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My journey with diversity, equity and inclusion

Updated: Jul 18

Words by Davidek Herron

In his latest column for GOLD, Roche’s Davidek Herron offers his insights on diversity, equity and inclusion in the pharmaceutical industry today

As a black man from the inner city who has taken an atypical path into a leadership role at Roche – via a career in professional basketball – I am excited to share my thoughts on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I). While the topic is far too broad to cover in a single column, it’s something that particularly resonates with me, and I’m keen to share key learnings from my journey so far, recognising that there’s still so much more to do and learn.

Why is DE&I important to me?

DE&I represents far more than statistics, policies and programmes. It is fundamental to creating a working environment that promotes wellbeing, innovation and success. For companies to be successful in their DE&I efforts, it is necessary to implement policies that support a diverse range of individuals, such as LGBTQI+ colleagues, faith-based groups, colleagues with disabilities and neurodiverse individuals. However, our awareness of the intersectionality and breadth of DE&I groups should be constantly evolving as the make-up of our societies changes.

Create benchmarks

Data and insights are incredibly valuable for designing DE&I policies and evaluating progress. By regularly tracking metrics such as gender ratios and retention rates, a company can measure how well it is meeting its commitment to fostering an inclusive work environment, promoting health equity and transforming society. It’s one thing to attract people from different backgrounds, but it’s another to provide them with a work environment in which they feel truly encouraged and valued. Evaluating data, continuously assessing whether targets are being met and committing to sharing results are fundamental to creating a system of accountability and driving DE&I maturity and progress.

Build a representative workforce

I feel privileged to work in a company that advocates for a workforce that is reflective of the societies we serve. It’s not often that I can go to a professional event and look around the room and see many people who look like me. I believe that by drawing upon a wide base of talent and experience, companies can be successful in all their endeavours. Yet, often children in certain communities are unaware that this sector exists or is an option to pursue, leading to an abundance of untapped potential. Unlocking this talent is not only valuable for them, but also for the advancement of the healthcare ecosystem overall.

Inclusive leaders are aware of their own biases and seek out other perspectives

Lead from the front

One insight that I have gleaned from my own experiences is that inclusive leaders are aware of their own biases and actively seek out other perspectives in order to collaborate more effectively. It’s important to keep communication channels open and two-way, rather than top down. One way to do this, and one that I actively encourage, is to invite colleagues to meetings and encourage them to challenge my thinking to ensure that everyone is working towards a common vision.

Fail forward

Committing to DE&I objectives and achieving success is a continuous process. Its complexity, often with a strong emotional component, means that the road to achieving DE&I excellence is not always smooth. It’s important that we continue to celebrate the visible and invisible differences of our people and value the richness of ideas, views and contributions that diversity brings. DE&I is a journey, not a destination, and it’s important that we learn from our successes and failures and ensure we are committed to championing DE&I for our people and patients.

This feature appears in GOLD 27 – read the full issue here.

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