The Pistoia Alliance, a global, not-for-profit alliance that advocates for greater collaboration in life sciences R&D, has expanded its popular Women in STEM Leadership Programme to include other underrepresented communities in a new 2023 initiative. The three-month programme brings together leaders from life science and large pharmaceutical companies to offer an excellent opportunity for participants to network and learn how they can better support D&I initiatives within their teams and companies. Longer term, the Alliance aims to build an alumni community of graduates from the programme who will advocate a fairer working culture with more equal opportunities at a global scale. Both Pistoia Alliance members and non-members are invited to sign up for the new Diversity & Inclusion in STEM Leadership program, which starts in January 2023.
“Although many companies have their own DE&I initiatives, our programme offers a rare opportunity for leaders to share and compare their perspectives cross-company and globally, as well as benchmark their progress against the rest of the industry,” commented Anca Ciobanu, Programme Lead at the Pistoia Alliance. “A major point of praise from our Women in STEM programme was how the Pistoia Alliance was able to create a safe space where participants felt able to discuss both their experiences and how DE&I programmes could be improved. Approaching these issues like a community helps leaders understand the similar challenges underrepresented groups are facing across the industry, and enables us to solve them faster, together.”
Initially, the Alliance chose to tackle the lack of women in STEM leadership positions, who make up only 16% of management and 3% of CEOs. Following the success of this programme and at the request of members, the Alliance has expanded the focus to tackling other areas of inequality, including age, race and neurodiversity. The 14-week virtual programme takes an action-orientated approach, including role plays and scenarios that seek to uncover unconscious bias. Participants will work together to find solutions so that they are better prepared to overcome challenging situations for themselves and team members.
“The programme is like a vaccine – we expose leaders to trial situations to understand the root causes of how inequality manifests in the workplace and to uncover unconscious biases. Then when the participants experience these scenarios again, they know what the most appropriate action is – whether that’s being an ally or intervening themselves. Change has to come from the top down for life sciences to build a more inclusive culture,” added Ciobanu. “By the end of the programme, each leader will be equipped to better support diversity programs at their respective companies. But we don’t want the programme to simply end there – the Alliance will invite alumni to different events to meet other participants. To truly increase diversity we must keep the conversation going and continue collaborating on best practices.”