It’s the second year into Roche’s Genentech’s five-year plan of increasing diversity and inclusion both within the company and out in the broader field of healthcare. So far, the results are encouraging.
The pharma released its second annual D&I report at the end of March showing measurable improvements in all the company’s intended areas—research, in-house staffing and increasing outside spend on diverse suppliers.
“One of the philosophies that I have, is real change starts at home,” Quita Highsmith, Genentech’s chief diversity officer, said. “We as a company are focused on serving the increasingly diverse world around us—whether that’s patients, our employees, our suppliers that we are engaged with. I think it’s important for companies to be results focused—to have some transparency. We’re really trying to make change, we must be intentional, and we must be bold.”
That intention includes a push in the creation and implementation of diverse clinical studies by casting the net wider as to where they find participants. The initiative also goes so far as to provide volunteers with transportation to the trials, which Highsmith says has helped increase retention.
In its own house, Genentech has increased Asian, Black and Hispanic/Latinx representation across all levels of the company: 53% of employees identify as a person of color. There are actually more directors and officers who identify as a woman—also 53%—than as a man. Pay parity remains stable with no discernible difference between women and men or people of color and white employees.
In the wider world of the industry, the company increased its patronage of diverse suppliers by nearly 20%, spending $879 million of its $1 billion goal. In addition, Genentech asked its suppliers to pay it forward as well, with 88% of those companies now implementing their own D&I programs.
Despite these wins, Highsmith isn’t ready to just sit back and bask in the success.
“We still have to double down, we still have to stay focused, we still have to be intentional, we still have to be bold in order to ensure that we are going to get to the finish line. All Genentech employees are responsible for creating an inclusive culture and have to be aware of the barriers to advancement faced by employees of color, faced by the patients of color—so our work is not done. I am pleased to say that we have taken some steps forward, but we still have a long way to go.”