The research is clear – Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and the valuable networks they create are tremendously helpful for building a sense of community and shared purpose for diverse workers, including LGBTQ+ employees.
With the objective of sowing cross-pollination between LGBTQ+ ERGs at different biotech companies in the Boston region, Slone Partners co-sponsored along with The Engine and Entrada Therapeutics, the first ever OUTbio ERG Summit, on May 17 in Cambridge.
Introductory remarks were delivered by Joe Vogel, OUTbio Vice President and Director of Clinical Operations at Intellia Therapeutics, who said the event brought to life his long-time dream of creating more substantive connections between Boston-area ERGs. The session was co-moderated by Candace Nortey, Managing Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Slone Partners.
Approximately 40 people attended the Summit, most of which took the form of small working groups brainstorming issues tied to two primary topics – overcoming obstacles in the way of collecting LGBTQ+ demographic data in the workplace and the ways in which that data could help advance advocacy efforts, and best practices for ERGs to seek out and obtain institutional resources to sustain their operations aligned with and adding value to their company’s strategic plan and business goals.
Ramsey Johnson, OUTbio Founder and President, remarked that the Summit was born from the idea that ERGs could beeven more valuable if people from different companies were engaging with one another.
“We’ve talked a lot about the ERGs across the biotech space, and there seemed to be a lot of synergies between the types of things that OUTbio was doing, and the types of things that ERGs were doing. But what we felt was missing was that the ERGs across the industry weren’t talking to each other,” he said. “We really were trying to think of a way to pull the ERGs together so they could share best practices, talk about the things that were challenging to them, and just share ideas.”
The impacts that ERGs can have in biotech should not be understated, Johnson argued.
“ERGs become a pathway for people to know that a company is supportive of the community they belong to,” he said. “If a company can say they have an ERG or an initiative in a space that someone cares about, that company becomes a place they want to work. They want to work there, they want to stay there for a long time, and they know that company cares and supports the community they are part of.”
Nortey stated that the Summit was successful because the people in the room believe deeply in the power of ERGs to bring about positive change.
“It was very evident in observing the working groups that everyone was fully engaged, exchanging ideas, and learning from one another. There were a lot of lightbulbs going off in people’s heads, and that is particularly exciting because you know they’ll go back to their ERGs with a slightly different perspective and a renewed desire to make things better,” she said.
Johnson remarked that the 2023 OUTbio Summit may have been the first, but he suspects it will not be the last.
“I would love to make this something that happens annually or more frequently, creating opportunities for ERGs from across the biotech and pharma industries to get together on a regular basis,” he said.