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BIVDA holds webinar to help increase diversity in the UK life sciences industry

By June 30, 2023July 7th, 2023No Comments

BIVDA held a webinar jointly with the Life Science Access Academy on Wednesday, titled ‘The Recruitment, Retention and Development of People of Colour in UK Life Sciences’, which brought together industry leaders and influential voices to share their experiences and better understand how to tackle this industry-wide issue.

It was fantastic to see such a high number of attendees, demonstrating a collective will and interest in helping to improve opportunities and prospects for people of colour in the UK life sciences industry.

The event was both moving and insightful as speakers recounted their experiences of discrimination, how they reached the zenith of their careers, and offered their thoughts on what can be done to improve the current situation.

Former England and Liverpool footballing legend John Barnes MBE spoke about how it was important to not just focus on individual examples of blatant racism, but to also challenge our own internal biases which are prevalent and equally as impactful.

Adrian Forbes, fresh from helping Luton FC reach their Premier League dream, noted how black managers and coaches are often overlooked for posts despite having adequate qualifications and experience – a theme which can be applied to countless industries, including our own.

Cleve Wright, director at Horiba, gave an account of his rise to the top of our industry and gave advice to young people of colour: don’t be afraid to stand out and embrace your talent. Cleve has been instrumental in spearheading work on increasing diversity across our industry and we would like to thank him for supporting our programme.

BIVDA’s Helen Dent featured in the opening comments and emphasised how important this issue is for our industry to solve, hence why BIVDA and the Life Science Access Academy have organised this event.

It was fitting that this event should come just a week after the 75th anniversary of the HMT Empire Windrush’s arrival in Britain, particularly given speakers John Barnes MBE, Cleve Wright and Natasha Rees spoke of their parents and grandparents’ experiences as part of the Windrush Generation.

The 22 June 2023 marked the 75th anniversary of the HMT Empire Windrush at Tilbury Docks in 1948. Windrush Day has become symbolic in the story of the contribution of Black Caribbeans in helping to rebuild the nation after the Second World War and the continuing contribution they make within the UK. Descendants of the Windrush generation want to ensure that their contribution and sacrifices are recognised by the equality and inclusion initiatives that have been put in place. If you would like to learn more, you can read about the anniversary here and you can read about how Caribbeans contributed to the rebuilding of Britain here.

We would encourage members to contact us if you have any ideas or suggestions on how to improve the retention, recruitment and development of people of colour in the UK life sciences industry.

The full list of speakers are below:

John Barnes MBE

John was born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1963 but it was in England that he got his reputation as one of the most exciting and gifted football players of the 1980s and 1990s.

John was the first high-profile black player to grace Livepool’s Anfield ground in the 1980s, a time when racial abuse echoed around stadia. Along with fellow black footballers Lawrie Cunningham, Cyril Regis and Viv Anderson, John was a catalyst for change.

Adrian Forbes

Adrian is an English former professional footballer and currently head of coaching and player development at Luton Town FC. He is a graduate of the Premier Leagues Elite Coaches Apprenticeship Scheme.

Natasha Rees

Action-oriented, driven, enthusiastic business unit director and leader of people and projects, Natasha leads the UKI clinical nutrition and pharma business at Baxter. She has a passion for diversity, equity and inclusion, and delivering tangible change in the workplace and society.

Yam Sumbwanyambe

Associate director at MSD, Yam is passionate about empowering and enabling those that can, to deliver optimal and equitable healthcare outcomes. He is a dedicated champion of equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Cleve Wright

Cleve Wright is a director of HORIBA UK Limited, a leading manufacturer in the fields of energy and environment, materials, and semiconductor, as well as bio and healthcare. He comes from an engineering background and has a great deal of experience in healthcare diagnostics.

Former member of the BIVDA Executive, Cleve is keen to work collaboratively to promote Equity, Inclusion and Diversity within our industry.