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Talent, Diversity & Inclusion, Life Sciences

While diversity is the acceptance of differences inclusion leverages those differences

Posted by on 12 October 2018
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This week's diversity and inclusion interview features Karen Albertson, Global Business Director at 3M SPSD, who was a featured panelist at the Diversity and Inclusion evening at Biotech Week Boston this past September.

Karen shared her thoughts about the importance of diversity and inclusion and what it means for the biotech industry.

Informa Connect: What is the one thing you wanted the audience to leave with after attending the diversity and inclusion evening?

Karen Albertson: I would challenge the audience to look beyond what they ‘see’ for diversity and inclusion as there is much below the surface for each person.  Inclusion really is what we should strive for—supporting and valuing everyone to ‘come as they are’ to work everyday and to work in an inclusive environment so everyone can give their best.

IC: When we talk about diversity and inclusion across an organization, what does this look like? How do people define D&I issues?

KA: A definition for diversity is the ‘acceptance of differences’ and inclusion is the ‘leveraging of difference’.  Many people focus on diversity and how it looks in an organization takes many forms: 1) does our team(s) reflect the global workplace? 2) Are openings required to have diverse candidates? These are two examples of how you can see if diversity is a priority in an organization.

However, it should go beyond this and leverage these differences—do we use our diverse organization to help us innovate in new ways, do we use it to help marketing plans/campaigns reach targeted audiences in new ways?  For example, if we want to target generational messaging, it helps to have people from that target market help frame the messaging.  If we want to innovate in new spaces, do we work to have diverse industry backgrounds to help solve issues? An example could be flexible manufacturing in pharma could benefit from hiring some talented engineers from automotive, etc. Think outside the box, think outside of what ‘we see’.

IC: As an industry, where have we made strides?  What should we address immediately to improve workplace culture that would make a significant difference? 

KA: The example above on flexible manufacturing is an area we could challenge ourselves.  We need to raise the bar on more women at higher levels in the industry—require diverse slates as a start.  Just a few ideas to start.  Everyone should try to meet with an ELG that they don’t belong to - in my case I met with our Pride LGBT group - to understand their perspectives.

IC: How do you think about D&I as it relates to long term success of an organization?

KA: I believe D&I is essential as our global community is truly global and diverse.  We can’t afford to not support and be inclusive of diverse talent—this is a competitive weapon or a competitive weakness.  The opportunity is in front of us to make it a core strength in our business.

 Related articles:

Diversity and Inclusion a hot topic at Biotech Week Boston
Biotechs must focus on inclusion to heighten diversity
"Achieving diversity and inclusion requires engagement from all of us" - Dr. Joan Reede

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