. These experiences honed her communication, emotional intelligence, and conflict-resolution skills, enabling her to navigate complex relationships.

With a strong personality and determination, Rakhi transformed challenges into catalysts for her journey. She defied assumptions about her age and experience, using each situation to further define her path to success. She also acknowledges the role of these experiences in building her patience and resilience, enabling her to face surprises with confidence.

Rakhi’s leadership extends to nurturing the next generation. Through active involvement and support, she empowers young individuals to become compassionate and responsible leaders. By providing mentorship, she fills the role she wished she had earlier, ensuring that the leaders of tomorrow have the guidance they need.

Balancing Life’s Scales while Paving the Path

For Rakhi Agarwal, equilibrium between personal and professional domains is vital for holistic well-being. Acknowledging the challenge, she champions the importance of self-awareness, adaptability, and prioritization. Encouraging her team to set boundaries, manage time wisely, and prioritize self-care, she exemplifies the pursuit of a harmonious life.

Rakhi’s leadership journey is marked by her commitment to gender parity and inclusivity. As a woman in leadership, she envisions a landscape where leadership roles reflect diversity. She actively engages in mentoring and sponsoring fellow female professionals, providing guidance, backing, and opportunities for growth. Her mission is to bolster their skills, confidence, and career advancement, thereby cultivating a pipeline of future female leaders.

Rakhi Agarwal’s narrative exemplifies the art of equilibrium and the art of uplifting others. Her pursuit of balance and her dedication to fostering diverse leadership stand as testaments to a leader who not only thrives herself but also paves the way for others to flourish.

Her words resonate as a powerful message to aspiring women leaders. Her counsel encourages women to embrace their authenticity, recognizing it as their unique strength. By staying true to themselves—their values, passions, and perspectives—they not only foster trust but also establish a profound connection with others. Rakhi underscores that authenticity paves the way for an empowered environment where leadership becomes an inspiration for others, especially the generations of women leaders to come.

With unwavering conviction, Rakhi emboldens women to hold their ground, exhibit resilience, and embrace life’s opportunities. Her ethos is driven by the belief that embracing authenticity is not just a choice but a transformative path. She imparts her wisdom that life’s brevity is too precious for regrets, urging women to reach for their aspirations with confidence.

A Timeless Lesson: ‘You Become What You Believe’

In a poignant conclusion, Rakhi shares a timeless Sanskrit proverb: “Yato Bhave-Tate Bhavati,” translating to “You become what you believe.” With this profound wisdom, she encapsulates the essence of dreaming, aspiring, and achieving. Rakhi’s journey stands as a testament to the transformative power of authenticity, resilience, and the unwavering belief that dreams can indeed become reality.