Diversity & Inclusion in Pharma
Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) is a hot topic across many industries right now and recent roundtables have enabled leaders in life sciences to share ideas on transforming company culture, fostering greater diversity, and acting on fast-evolving social mandates.
EDI has moved to centre stage throughout society and industry. Building a strong internal culture, implementing effective means of measuring progress, creating greater diversity, prioritising EDI in recruitment and identifying pharma’s corporate social responsibility are themes that standout.
We’ve sifted through a raft of recent roundups to offer up a bite size summary of the best practices, to recognise and improve EDI and to ensure the sector better reflects the communities it serves.
Here’s our top 12 tips…
How your EDI strategy manifests in decision making and leadership styles has a huge impact on perception and reputation. EDI impacts recruitment, marketing, reputation and stakeholder engagement alongside company culture and day to day operations. Getting your approach right will lead to company wide buy-in that is both meaningful and impactful.
Make others accountable
Consider your EDI governance. Ask yourself who is accountable – the board, leaders, stakeholders or your employees and resource groups? For EDI to be truly embedded it is everyone’s responsibility.
Lead with purpose
How can executives get people to see that EDI is a core part of their leadership if they do not see it embodied in their own leaders? By evaluating your leadership and ensuring EDI is a core part of your recruitment, management, marketing, development, and operations you will instil a strong internal culture where EDI is recognised as a priority.
Meaningful shared values that can be demonstrated daily are a powerful way to demonstrate EDI priorities. Values that encourage people to grow by sharing, caring for other employees, daring to innovate, and a commitment to success are mirrored right across life sciences and the outsourcing space. When values are combined with bottom-up and top-down tactics, company cultures are able to ‘breathe’ and people feel able to bring their whole self to work each day.
The important P (people)
People are key to everything. Recruiting the right people and retaining them allows you to grow a people driven business. By fostering a culture ‘where the best candidate is recruited’ and ‘the best ideas win’ helps to attract, retain, motivate, and empower the best people. Diversity of thought is critical to ensuring a cohesive and balanced culture.
Take your time to develop a strategic plan and spend the same amount of time instilling it in your culture. Empower employees to be on the same page, and work together to make things happen, especially during difficult times. A strategic plan is not just a piece of paper, it’s worth nothing unless you have a culture that can implement and believe in it.
When your culture is authentic, it becomes a powerful differentiator and helps to set you apart in the industry. Embrace your differences, celebrate your uniqueness and help others to learn from those differences.
Advance your agenda
Be clear about what you stand for and believe in. Actively participate in your beliefs, becoming a central cornerstone in the community/communities you support. Don’t just say you’re inclusive, be inclusive. Reward, recognise and dedicate time to EDI inside and outside your business.
It’s one thing to have goals, but those goals need to be measurable in order to ensure positive growth. Without keeping score, companies can start off on the wrong foot, sending a message that EDI issues don’t really matter. Remember not to solely focus on hard metrics. Softer elements are just as critical to quantify, such as a sense of culture. By regularly asking simple questions such as ‘do employees feel that diversity, equity, and inclusion are important’, and ‘do they feel that the company is transparent in communicating the importance of those things’ can be very revealing. Track the development of these areas over time to ensure that the company is making progress and not just standing still.
Moments of truth
By understanding when and why people either self-select or feel that they’re not selected for promotions or more senior levels of leadership, your company can glean real insight and can work harder to improve retention and progression. What makes people not feel included, not put themselves forward, not get the right mentoring, not get the right leadership experiences? Creating a clear career roadmap can help to create confidence, offer support and mentoring opportunities and address any imbalances in senior leadership teams.
Remove conscious inclusion
There can be a natural tendency for people to hire candidates with similar backgrounds to their own. Leaders should be held accountable for being consciously inclusive. By reviewing and changing hiring practices your company should actively encourage people from diverse backgrounds to want to work for your organisation. And when people do hire people different from themselves, they should monitor how they mentor them, to ensure there is no bias.
Pharma’s social responsibility
The industry is keen to drive EDI initiatives throughout society – seeing the responsibility as an extension to their obligations around culture and an extension to the global conversation. With diverse talent pools coming from academia and other industries it’s important for life sciences and pharma to be clear about their commitment to EDI to educate and inform future generations of professionals. The responsibility also cuts across the supply chain and your organisations networks and customers. Who you work with and how you work with them is imperative to your reputation and speaks volumes about your commitment to EDI.
And there you have it! The road to realising true EDI within life sciences and society is no easy mission, but with a dedicated, clear plan that has measurable, actionable goals, companies can begin to make a difference.
Engaging with different communities is hugely important to improving diversity within the industry. There are no shortcuts but the sector and the people within it are on a journey and it feels like we’re heading in the right direction.
EDI is not a box ticking exercise, it takes commitment from the top, but leaders alone can’t make the level of change needed. Sustained engagement among all employees, and an investment of time and money is what will make a real difference.
By prioritising people of different ages, abilities, ethnicities, genders and sexual orientation we can build an industry that attracts, builds, supports, retains and develops a more diverse workforce.
A powerful STEM campaign stated: “If you can’t see it, you can’t be it”.