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From New Hire to “Top 100 LGBT+ Future Leader” in Five Years: Sam’s Story From New Hire to “Top 100 LGBT+ Future Leader” in Five Years: Sam’s Story

Pride Month is all about inclusion, which has been a through line in Sam Paton's bright young career. How the London-based Commercial Strategy Manager went from university graduate to new hire to “Top 100 LGBT+ Future Leader”—all in a five-year span—is the story of how you can, too.

Building a “Top 100 LGBT+ Future Leader”

What does it take to be named one of the “Top 100 LGBT+ Future Leaders”? In Sam’s case, it started with leading the largest-ever Pride community initiative in the history of Johnson & Johnson U.K., one that continues to directly impact the health and safety of LGBTQIA+ young people.

As for how he accomplished all of that within five years of joining our company, the real question might be: What were the conditions that made it possible?


Sam Paton, Commercial Strategy Manager

His answer is unequivocal: Open&Out, the employee resource group (ERG) at Johnson & Johnson for the LGBTQIA+ community.

“Working with an ERG like Open&Out really helps you see what you can achieve and gives you the tools to go do it," he reflected. “It’s a great way to discover what you’re capable of."

Prior to joining Johnson & Johnson, mind you, Sam had never even heard of ERGs (you might be in the same boat). Quickly, though, he came to realize how important they were in making a difference, both within Johnson & Johnson and in the wider community.

“We’re a community of like-minded volunteers,” he explained, "who are working hard toward a cause we’re passionate about. We work together to ensure that everyone feels like they belong and can be their authentic selves. If I had to summarize what we do at Open&Out in one sentence, it would be this: We’re a group of open-minded people who set out to make a difference to employees, communities or consumers, now and in the future.”

Another thing Sam is quick to point out: Open&Out isn’t just for LGBTQIA+ employees at Johnson & Johnson.

Quite the opposite. “Our allies are a central part of the team. ERGs aren’t exclusive, they depend on people with diverse backgrounds and experiences. I would even go as far to say that ‘allyship’ might be the most critical part of our mission today. We couldn’t do what we’re doing, or make the impact we’re making, without allies.”

And as we'll see, impact has been something of a theme for Sam of late.

Creating Safe Spaces for LGBTQIA+ Young People: Sam’s Mission

Some leaders are said to be “born that way,” but a lot more of them are made. It's a safe bet that Sam identifies with the latter.

“When I first started volunteering with Open&Out, I felt like I was really pushing myself outside of my comfort zone. I’d be working with stakeholders in HR, leading digital projects with charities, sponsoring recruitment events and giving talks at universities to students about life at Johnson & Johnson. Looking back on it now, I think situations like those helped me spot opportunities, learn from other inspiring people and ultimately define my path. Ever since joining the ERG, I felt my confidence go from strength to strength.”

Sam’s progress with Open&Out is practically a case study on that point.

“We wanted to use our Skin Health brands as a force for good in the community, connecting authentically with consumers through Pride,” he explained. “My role and network in the U.K. Consumer Health team gave me the skills and support needed to bring this to life. I’ve planned campaigns with retailers before and applied this knowledge to Pride, for example.”

Speaking of teams, Sam added, “It wasn’t just me working on this campaign alone. We had a phenomenal cross-functional team driving it forward. Working together helped us deliver it for retailers and consumers at speed.”

But having Sam's hand on the wheel wasn’t the only thing different about the Pride campaign this time around. Equally new—to extend the metaphor—was where he wanted to go.

“It was different from what we had done in the past,” Sam conceded. “We decided to make a single donation, regardless of sales, to connect with our consumers in an authentic way and show our commitment to the community. We partnered with the biggest health and beauty retailers in the U.K. in order to bring this to life in stores. And with most Pride parades canceled due to the pandemic, we moved our message online, finding new ways to bring the campaign to life and sending a powerful message that no young person has to choose between having a safe home and being who they are.”

The new approach was for the benefit of akt, an organization dedicated to supporting LGBTQIA+ young people facing homelessness or living in hostile environments across the U.K. The organization creates safe environments where everyone can be their authentic selves, which is something we care about deeply at Johnson & Johnson. It’s part of what Our Credo is all about.

To date, the three-year campaign has donated more than $110,000 to support young LGBTQIA+ people.

Sam’s great work aligns with our mission in another way as well: That is, we’re advancing bold, innovative ideas every day at Johnson & Johnson, so when people come up with novel approaches, we recognize, celebrate and reward them. In the eyes of Anthony Dunn, co-leader of the Open&Out Chapter in the U.K., however, Sam’s efforts merited a little bit of extra commendation. So he submitted Sam’s name for consideration to OUTstanding, the organization behind the annual "Top 100 LGBT+ Future Leaders" list.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Join Sam (and the Rest of Us) Today

Ready to team up with Sam, positively impact the future of health and join an inclusive community where you can be your authentic self—a place where everyone belongs? If so, be sure to check out all of the open positions we’re hiring for today.

Plus, you should consider signing up for our Global Talent Hub, as well. It’s a great way to stay in touch and get updates about jobs that might interest you in the future. Finally, to learn more about diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) at Johnson & Johnson, you can check out our annual DEI Impact Review.

Happy Pride Month!

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