Making Diversity an Action - Embracing Diversity in Clinical Research and Beyond

June 30, 2022

There have been many articles written recently about “Diversity in Clinical Trials” and “Diversity in the Workplace” and I read each one of them to become a better leader and mentor. We must continue to talk about this subject, but I want to take this a step further. As we know, diversity is a noun, but why not turn diversity into a verb by making it an action word. Let’s stop talking and start doing something that embraces our entire population.

In many companies, having a diverse workforce is mandatory and even measured. This includes gender diversity, racial and ethnic diversity, and inclusivity of disabled persons in the workplace. Diversity in the workplace adds invaluable perspectives to help companies develop, create, and grow. It brings unalike minds together for alike purposes and goals. When we harness those differences, companies accelerate because everyone brings a strength to the table. We already know that companies prioritizing diversity in the workplace have increased employee engagement, expanded the talent pool, and fostered new ideas that can change and/or adapt to new market opportunities. Companies with a greater diversity of employees are not only more appealing to work for, but they also can outperform their competitors.

Much related, diversity in clinical trials is long overdue, and while the FDA encourages diverse participation in clinical trials, we must do more. Building trust with all populations take time, but let’s consider how we all can contribute to making this a focus. The FDA recommends that a sponsor submit a Diversity Plan for all medical products for which an Investigational New Drug (IND) application or Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) application is required or for which clinical studies are intended to support a marketing submission for a Biologics License Application, New Drug Application, or any device marketing submission. The FDA will evaluate the Diversity Plan as a key part of the sponsor’s development program. This FDA Guidance, like all Guidances, is non-binding and does not have the force of law. It must come about through advocacy groups and wider messaging from industry leaders that includes large Pharma, Biotechs, CROs, Healthcare Organizations, and Investigators. We can build trust-based relationships though our actions, and it starts with our colleagues, neighbors, and communities. The benefits of diversity in clinical research are paramount. When researchers include a wide group of people, they can be more confident that the results apply to everyone who will one day take these life-changing medicines.

In conclusion, making diversity an action requires everyone to become constant seekers of cultural knowledge. Just a personal thought and perspective, how many of us LOVE experiencing culturally diverse cuisine such as Mexican, Japanese, Chinese, Greek, Italian, French, German, Middle Eastern, Cuban and Latin American cuisine? Well, the hands that we trust to make our favorite, authentic meals are beautiful, diverse people. Why are we not embracing diversity down to the people level and across all industries?

It is critical we forge trusted relationships with peers as well as patients to help improve and/or develop new therapies, and in order to do so, we must be able to better understand and embrace one another


Clareece West
Executive Vice President, Commercial Operations - Linical Americas