September 06, 2022 | Procurement Strategy
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) can no longer be treated as token initiatives in the pharmaceutical sector. The pandemic meant that the sector, already reeling from historically poor DEI ratings, received a boost to its public image. Now, it’s time for the pharma industry to act on its promises and show that it truly puts people over profits.
There is a plethora of reasons why pharma companies have struggled to meet their DEI goals – especially in the last few disruption-laden years. But it’s important for companies to overcome the issues and help the society bridge the health gap between demographics.
There is a huge difference in saying the right words at the right time and backing them up with quantifiable results consistently. Pharma companies are putting in efforts to show that they care – like supplier diversity programs, investments in historically Black colleges to help improve workforce diversity and decentralized and diverse clinical trials – but there is much that still needs to be done.
To help achieve this, companies must focus their DEI efforts across their three main stakeholder groups – suppliers, workforce and patients.
The advantages are significant across all three sections:
Despite the pandemic and the spate of disruptions wreaking havoc on supply chains around the world, it is important for pharma companies not to lose sight of their DEI goals.
To help realize the goals and their advantages, procurement must play the critical role because it cuts across departmental boundaries and can help drive each group’s initiatives.
A key first step is to ensure procurement itself stands for the diversity it is trying to help the rest of the organization achieve.
Because procurement goes straight to the bottom line, every decision has direct or indirect implications. A diverse procurement function within an organization can effectively inform and build DEI strategies across the company.
Looking inward also helps in winning the talent wars that have risen due to an acute shortage. Showing that you care and are committed to your DEI responsibilities are a great way to attract and retain top talent.
Outside of company walls, focusing on the supplier market and ensuring diversity can help companies move past the status quo.
But this doesn’t stop with simply onboarding a diverse supplier. After setting a baseline, it is also important to track relevant metrics and maintain accurate reporting. Including DEI criteria during the supplier RFI/RFP process can also help procurement become the key agent of change and set the benchmark for future suppliers.
To ensure that goals are met on the workforce side, procurement can team up with suppliers to track the number of external workers, who are generally excluded from such initiatives, and their DEI-related information.
Procurement can also work in collaboration with contract research organizations to attract a diverse patient population for clinical trials, positively affecting overall patient DEI plans.
The benefits, as you have seen, of meeting DEI goals across stakeholder groups are significant, but companies must not endeavor to just meet the goals.
DEI not only helps companies improve their brand image and improve productivity, but it also sets the building blocks toward a healthy and diverse society. Achieving DEI in pharma companies can help close the health gap between diverse groups and drive drug and therapy acceptance across historically disadvantaged and vulnerable groups, paving a path of empowerment.
To read in detail about the three focus areas for pharma companies to achieve greater diversity, equity and inclusion, download our whitepaper now.