Over the past several years at Foundation Medicine, we have been on a journey to strengthen our commitment to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I). Our goal is for every employee across our sites and departments to feel an innate connection, not only to the important work that we do for cancer patients, but also to their colleagues and our culture.
Last year, with the introduction of our DE&I annual report, we reflected on our journey to develop a strong sense of belonging at Foundation Medicine. We detailed the creation of our DE&I Committee and Enterprise Diversity Strategy, as well as the expansion of our employee-developed Employee Resource Networks (ERNs). We featured spotlights from our employees and shared a breakdown of our workforce composition by gender and ethnicity.
This year, we’ve built upon that inaugural report to show the work we’ve done over the past 12 months and spotlight more employee voices sharing what belonging at Foundation Medicine means to them. I’m proud of the progress we’ve made but feel passionately that we still have many opportunities to improve how we help employees feel connected to Foundation Medicine and the communities we serve.
I asked our Senior Director and Head of DE&I, Edwina Mays, to join me for a discussion about how we’ve grown, and what work we still have left to do to further foster belonging at Foundation Medicine.
Andrew: What is one improvement that you feel has had the biggest impact on our sense of belonging at Foundation Medicine this year?
Edwina: 2022 was a year where we really focused on belonging. We want each of our colleagues to feel like they have a community at Foundation Medicine that is both understanding and supportive so that everyone can bring their whole selves to work.
That commitment led to the launch of two new Employee Resource Networks (ERNs). The first is INclusivity, Diversity & Unity of South Asian Communities (INDUS), which aims to provide a platform at Foundation Medicine for education, celebration, and awareness of the unique and diverse South Asian cultures. We also launched FMI Vets to advance our commitment to our values – passion, patients, innovation, and collaboration—by building common bonds and identity across a diverse workforce. FMI Vets connects veterans across Foundation Medicine and assists them in transitioning from military service and navigating the nuances of a civilian career.
We also held a DE&I-focused Town Hall for employees focused on unconscious bias and organized several Leaders Live sessions. Leaders Live is a program we developed in 2021 to amplify important topics relevant to DE&I and invite national and local thought leaders to join a Foundation Medicine leader for a conversation. In the last year, we’ve held sessions with a focus on empathy as a business skill, inclusive leadership and authenticity – two skills that are pivotal to fostering a sense of belonging at work.
Lastly, I’m proud of how we expanded our community engagement efforts. We launched “FMI in the Community” to increase Foundation Medicine’s impact on our local communities by providing employees with the support to give back and serve. We also hosted an all-employee Week of Service to give employees the opportunity to serve their communities and are excited to do this again this year.
Andrew: We’ve honored several awareness days and months since the beginning of the year. Can you talk about the initiatives that took place to celebrate these important recognitions?
Edwina: During Black History Month in February, we honored and celebrated African Americans who have made significant contributions to our communities. We highlighted Black scientists who have had important impacts on progress in science on our employee channels and social media accounts. These leaders inspire us all to continue our efforts to grow our knowledge and foster a community of inclusivity at Foundation Medicine.
In March, our Promoting Representation, Openness and Understanding of Diversity (PROUD) and INDUS employee resource networks hosted an intersectional week-long series of events celebrating Transgender Day of Visibility and Holi, The Festival of Color. A keynote conversation was held with internationally acclaimed author, poet, comedian, and public speaker Alok Vaid-Menon. We are deeply grateful to Alok for sharing their story with us, and inspiring us with their commitment to authenticity, creativity and human rights.
And throughout Women’s History Month, also in March, we celebrated the women who make up our workforce at Foundation Medicine. We published videos and quotes from members of our leadership team about what this month means to them. We also featured a spotlight on our Unleashing the Potential, Leadership and Impact of Female Talent (UPLIFT) ERN, which works to encourage a workplace of inclusivity and opportunity; empowering and supporting all employees in both their personal and professional endeavors. UPLIFT also partnered with Roche for several events throughout the month, including a Coffee Chat with Roche leaders who shared their reflections of opportunities and hurdles as they navigated throughout their careers.
Andrew: We've done a lot to increase diversity across the organization but as you mentioned, still have room to grow. Can you share a bit about where we are today?
Edwina: We are proud of the progress we’ve made in recent years; however, we remain committed to continued improvement in diversity across the company. At the end of 2022...
35% of all Foundation Medicine employees are ethnically diverse and we are above the industry averages in our major geographic hubs: Boston, Research Triangle Park, N.C. and San Diego. Our percentage of ethnically diverse employees rose 2.4% from December 2021 to December 2022.
54% of all Foundation Medicine employees are women, with women making up 47% of all People Managers and 48% of all Director and above roles.
71% of our Senior Vice Presidents are women and 60% of our Executive Team are women.
Over the past 12 months, 56% of all promotions were awarded to women.
There are definitely still areas where we have room to improve. This year, we set a three-year aspirational goal to bring parity across all our people managers, both from a gender, and a race and ethnicity perspective. We hope that by achieving this equality at the People Manager level, it will help us to diversify our diversity across the enterprise.
Andrew: What is the biggest area of focus for 2023 to further our commitment to DE&I?
Edwina: Our biggest area of focus this year will be to continue driving belonging as our North Star. This will include more of a focus on inclusive behaviors and leadership and ensuring that all our people managers meet certain thresholds for diversity. We will focus less on representation and more on concrete actions, including the launch of listening sessions and office hours to allow all employees to explore topics that are top of mind for them.
We were honored to achieve several Best Places to Work awards in 2022, including The Boston Business Journal, Triangle Business Journal, San Diego Business Journal, Best Place to Work Germany, and the TOP 100 Innovator in Germany award. And this year, we’ve already achieved Best Places to Work awards from The Boston Business Journal and Best Place to Work Germany. We were also certified as a Most Loved Workplace®, backed by the research and analysis of Best Practice Institute (BPI), and as a result of our certification, we are excited to be in the running for Newsweek’s 2023 Top 100 Most Loved Workplaces list. We hope to continue showing up on these lists, because they truly demonstrate our commitment to employees. We love the fact that they are built on surveys from our own employees, so it gives us a great pulse check on how we’re doing, and where we can improve. Our goal for 2023 is to make even more progress, so that every single employee has a positive experience working at Foundation Medicine.