Black At Roche: Enhancing Diversity Brings Innovation to Healthcare
Photo Credit: Roche
Like many areas of our society, inequalities in healthcare leave the Black community with the short end of the stick, from Black women being three times as likely to die during childbirth, to an ongoing pandemic that has disproportionately affects people of color.
As a leader in science and technology, Roche has used its role as a global healthcare company to focus on improving health outcomes, including in vulnerable communities across the globe. Roche has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic through innovations in diagnostics and partnerships across the industry, to help control the outbreak.
Roche and Genentech, which is a member of the Roche Group, also strive for an inclusive workplace by committing to hiring and supporting diverse tech talent. By embracing diversity, Roche understands that every discussion and decision can be enriched.
We spoke to Roche and Genentech employees on the value of diversity in their workplace.
“My interest in drug discovery and development drew me to this role,” said Adeyemi (Yemi) Adedeji, Senior Scientist-Pathologist who joined Genentech four years ago. “My company has fully embraced diversity and inclusion to foster belonging and advance inclusive research and I believe this is a strong draw for Black professionals.”
Calvin Daniels, Customer Marketing Director for Roche Diabetes Care, said that while diversity and inclusion continue to be an opportunity area for Roche, the company is making efforts to address it. “The most significant advantage of working at Roche, is my ability to be my whole self – unapologetically,” Calvin said. “Performance speaks for itself, which does volumes for diversity and inclusion, putting everyone on an equal playing field.”
How has Roche and Genentech placed diversity and inclusion at the forefront?
“Genentech has a Chief Diversity Office regarded as an integral part of the business,” Yemi said. “As such, we have diversity, equity and inclusion efforts at every level. We’re focused on advancing the inclusion of underrepresented groups in research, development and care delivery to enrich scientific insights, achieve health equity and ensure access for all. I believe Genentech’s proactive role is helping to recruit professionals of diverse backgrounds.”
Yet, advancing diversity, equity and inclusion requires broad societal transformation. “To see the kind of progress we want to see requires commitment and collaboration both within and beyond our walls,” Yemi said. “That’s why we’re cultivating healthcare and education partnerships within our local communities.
At Roche, a larger, diverse pool to recruit from provides greater opportunities to recruit the best and brightest talent, Calvin said. “Given that many diverse groups are systematically disenfranchised, I believe that diversifying the talent pool is doing a greater good for combating some horrible truths within our society.”
Having a bright, diverse talent pool is critically important in addressing global health challenges. What role has Roche played in the COVID-19 pandemic and patient outcomes?
“Roche’s involvement in this pandemic has been spectacular,” Yemi said. Roche was the first company to receive emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a high throughput commercial test for SARS-CoV-2 for coronavirus testing. Roche has developed a growing number of diagnostic solutions that help to detect and diagnose the infection in patients, as well as providing digital support to healthcare systems, and we continue to identify, develop and support potential therapies which can play a role in treating the disease. As we learn from the pandemic, the company is partnering with governments and others to make healthcare stronger and more sustainable in the future.
On the pharmaceutical side, a study found that a Roche arthritis drug met its primary endpoint, showing that patients with COVID-19 associated pneumonia who received the drug plus standard of care were less likely to progress to mechanical ventilation or death compared to patients who received placebo plus standard of care.
How is Roche prioritizing a diverse make-up with trial studies and why is this important for the community?
“Roche is highly committed to making medicines available to underrepresented populations, and our study on the efficacy of the arthritis drug in COVID-19 patients further supports this premise,” Yemi said. “More importantly, the study is the first global, Phase III COVID-19 clinical trial to primarily enroll patient populations that are often underrepresented in clinical studies and have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Approximately 85 percent of the 389 patients were from minority racial and ethnic groups. The majority of patients were Hispanic, with a significant representation of Native American and Black populations. The trial was conducted in the United States, South Africa, Kenya, Brazil, Mexico and Peru. This is very important for the community, as conducting clinical trials in these populations helped ensure the effectiveness and safety of this medicine in these communities.”
Diversity, or a lack thereof, impacts all areas of life, which is why Roche and Genentech continue to push for it within healthcare and technology. As an industry leader, Roche is working to ensure that Black professionals have a seat at the table.
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This piece was brought to you in partnership with Roche.