By Alexis White
As trainers, educators and industry leaders, we are aware that diversity improves outcomes and drives excellence in the world of life sciences. But if we are honest, shouldering the responsibility of creating and implementing a diverse and equitable training practice is demanding and, at times, intimidating.
However, our mission is jeopardized by failure to confront our shared responsibility to respond to the needs of the global community we aim to serve.
So where do we begin? We begin by harnessing the experiences and expertise of the members in our LTEN community, we can create the inclusive lens to facilitate the disruption that world-class learning requires. If we can leverage this inclusive lens in our work to increase the effectiveness of training and learning, addressing health disparities and inequities becomes intuitive.
For inspiration and energy, we turned to some training experts – and women of color – in a “fireside chat” format. Shaneka Storey is senior training manager for oncology at Gilead, and Andrea Penn is associate director of commercial learning and development at Kite Pharma. This article summarizes their thoughts on some crucial issues facing life sciences training.
Shaneka Storey: As educators, we hold a unique role in guiding our colleagues toward new perspectives and fostering inclusivity within our society. By providing opportunities for learning about diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), we not only shape the dynamics within our organizations but also influence broader societal shifts.
The FDA has recently issued guidelines to the life sciences industry, mandating that clinical trials accurately reflect the demographics of the patients who will ultimately receive the approved treatment. This includes prioritizing underrepresented racial and ethnic populations to gain a comprehensive understanding of how different individuals may respond to new treatments.
Shaneka Storey: DEI content development expands our view of the world around us and allows us to better serve our patients. It creates opportunities for our industry and the individuals within it to grow. By engaging in those difficult and perhaps uncomfortable conversations that we have been conditioned to avoid, we are pushed to explore and adopt new perspectives and lived experiences.
Andrea Penn: Our primary focus should always be the patient, and by promoting inclusivity, we empower our teams to find innovative ways to reach and support all patients. DEI content development goes beyond surface-level discussions and challenges us to confront and revise exclusionary beliefs and biases.
Andrea Penn: We can identify underserved populations who are affected by conditions that are treated by our company’s therapeutic options. We can help educate our teams on barriers or beliefs that may prevent early and optimal utilization of our therapies and help our customers to identify solutions for patient access.
Let’s keep the dialogue going and the shared solutions rolling in. What questions might you have around diversity, equity and inclusion? What successes are you seeing in your organization? Please, reach out to me and share with your LTEN community.
Alexis White is a learning specialist with Learn to Win. Email Alexis at email@example.com.
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