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How Can Life Sciences Companies Create a Meaningful D&I Strategy

22 February 2021

By Jay Freeman

How Can Life Sciences Companies Create a Meaningful D&I Strategy

Life sciences companies are becoming increasingly committed to diversity and inclusion as business priorities. So why aren’t current measures moving the needle enough?

In last week’s life sciences blog, we explored the undeniable benefits that diversity and inclusion bring to the life sciences. But there’s still significant work to do to embrace D&I in the sector fully. 

In this week’s blog, we’re looking at how life sciences companies can create a meaningful D&I strategy and ignite the changes the sector needs.

What do we mean by meaningful?

It’s not what you say - it’s how you do it. 

A meaningful diversity and inclusion strategy is one that drives long-term change - not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because the entire business wants to do it. 

Specifically, a meaningful D&I strategy is one that is:

  • Sustainable: able to achieve long-term change. 

  • Supported: committed to by the entire organisation. 

  • Measurable: delivering specific outcomes. 

  • Embedded: weaved into your business culture. 

How to create a meaningful D&I strategy

1. Involve everyone

We all know that “change starts at the top,” and while this is unquestionably true, a meaningful D&I strategy requires company-wide commitment. 

And the best way to involve everyone? Diversity champions. 

Diversity champions are people throughout the organisation responsible for and passionate about keeping your D&I strategy alive. Importantly, there should be a representative at every level, including board, management, and team members. 

2. Conduct a D&I audit

Knowing the current state of diversity and inclusion in your organisation is essential for creating a successful D&I strategy. 

Conduct a D&I audit using existing demographic, engagement and performance data, alongside a dedicated D&I survey. 

The main metrics you want to uncover include:

  • Diversity across the organisation (e.g. the number of female board members)

  • Obstacles to achieving diversity (e.g. certain practices or policies)

  • Attitudes towards diversity (how much cultural change is required?)

  • Commitment to change (this can help you identify your D&I champions) 

3. Implement change

Next, your D&I strategy should seek to overcome the problems and obstacles identified in your audit. 

There are three key areas to focus on:

Recruitment

Diversity and inclusion at the recruitment stage determines who applies to your vacancies and who enters your workforce - it’s a huge factor of business diversity. The key areas to consider are:

  • Recruitment agencies: are you working with a diversity-led life sciences recruiter?

  • Job advertisements: do they attract a wide range of candidates from diverse backgrounds?

  • Candidate shortlisting: are your shortlisting processes free of bias and objectively scrutinised?

  • Interviews: are interviews conducted by a diverse board that uses evidence-based scoring?

Retaining

Attracting a diverse workforce is only great if you can keep them. Your D&I strategy should cover onboarding and retention practices, including:

  • Pay and benefits: equal pay and benefits. 

  • Policies: inclusive policies such as flexible working and parental leave. 

  • Adjustments: giving everyone an equal opportunity to perform. 

Promoting

A meaningful D&I strategy should support all employees’ personal and professional development, regardless of their gender, race, or disabilities. This includes learning and development, promotional opportunities, and performance feedback. 

3. Embed D&I into your business

Your D&I strategy is only as good as your business culture. 

Ways to embed D&I into your business include:

  • Communication: speaking about your D&I strategy, initiatives and achievements regularly (e.g. in newsletters, company updates, one-to-one meetings and team conferences.)

  • Sponsorships: pairing executive leaders with diverse employees to open up their network, identify opportunities and accelerate career development. 

  • Training: running regular training on D&I-themed topics, including unconscious bias, negotiation, and interview techniques. 

  • Celebration: raising awareness by celebrating your D&I wins. 

Conclusion

Implementing a meaningful D&I strategy doesn’t have to be hard, but it requires time, effort and dedication. 

We hope the above tips give you food for thought when creating your D&I strategy. And, if you want more support in creating a fair and inclusive recruitment process, get in touch

Next week, we’re looking at D&I from the other side of the coin and covering what diversity and inclusion mean for candidates. See you there!

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