Genentech aims high with new diversity goals, including doubling hires and spending $1B with diverse suppliers

Quita Highsmith, Genentech's chief diversity officer, is helping the pharma double down on diversity and inclusion goals with a new 2025 plan. (Genentech)

Roche’s Genentech knows diversity and inclusion aren’t just good for society, they're good for business.

That's why its new strategic plan includes doubling the number of Black and Latinx directors and officers in leadership positions by 2025 and committing $1 billion in spending with diverse suppliers. 

Genentech's formalized plan comes in part as a response to a survey the company ran last year investigating health inequities. One of the key findings? One in three people in marginalized communities avoid participating in clinical trials, shun vaccines and reject testing because they don't trust the industry.

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Calling the findings "unacceptable," Quita Highsmith, Genentech’s vice president and chief diversity officer, said bridges must be built to make patients "feel valued, respected, and understood. We must give them reasons to believe in the healthcare system. Until then, health equity cannot be achieved.”

Genentech knows from experience that concerted efforts around diversity can work. Its 10-year commitment to increasing the number of women in leadership roles and creating gender pay equity practices has resulted in 43% officer level representation by women, up from 24% in 2010.

Pay is essentially equal today at the pharma, where women make 99.6 cents for every dollar men earn—and also holds true for employees of color, who earn 99.5 cents for every dollar white employees make.

“As a company focused on serving an increasingly diverse world of patients and needing to drive innovation to tackle serious and life-threatening diseases, diversity and inclusion has been—and continues to be—a business imperative,” Highsmith said.

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Genentech's plan divides its goals into three focus areas: encourage belonging, address health inequity—especially in clinical research—and reach out to diverse communities.

The community outreach includes putting its money where its mouth is when it comes to health equity and charitable donations. Last year, Genentech spent $90 million, its highest annual amount to date, on patient support, STEM education and health equity programs.

Genentech’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is also on display in the company's organizational chart, Highsmith said.

“While diversity teams are typically housed under the human resources umbrella, I report directly to our CEO—a strategic, purposeful and innovative reporting structure designed to enhance the impact of our diversity and inclusion efforts,” she said.