Creating a culture of belonging: Origin Materials’ Inclusion Revolution

For Origin Materials, being named an I.D.E.A.L. employer by BioTalent Canada was a welcome recognition of their commitment to important topics such as equity, diversity, and inclusion.

“We were excited to receive this recognition,” says Dr. Alex Ward, who manages government relations and policy at Origin Materials, a biomass technology company that is based in West Sacramento, California and Sarnia, Ontario. “We see creating a strong and diverse work force as part of having a competitive advantage. Culturally within our organization the award had a positive impact with the team to be recognized for our efforts and dedication in this area,” she adds.

Publicly traded since 2021, Origin Materials is in the process of expanding into new markets as it commercializes its patented technology platform that enables various industrial and consumer products such as apparel, packaging, and sustainable tires to be created with low-carbon and often performance-enhanced bio-materials.

Dr. Ward says that the I.D.E.A.L. employer recognition can serve as an icebreaker when interacting with new communities.

“This recognition is a great way for the communities we interact with as a company to recognize immediately what we stand for – that we are committed to inclusion and diversity within our team, and respectful of the communities we engage with.”

The I.D.E.A.L Bioscience EmployerTM recognition program, which represents Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility Leadership, recognizes organizations in Canada’s bio-economy that are leading the way in embodying the diverse and inclusive corporate principles needed to promote growth and success in the sector.

Origin Materials has announced plans to build a manufacturing plant in Louisiana, a diverse U.S. state with a unique history and culture that includes a large French-speaking population. Ward says the I.D.E.A.L recognition served as a bridge for the company as it establishes relationships with diverse groups in the southern state.

“To me personally, IDEA is about letting people show up to work as their authentic selves. It’s a holistic approach to interacting with the people we hire, in whatever community that might be,” she says. “It helps us build a stronger workforce.”

In the past few years, Origin Materials has grown from two dozen staff to more than 200 employees and counting. Origin has recruited many of its newest workers from participants in BioTalent Canada’s internships, the Science Horizons program, and indigenous communities.

Dr. Ward says Origin Materials is grateful for the help it continues to receive from BioTalent Canada, and for the recognition of the importance the company places on IDEA principles, adding that the working relationship has enabled the company to grow and thrive.