Why Does Diversity Matter for Pharma?
Diversity matters for pharma because inclusion, trust and equity matter for pharma. When developing therapies and medications, pharmaceutical and life sciences companies are tasked with designing products for a diverse range of patients and care providers. Without integrating diversity and inclusion (D&I) from the start of development, firms are stuck in a loop of being too late when it’s time to bring products to market. Ultimately, diversity helps firms to create more innovation that benefits more people.
What Elements of Diversity Are the Most Critical for the Pharma Industry?
Diversity matters at both the development stage and delivery stage for pharma and life sciences firms. First, it’s crucial to integrate D&I principles when pinpointing gaps in treatments that impact diverse populations. For this reason, diversity matters when it comes to the leadership and visionary roles within pharma firms.
Next, diversity is important during product research and development. This is why bringing in diverse key opinion leaders (KOLs) during product development can benefit a firm. In addition to providing insights, a KOL can help a development team pinpoint areas where they’ve overlooked the needs of diverse populations in terms of everything from usage to messaging. KOLs can also be vital for effective messaging that builds trust to ensure that a valuable, life-enhancing product or therapy is accessible to all. Within the pharma industry, we’ve seen distrust, reluctance, and lack of product outreach keep populations away from life-enhancing developments. By not building diversity into the development pipeline, pharma and life sciences firms isolate populations by default without recognizing the disconnect. KOLs can be “bridge gaps” simply by bringing their own diverse insights into development and messaging.
Lastly, diversity matters when it comes to trials and research. By selecting diverse trial groups, researchers and clinicians can use data to create better patient experiences. For too long, diverse patient voices haven’t been heard on the research-and-development side. In addition to creating a situation where the needs of many are not met, there is also the issue of products failing to be embraced by populations on the commercial side after release due to lack of trust, interest or access. This highlights the need to integrate conversations with patients, care providers and patient advocates into product development to ensure that products are being developed with patient needs and concerns in mind.
Creating a More Diverse Picture in Pharma
The big takeaway for pharma and life sciences firms is that diversity is not merely an HR issue. Yes, firms must start focusing on expanding diversity through all tiers of leadership to impact how and why certain products are developed. Unlike other industries, hiring decisions don’t necessarily cover the diversity front for pharma because D&I must be integrated into the development process. This includes selecting diverse groups of patients to participate in product trials, designing distribution channels for getting the message out about new products, interacting with care providers and advocates for diverse populations and using KOLs from diverse backgrounds to expand insights for more equitable product development. Ultimately, bringing diversity to the pharma world means bringing more inclusion to everything from senior management to the customer base. When it’s done right, D&I in pharma leads to better health outcomes, more innovation and better sales numbers.