Life sciences companies have, historically, followed a highly traditional approach when it comes to talent acquisition. Digital and technological advancements throughout the pandemic have catapulted the industry years ahead, and life sciences is now considering how to increase its talent pool.

It is a time of evolution for the industry, and many life sciences organisations are beginning to focus on their DE&I (diversity, equity and inclusion) agenda with pace, as one of the effective means by which to attract fresh talent from a wider pool. But change must begin at the heart of the employer brand.

It can be difficult to know which steps to take when implementing DE&I initiatives, which is why we are bringing you our top ten tips for creating a truly diverse talent acquisition strategy.

Top 10 tips for creating a DE&I strategy that works:

1. Openly discuss your DE&I initiatives: In a recent webinar hosted by Cielo on the Evolving Role of Workforce Planning and DE&I, we found that many leaders within life sciences did actually have DE&I initiatives taking place both locally and globally. However, this was not being effectively communicated during the initial attraction phase. Communication is an integral part of driving DE&I initiatives: it allows you to be transparent as a brand, and to share your journey authentically. In turn, this will help to attract a more diverse talent pool.

2. Understand your offering: When communicating a DE&I strategy, it is important to keep in mind that flexibility (the buzz word on everyone’s lips) does not mean a company has created a working environment that translates to being inclusive. Some people cannot work remotely, or with certain software. Flexibility has however been the driver for higher levels of diversity within many companies. It is valuable, but institutions need to understand the context of that value.

3. Adjust your parameters: A talent pool based on transferable and adjacent skills and capabilities will provide a greater opportunity for diverse hiring than set boundaries, such as education level or place of study. This is integral to skills-based workforce planning and DE&I, and crucial for future hiring. Review your workforce to understand which skills you will need in the future and what is crucial. This will help you to build a bigger talent pool.

4. Communicate your conscience: If there was ever a time to be talking about your companies purpose and drive, it is now. People – particularly younger generations – are extremely focused on purpose, belonging and wellbeing in our modern world. By talking about what your organisation is doing, you can promote authenticity and further drive DE&I. With life sciences coming to the rescue amidst the global pandemic, now is the perfect opportunity to show how the business contributes to the greater good.

5. Secure buy-in from senior leadership: To successfully evolve DE&I in terms of workforce planning and talent attraction, senior leadership alignment is essential. Having a representative at C-suite level, where all the decisions are being made, is integral to developing a fuller picture of where the business is going. You can then build a workforce plan to accommodate these longer-term developments in advance.

6. Target a diverse audience: It is no longer enough to flood your website and marketing materials with diverse imagery. The modern workforce demands more and responds most warmly to authenticity. Think about where you can really have an impact – whether that is a Women in Leadership event, an LGBTQ+ group, or a minoritized ethnic summit. Your recruitment efforts need to reach underrepresented groups in a place where they feel comfortable.

7. Utilise targeting technology: The increasing digitalization of our world is great news for recruitment and talent acquisition strategies. Today's ad-targeting technology enables you to reach out to specific groups through targeted job ads or display campaigns. Just make sure that the candidate experience fully supports DE&I in the way that your recruitment efforts indicate.

8. Begin at a grassroots level: To truly increase diversity within life sciences, we need to encourage a more diverse talent pool to consider the sector from an early age. Young people must feel confident that their career choice will be supported and facilitated, irrespective of gender, ethnicity, religion, background, or sexual orientation. Role models from life sciences companies need to be speaking at schools, colleges, and universities, and explaining the fantastic opportunities within the industry: opportunities that are open to all. Again, life sciences have played a big part in the fight against Covid; it is this sort of dynamic positioning that businesses should be shouting about.

9. Invest in diversity training: If you want to increase the level of diversity within your life sciences company, it is important to stamp out any unconscious bias that may exist within the institution. Providing your team with ongoing training and education about unconscious bias will help you to expand your talent pool and give all people a fairer chance of inclusion. It also helps to create a diverse hiring team for this very reason.

10. Set a diversity hiring goal: To keep your company on track, it can be a good idea to agree on a realistic target to increase representation from groups that are in the minority within your workplace. Transformations do not happen overnight, but following SMART principles (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely) will help you to better reflect the community you serve in your workforce. Communicate any goals to hiring managers and discuss the most effective ways to reach these goals with a recruitment specialist like Cielo.