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Is ED&I Key to Overcoming Your Cell and Gene Therapy Recruitment Challenges?

Representation is slowly improving in the life sciences industry.

Diversity and inclusion are higher on the agenda for life sciences businesses than ever before, with research indicating that 71% of healthcare companies’ C-suite leaders believe that new working practices will benefit women’s career trajectories.

The broader picture of diversity and inclusion in the industry isn’t so clear cut, however, meaning that ED&I is a key area requiring change that also represents a significant opportunity for those trying to overcome cell and gene therapy recruitment challenges.

There is a large, untapped pool of talent that is often overlooked due to recruitment processes that don’t have equality, diversity, and inclusion (ED&I) in mind.

Let’s look at how ED&I could be the key to overcoming your cell and gene therapy recruitment challenges.

The current outlook

It’s important to first acknowledge the picture of ED&I in the industry before considering how you can capitalise on this to overcome cell and gene therapy recruitment challenges.

A report by the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) found that:

  • Gender parity is almost equal, with companies reporting that 49% of their total employees are women and 51% are men, though this decreases at higher levels of the organisation.

  • Representation for employees of colour continues to be an issue, with people of colour making up 38% of all employees but only 24% of executive teams and 28% of CEOs.

  • Only 4 out of 10 small companies have a stated goal to create an inclusive environment, and only 27% have a public commitment to diversity.

Though there has been positive progress in the industry regarding ED&I, research also indicates that compared to the technology sector, the life sciences industry is lagging in the following areas:

  • Encouraging senior management to act as role models/champions (43% vs 32%).

  • Paying careful attention to employees’ individual working styles and adapting approaches accordingly.

So, how can you build a more diverse and inclusive workforce to overcome cell and gene therapy recruitment challenges?

Revamp your recruitment process

The best way to make your approach to ED&I stronger is to revamp it using the following framework:

  • Analyse: What does existing data show you about who is applying for roles, being offered roles, in leadership, or leaving the business? These are key touchpoints in determining gaps that need to be addressed in your ED&I strategy.

  • Set goals: Setting clear short and long-term goals for accountability is key, including deadlines for the achievement of these goals (e.g., increase the percentage of a demographic in leadership roles by a specific date).

  • Implement: When it comes to your recruitment process, implementing ED&I means including more inclusive language in job advertisements, training hiring managers on ED&I for the interview and onboarding process, and ensuring staff have a greater awareness of the importance of inclusion.

The above steps will ensure that your recruitment process adequately represents your organisational values and acts as a competitive differentiator.

Raise awareness within your organisation

Making an effort to adjust your recruitment process is a great start, but there also needs to be some awareness raised within your organisation about your approach to ED&I to both keep your strategy on track and for accountability.

One of the most common ways that life sciences organisations do this is through ED&I training programmes, as they can be easily incorporated into the wider ED&I strategy.

However, it’s important to first have an understanding of your organisation’s aims for raising awareness.

Most commonly, organisations want to raise awareness to create a more positive and inclusive environment, be more aware of unconscious bias, and promote ED&I as part of workplace culture.

Employees should be made aware of which ED&I goals your organisation has and how they can contribute towards them to keep them in the loop and engaged.

Adapt and improve

The cell and gene therapy space isn’t as mature as other areas of life sciences, which means that the skills that are in demand for current roles can change, and the workforce will adapt over time as well.

With this in mind, ED&I strategies need to be flexible and adaptable too.

Once the recruitment process has been revamped, it’s essential that focus groups, surveys and assessments are set up periodically to review the progress of these changes.

In other words, employees across the organisation can give feedback on what is and isn’t working so that the strategy can be improved continually.

Data is an integral element of this, as referring back to data gathered during the recruitment process will make it easier to spot gaps and deviations from your organisation’s goals to keep the strategy on track.

But why is ED&I so essential in overcoming cell and gene therapy recruitment challenges?

The main challenge facing the cell and gene therapy sector isn’t growth. It’s the talent pipeline.

Cell and gene therapy talent is in high demand and short supply, which means the war for talent is far from over in the industry.

A limited pool of candidates means that life sciences organisations have to consider the ways in which they can expand their pool of talent, which an ED&I strategy can help towards.

Having a diverse workforce means that organisations can continue to expand their requirements for roles with greater flexibility, giving many previously underrepresented groups a chance to be a part of an innovative sector during a period of high investment and growth.

Get in touch

Overcoming hiring challenges whilst also adjusting your ED&I approach can seem like a daunting task, but Panda can help to make your recruitment process more efficient, diverse and inclusive when searching for cell and gene therapy candidates.

Panda is trusted by leading life sciences companies worldwide to provide the very best contingent talent and deliver seamless candidate experiences.

For more information on what we can do for your organisation’s ED&I strategy, get in touch today.