At Foundation Medicine, the north star of our DE&I efforts is to ensure that every single employee feels that they intimately belong within the company. We are dedicated to promoting a community where people can find affinity and bring their whole selves to work as we all work together to transform cancer care. There is a conscious and active effort to ensure that employees feel valued, understood, and part of a community. This involves not only feeling a connection to our mission, but a sense of camaraderie and support for who our employees are both inside – and outside – the office. This people-first culture, built over the past twelve years, rests firmly on the idea of belonging, and its three tenets: active empathy, inclusive leadership and embracing each other as our authentic selves.
“I think that sense of belonging comes together when each person can say that they understand not only their role at Foundation Medicine in terms of their job, but in terms of how they contribute to our broader community,” explained Edwina, Foundation Medicine’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion lead. “Belonging is that strong connection that binds us all together, that binds us to the mission of the company, and that keeps us grounded in the work that we do.”
For Nik, an Account Executive, it was his experiences in his personal life that drew him to Foundation Medicine as he learned more about the company’s mission. Around three years ago, Nik’s wife was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. His mother is a breast cancer survivor, and his father recently passed away from non-small cell lung cancer. Nik shared that it was these experiences, and watching his loved ones go through the treatment process that continues to inspire him to get up each day and head to work – so that hopefully with advancements in care and the progression of precision medicine, others do not have to watch their loved ones go through the same things.
As Nik was navigating an already complicated time in his life, with his wife’s cancer diagnosis and a newborn son, he joined Foundation Medicine. He explained that he immediately felt a sense of belonging due to the company’s culture and the way in which he was welcomed to his team.
“There are really two groups of people you spend the most time with – your family and your colleagues. There are so many bright, kind, loving and respectful people here,” Nik explained. What he was met with inspired the way that he works, always willing to lend an ear and share his experience to support his colleagues.
John, a Supply Chain Specialist, came to Foundation Medicine from a long career working in retail management. “Although working at Foundation Medicine is a completely separate world from what I'm used to,” he explained. “A large part of the job is exactly the same – it's bringing in inventory, stocking the shelves, and so on. But here, I feel like I'm truly part of a team. Within months of working here, I was involved with impacting our processes and systems. I don’t feel like a replaceable cog being given orders by those above me. You could tell from the start that Foundation Medicine is invested in hearing the voices of their employees.”
Just a few weeks after he started, John was working a shift on Christmas Eve when he came across an article on our employee intranet about Foundation Medicine’s annual Hackathon, an event that brings together our employees to create, innovate, and propose actionable solutions to evolve our business and improve how we work together to better serve our patients and partners.
“I said, ‘I want to do that next time it comes around to see if we can't problem solve some aspects of our roles,’” he recalls. "Four months later when the Hackathon came around, I took part in it. I was able to conceive of something within weeks of being here and then given a path to make it a reality via the event. For me, it reinforced the importance of working for a company that cares about improvements that not only serve employees but that also makes a difference in the world.”
The solutions that John and his Hackathon teammates developed have been embraced fully by leadership and are currently being used to create new processes to be implemented in the future.
Olivia joined the Foundation Medicine team just this summer as a Senior Benefits Analyst and explained how the onboarding experience and her role on our people team helped her to connect with the company on a more personal level.
“I’ve never worked for a company where I felt the kind of immediate connection that I did here.” she said. “From the welcome I received via Slack, to the MyImpact onboarding program, and the Employee Resource Networks (ERNs) available, I felt like a part of the team from day one,” she continued. The idea of being able to bring your whole self to work really resonated with her and got her excited for the future.
Joining a life sciences company as someone who works in a function that appears far removed from the lab can feel daunting, but Olivia said that her distance from the science has never made her feel distant from her colleagues. “I also feel lucky that from my vantage point working in Benefits, I can see how the company really puts our people first, and makes decisions based on our employees,” she shared.
Olivia joined one of our many ERNs, BAHA (Black, African, & Hispanic Alliance) when she got to Foundation Medicine. Like Olivia, Katie, our Creative Director, has found community and a sense of belonging via the ERNs. As communications chair for PROUD (Promoting Representation, Openness, and Understanding of Diversity), our ERN fostering education, awareness and inclusivity for LGBTQ+ colleagues and allies, she has been empowered to bring her whole self to work each day.
“It can feel awkward to come out when your colleagues know you in a different way, but at Foundation Medicine I found that every single person I told was so excited for me and it made me feel like it was such a non-issue because they all really cared about me as a person and were happy for me,” she explained. “Finding the PROUD community has helped me by fully welcoming me as my authentic self, and in turn, it has enabled me to support others on their journey. Being able to provide resources or educate people, for example around pronoun usage, has led me to educate myself on the many issues that transgender individuals unfortunately still face, which is something that I didn't know a lot about before,” she continued.
“Having these employee-led groups, in addition to the office of DE&I, is so important and I can’t imagine working somewhere that didn’t have them. These communities have helped me and others to express ourselves more truthfully and create a sense of shared experience. Feeling like you can be your authentic self is empowering. I don’t think about it as much anymore, but when I was first coming out, every single time someone was supportive, or I met a new member of PROUD, it gave me a boost and made me feel like ‘I can do this.’ It leads to strength, confidence and stronger connections to colleagues when you know you are being honest about yourself. It makes it easier to do great work because you aren’t worrying about whether you belong, you know that you do and you can focus your energy on being your best self instead.”
Edwina aims to ensure that belonging at Foundation Medicine is a strong thread of connectedness, flowing through all that is done both via the office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and beyond.
“People can find a job anywhere, but why do they stay with a particular company? It's certainly more than salary and benefits,” she explained. “I hope that here at Foundation Medicine, it’s that strong sense of belonging, no matter how it is fostered for the individual employee, that engenders a feeling of community and connectedness to the company and encourages people to work here and to stay here."