Advancing Women Of Color, Should You Be Doing More?

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  • 9/5/2017 ALLIES TO PEOPLE OF COLOR


Gender Leadership Group Blog:

Advancing Women Of Color, Should You Be Doing More?

 

This Tuesday we will do a live Better Man Chat on Twitter entitled, Allies To People Of Color (see details above).  Meantime, In Walking The Talk Pt. 3, Advancing Women Of Color, Should You Be Doing More? Rayona Sharpnack, Founder of The Institute For Women's Leadership indicates that for women of color it is "10 x harder" to advance in the corporate world than it is for white women.  33% of the officers at Genentech are women. Julius Prior III, now former Head of Innovation, Diversity & Inclusion at Genentech addresses a number of topics in relation to advancing women of color including what the benefits of advancing women of color are, plans for advancing women of color, and what challenges they or other companies might face in advancing women of color.  As you watch the video or read the transcript below, we invite you to consider if you or your company should be doing more to help advance women of color.

AS YOU WATCH THE VIDEO OR READ THE TRANSCRIPT BELOW, WE INVITE YOU TO CONSIDER IF YOU OR YOUR COMPANY SHOULD BE DOING MORE TO HELP ADVANCE WOMEN OF COLOR

Rayona Sharpnack:

I'm particularly interested in the plight of women of color.  It's one thing to be disadvantaged as a white woman and feel all those thousand, you know, death by a thousand paper cuts?   But for women of color, it's like ten times harder.  And I just want to know, what have you seen?  And what have you been able to do?  Have your companies done anything specifically for that population?  Like made sure that you're treating that population uniquely and not just saying “all women”?   So maybe you can start with Genentech, do you folks have a specific initiative?  Or not yet?

Julius Prior III:

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Yeah, it's really interesting.  Genentech has done, we've done, an unbelievable job in terms of really recognizing and moving women into leadership roles.  About 10 to 12 years ago, there were almost no women officers in the company and now we've got about 14,000 - 15,000 people in the company, about 12,000 in South San Francisco, at our campus down there, and we have a big manufacturing facility across the bay over in Vacaville, so now thirty-three percent of the officers at Genentech are women.  

And it's phenomenal, as I thought about how we've done this, I had some really interesting discussions with our CEO and some other leaders in the company over the last few days and I'm still just sort of trying to pick their brain and say, “How do we do this”?  And, first of all, we were strategic about it, we were deliberate.  The leadership team took ownership of it and they set some targets and some goals around things that they wanted to do.  But as I really got into the heart of this, ultimately everybody believed that this is critically important for basically, the viability of the organization, that we wouldn't be an ongoing entity if we didn't recognize where the talent was (is).

THIS IS CRITICALLY IMPORTANT FOR THE VIABILITY OF THE ORGANIZATION, WE WOULDN'T BE AN ONGOING ENTITY IF WE DIDN'T RECOGNIZE WHERE THE TALENT IS

WE NEED TO HAVE A DIALOGUE AROUND THE PARTICULAR CHALLENGES OF WOMEN OF COLOR 

And then when we began to talk about women of color, and we're just beginning to have this dialogue as I'm sort of hitting the touch points around that, because as I, and it wasn't that I was leading this, as I was going around the organization and as I've talked to people outside of Genentech, it continues to pop up, “Well I know you're doing a lot with women.  We need to have a dialogue around the particular challenges of women of color and in particular African-American women or Latino women or Asian women and even subsets within those groups.”  

And again think about what we do at Genentech, we're developing and shaping molecules to create some of the most leading edgecutting-edge medicines.  And this isn't to treat the Tasmanian Devil in between your toes or some rash, we're treating some of the most difficult and debilitating diseases that you know about.  I mean these are oncology diseases, cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer.  They're people walking around today on the earth because of stuff that we were able to do at Genentech, so this is serious stuff.  

And when you look at the demographic groups, African-American men have a sixty percent higher incidence of prostate cancer, African-American women have a greater incidence of uterine leiomyomas, and benign thyroid tumors and endometriosis, and other diseases.  And so as you go across the board, if you want to do a good job of understanding and treating these diseases and developing the right kind of biologics and the right kinds of molecules, you need to have people in your organization who not only have an affinity for, but have a connection to these groups.  

IN TERMS OF THE PEOPLE WE NEED, INCREASINGLY THOSE ARE GOING TO BE PEOPLE WHO LOOK A LOT DIFFERENT THAN THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE TRADITIONALLY BEEN IN THOSE ROLES

And we haven't even begun to talk about breast cancer and how certain women of color over index for certain kinds of breast cancers and men get breast cancer, also, not to the degree that women do, not in the same proportion that women do, but when you're trying to attack the kinds of, trying to cope with the solutions to the kinds of problems that we're trying to attack, it's critically important that we understand not only what the patient populations look like and are going to look like, but also what the healthcare providers and the people who are treating the disease are beginning to look like.  And as we continue to look at who's getting the kinds of degrees, and backgrounds, and PhDs, in terms of the people we need, increasingly those are going to be people who look a lot different than the people who have traditionally been in those roles.

So as I've talked to women of color, these things continue to come up and the challenge is that, oftentimes white women will say, “Well you know you're dividing us.  We're all going through the same stuff.”  And it still comes down to having somebody who can really moderate the dialogue to say, “Well now, no, we're not dividing people.  We're trying to look at particular challenges that unique groups of people are facing to be sure as we bring them into our culture, in our environment, that they can bring who they are to the table because in some cases who they are, in terms of being a black woman or a Latina or an Asian woman may be critically important to the kind of solution we're developing to the medicines we're trying to create.”  So we're beginning to have that dialogue.

Rayona Sharpnack:

Right, Great.  Let me ask you Andrew, you talked about sponsorship. Do you do any, just to take off on this issue, do you do institutional approach to sponsorship like it's a requirement of all partners?  Or?  And then, do you do anything special for women of color and women as you build your ally program?

Andrew Giacomini:

The women of color in the legal profession are just…..

Continue watching on Part 6 of Walking The Talk or watch from the beginning here.

 

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