Life Sciences is an industry that is constantly striving to be more innovative. Diversity is a topic that is constantly on the agenda of HR departments, equality campaigners and people from underrepresented groups. However, innovation in life sciences and diversity are not always looked at together. With evidence to show that diverse groups are more productive and more innovative in their thinking, it is important to understand why, and what the Life Sciences field can do to improve diversity.
We hear a lot about diversity, but what does it actually mean? Whilst most people think of diversity in terms of demographics, this is only part of what diversity can mean. When we say ‘diversity’, most people instantly think about ‘inherent diversity’. This relates to the demographic characteristics of people, such as gender, age, race, sexual orientation, disability status etc., and many of these characteristics are protected against forms of discrimination.
An aspect of diversity that doesn’t tend to get a lot of focus is ‘acquired diversity’. This relates to the diversity that is gained, and this can be through education, life or work experiences. Every person has a different experience as they progress through life, and this is a valuable part of diversity that is often overlooked.
There has been a lot of evidence to show that diversity in the workplace is beneficial and has positive impacts on the workforce, innovation, and productivity. Many industries, however, are still not diverse, and the Life Sciences field is one. While many organisations are committed to equality and have plans to implement equality and diversity strategies, the field is still currently lagging behind many industries in terms of diversity in areas such as gender and ethnicity. This means the industry is missing out on the benefits of having a diverse workforce striving for innovation.
One of the most simple reasons why diversity is important for innovation is that if an industry breaks down barriers, and has a genuinely diverse workforce, they can attract talented individuals from a much wider range of places. Diversity within an industry means that talent can be recruited from a much larger talent pool, meaning the best of the best can be found.
A further benefit of increasing diversity within the life science industry is that as soon as you begin increasing diversity, this will have a knock-on effect of improving the reputation of the industry. If people from underrepresented groups, or with different backgrounds and skills, see a more diverse workforce, they are more likely to be attracted to the industry. For organisations, if their reputation is that they are inclusive and value diversity, the top talent in the industry will be drawn to work for them. Taking the first steps in addressing an imbalance in diversity is the only way to start making improvements.
When it comes to innovation, a range of ideas and perspectives are needed. When a group is largely homogeneous, they are likely to have fairly similar experiences and backgrounds. Whilst everyone is different, if the group is not diverse, there will not be a range of ideas being brought to the table.
Studies have shown that in groups of people are similar, and there is a tendency to agree with each other. When a group has a more diverse membership, there is more likely to be different perspectives, disagreements, health debates. This is what is needed for innovation. Without different viewpoints that come from people having different life experiences, there is no spark that ignites new ways of thinking and working.
Unfortunately, increasing diversity in an organisation or an industry is not a simple task. Most businesses see the benefit of increasing diversity within the workplace and will often create a strategy in order to try and increase their diversity. However, there is a misconception that increasing diversity can be achieved simply by hiring people from underrepresented groups. This can help, but it will not address the entire issue.
Hiring people from a range of different backgrounds is no good if they don’t stay in their roles or don’t feel that their ideas are valued. It is important to create a culture of inclusivity where workplaces are inviting and welcoming to people from all walks of life.
If you want to find excellent, diverse talent to help drive innovation within your organisation, get in touch with Xplore today.Back to NewsView jobs