Written by: Hsin Loke
Last week I was part of a panel at BioTrinity to discuss “Future Proofing Your Business – EDI strategy”. My role on the panel, chaired by Wendy Tindsley, was to bring the perspective of the small growing company, alongside my fellow panellists: Matt Shaw-Clark representing recruiters, and Oliver Sexton who brought an investors perspective.
As part of the preparations, I reflected on how lucky I am to be part of OMass – where we are intentional about creating a positive culture and have now embedded DE&I as part of our Company Values and People Strategy. While we had previously taken some positive steps (eg. gender pay gap review, Insights profile workshop, hybrid working practices), we now have a framework to plan coherent and targeted actions going forward.
Prior to OMass, I worked at GSK, a publicly listed global pharmaceutical company. The pros and cons of being a small company vs large corporation also came to mind – the “super-tanker vs speed boat” analogy, familiar to many.
Large companies have more resources and the ripple effect of changes can be substantial. Positive change can benefit significant numbers of employees across the company, and PLCs have louder voices across the industry and economy. But scale can make change very complex and painfully slow to execute.
As a small company, we are resource constrained. We like freebies – like the excellent DE&I e-learning shared by Microsoft ; we also learn from others across the biotech community through initiatives such as the Bioindustry and Investor Inclusion Group (#BIIG). We are, however, agile and can pilot change quickly and learn as we go. It took only a couple of weeks to decide and update our HR system, from the obligatory “Male/Female” gender identity field to be more inclusive, as well as allowing employees to update their chosen pronoun. But change is still a journey of small steps – we are still waiting on how we can make the same change within the recruit module….
What about the future proofing question?
On a macro scale, McKinsey’s diversity reports confirm that year on year, diverse and inclusive companies are more successful. This is true for gender, ethnic and cultural diversity, and across different industries.
On a micro scale, I thought of my children’s jigsaw puzzle arguments. One likes edges and random sections. The other strongly prefers placing pieces progressively. Of course, if they would only stop arguing, the quickest way to success is to work together and benefit from both approaches.
For OMass, success is discovering new therapies for our patients, with many complex scientific challenges and puzzles to solve along the way. Having a diverse and inclusive team will future proof us – we will be more innovative and successful for our patients.
We have made a strong start – our current team of 45 is ~50:50 male:female representing ~20 countries of origin. But there’s always more to learn and improve. Besides, it is just much more fun to be on this journey with a diverse and inclusive team!
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