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Biocom California Newsletter Article

Biocom California’s DE&I Task Force: We Must Act Now to Create Change

Biocom California’s DE&I Task Force: We Must Act Now to Create Change

  • 2021-10-12T19:00:00.000+0000
  • California
  • Author: Jennifer Landress

In June of 2020, a diverse group of industry leaders gathered to discuss the racial reckoning and advance progress around the same two primary questions, what CAN we do and what SHOULD we do? As potential solutions to these questions were proposed and debated, one thought was unanimous – the recognition that something MUST change. In tandem, the Biocom California Institute conducted an industry wide survey with the goal of gathering data that could provide a framework for an actionable, life science-specific DE&I plan and to analyze the industry’s current DEI landscape and 335 California life science companies participated in the study.

These individual conversations, coupled with the survey findings, provided the basic framework for Biocom California and Biocom California Institute to create the Biocom California DE&I Task Force.

The Task Force, co-chaired by Rich Pascoe, CEO, Histogen and Chairman of the Biocom California Board of Directors and Carin Canale-Theakston, CEO, Canale Communications and Vice Chair of the Board, includes over 30 leaders from throughout the state of California. These leaders collected monthly over the course of the next year, to listen, to learn and to share with one another. Perspectives were discussed, personal stories recounted, company best practices were shared, and consensus was reached. As representatives of the life science industry of California, it was clear that:

  • Not everybody or every company is in the same place in their journey. Whatever course we recommended, had to be relevant to all stages of the journey.
  • Belonging is critical and expanding the circle can create an inclusive environment for others to belong.
  • As an industry, we need to do a better job recruiting from diverse and underrepresented populations
  • As an industry, we need to do a better job in mentoring future generations and future leaders.
  • As an industry, we need to broaden the message
  • We need to showcase what is currently underway and provide opportunities for others to learn and implement change within their own organizations

The Task Force committed to creating measurable change and chose key focus areas that would have meaningful impact. This included the creation of the Biocom California Member DEI Pledge, the creation of the Resource Center, and additional initiatives focused on creating and expanding internship and mentorship opportunities.

It is up to all of us to be active allies and play a role in creating an inclusive environment where all individuals can thrive. Working with Mariama Boney at Achieve More, we assembled a training for the DEI Task Force entitled 'Advancing DEI through Allyship'. The session examined the multifaceted dynamics of diversity, equity, and inclusion by advancing allyship and explored common issues such as power, privilege, cultural competence, awareness, sensitivity, and humility. We explored the role that identity and intersectionality have in our work to serve as catalysts and leaders for change. Biocom California board members will participate in customized version of this meaningful training later this month.

We believe change must begin now. The Task Force continues to meet monthly. If you are interested in getting involved or learning more, please let us know!