Is diversity the answer to the talent crisis in Life Sciences?

For us at GenSearch diversity is particularly important in several ways. With our international team we see on a daily basis the advantages of a diverse team. And we see that this works on the basis of a small or medium-sized company just as it does in a large company. The principles apply to our own work but also affect our service for the diverse customers we have. So whenever the topic comes to talent crisis or skills shortage, we have ways to solve it. Because it’s usually not the shortage of people or even the shortage of talent, it’s mostly an inability to leverage the right candidates. And here we are with the question: are you leveraging all available talent or are you leaving valuable resources idle?

You don’t need diversity? Think again!

What do you need a diverse workforce for? As Kim Ramko, EY Global Life Sciences Advisory Services Leader, put it:

"As life sciences companies transform themselves to meet the expectations of a rapidly changing landscape, they must reconsider their existing recruitment models to attract (…) diverse groups to their workforce. This means making it a priority at the board level and investing in initiatives to achieve a truly diverse workforce."

This mentions some very important aspects that indicate why diversity pays off. One is the rapidly changing business landscape, the fusion of different fields to create innovation. It’s much more likely that change and development within the business or industry can be mastered with a diverse workforce. They provide more different ideas and more “thinking outside the box”. Several studies have shown that diversity not only drives innovation and change but also leads to measurable results in business growth and financial outcomes.

Leveraging diversity

Yes okay, sounds like it makes sense right? But how is it actually done? And there is a reason why only a small percentage of Life Science companies are already making a formal effort to support diversity. Because changes need to happen in how to attract, engage and promote talent. And that does not only mean high potentials, that also – or even mostly – means the diversity of thought and experience within the leadership teams. Diversity on an Executive level is extremely important here as well. Often this means that the expectations towards high-level candidates need to be broadened to include more diverse talent that can bring more dimensions to the table and to the team. And – don’t get me wrong – that’s a good thing!

Company culture plays a very important role as well. Because you don’t only need to attract diverse talent, you also need to keep them and keep them invested. Meaning, you need to establish a culture in which people dare and want to come up with and articulate ideas that are disruptive and innovative – and for that they need equal airtime and an atmosphere where ideas are welcome. That means incorporating diversity not only for the sake of “checking the box” but for the real benefits of it. After all, customers/patients are usually diverse as well and how better to understand the customers/patients than with a diverse workforce of familiar minds?

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