AN INTERVIEW WITH JONATHAN WITT, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT OF BUSINESS OPERATIONS, GENENTECH
Why was it critical for your organization to be involved in the Gender Parity Collaborative?
Many of Genentech’s earliest gender diversity efforts were shaped by HBA’s inaugural EDGE Leadership study, and a decade later we’ve seen firsthand the dramatic impact gender diversity can have on patients, society and our business. The world is rapidly changing and the medical challenges we’re trying to solve are getting more complex. If we are going to do now what our patients need next, we need diversity of representation, thought and experience.
As the first industry consortium working to accelerate systemic change, what will lead the Collaborative to measurable positive outcomes?
With HBA’s four decades of experience and broad-based participation from the industry, the Collaborative is ideally suited to compile data on the current state of gender diversity and its impact, as well as best practices, emerging best practices and lessons. A resource with those elements is a powerful tool for people interested in catalyzing meaningful and measurable change within their respective organizations.
Of what current company gender parity initiative are you most proud?
In 2007, former CEO Ian Clark drew attention to a shortfall of women moving into the leadership ranks at Genentech, and we’ve made it a business priority to address that disparity ever since. We set a 10-year strategic imperative to identify and remove barriers to the advancement of women in senior leadership positions to increase the pool of women qualified for such positions by 50%. I’m proud to say we have achieved it, across all leadership levels. We’re committed to sustaining that diversity, and to advancing racial and ethnic diversity at Genentech as well.
What makes this consortium unique compared to other initiatives/ investments happening in your own organization?
Speaking loudly with a unified voice has the ability to drive more rapid, deep and enduring change. Also, sharing best practices across the industry, pressure testing each other’s thinking and creating a cross-industry publication would provide a unique opportunity to help to “raise all boats” when it comes to gender diversity.
How has your company benefited from the Collaborative discussion forums with like-minded industry peers?
Learning what others have done, been challenged with and succeeded in inspires us. We also believe it’s important to make a positive impact on society and the industry when we can, and being a part of the Collaborative allows us to add the process Genentech followed to achieve our gender diversity goals to the collective wisdom of the group.
Why has it been necessary to create the Collaborative—this first ever industry consortium?
Helping patients address health challenges will require increasingly innovative solutions. The Collaborative will help attract the best minds to our industry, and reinforce an environment where everyone can bring their full potential to bear in the interest of improving human health. We all have an obligation to do what is in the best interest of patients, and having appropriate diversity within our organizations and in our clinical trials is a must for that to be realized. We are working to accelerate innovation for patients and having diversity of thought in our organizations is imperative for that to occur.
For companies who have yet to join, what do you think they’re missing out on?
The Collaborative is an excellent opportunity for companies to show the world, would-be applicants and their own employees that they are an organization where all voices are heard and valued, and that fundamentally believes in gender equity. Companies who choose not to join will miss out on being part of the community of leaders that are creating and sustaining a legacy of gender diversity in the industry. Ultimately, companies could also find themselves at a disadvantage in a world that is increasingly showing us gender diversity. Diversity and inclusion are critical to helping us address the complex medical issues that our patients are counting on us to solve.
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