Diversity Is A Continuous Journey At BioCanRx
At BioCanRx, a leading Canadian cancer research organization, equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) is a constantly evolving endeavour.
The company, which has been in operation since 2015, has put EDI at the forefront of everything it does – from the composition of its board of directors to ensuring female representation on its internal committees and its hiring practices. However, BioCanRx’s leadership team still feels that it can do more in this important area.
“While equity, diversity and inclusion is in the fabric of our organization, we still have a lot to learn and can continue to improve,” says Dr. Stéphanie Michaud, president and chief executive officer of BioCanRx. “With better designed initiatives, we can reach a broader group of people.”
In an effort to enhance its equity, diversity and inclusion policies, BioCanRx hired an outside consultant in 2020 to undertake an audit of its practices. The result was a five-part EDI action plan that the company continues to implement.
The action plan is comprised of the following:
- Code of Conduct and Zero Tolerance policy
- Indigenous student summer program
- EDI training and cultural awareness
- A safe environment initiative called “Hear You”
- Sponsorship programs for marginalized students
“The action plan has been great, but we’re still addressing gaps,” says Sarah Ivanco, Manager of Training, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at BioCanRx. “We know that EDI is needed if we’re going to affect real change in this country.”
A non-profit organization that sprung up from the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, BioCanRx is focused on both clinical and pre-clinical cancer research, with the goal of moving that research into the clinical trial phase.
All the cancer immunotherapies that BioCanRx is involved with – from antibodies to genetically modified viruses and T-cells – would not have been developed without Canada’s robust biotechnology sector, says Dr. Michaud.
And while BioCanRx continues to make strides in moving cancer research into new phases of development, the organization also continues to focus on bolstering its equity, diversity and inclusion practices.
BioCanRx is now in the process of developing a safe environment initiative that provides employees with confidentiality and anonymity should they come forward with any issues or complaints.
“Any change can be a challenge,” says Dr. Michaud. “The biggest challenge is often fear of the unknown. But, in the end, we are committed to growth and inclusion as an organization. We know that diversity is strength.”