As we celebrate our second PRIDE since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, all of us, whether we’re members of the LGBTQIA community or allies, more than ever, need to lean into this moment for reconnecting and expanding our work on diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. This year, we connected with Kendall life science companies Alnylam, Bayer, Moderna, and Pfizer to share critical insights for creating community and develop new pathways for supporting one another. Here’s where our community is focusing its efforts:
Educating through shared resources. Pfizer Kendall shared critical resources with their colleagues detailing the importance of putting pronouns in email signatures, Lindsay Amer’s TedTalk about gender equality, and a podcast explaining the significance of New York’s Stonewall Riots in the context of the Black Lives Matter movement. Alnylam’s Employee Resource Network, SAGA (Sexuality and Gender Alliance), shared a blog post across their internal channels expanding on the importance of pronouns as a key DE&I activity. “Correct pronouns are as important as using someone’s correct name,” said Jen Tran, Senior Quality Assurance Documentation Coordinator and SAGA co-chair. “You wouldn’t want to be called something you didn’t agree to, and by making that agreement to use certain pronouns, people create gateways to even bigger conversations.”
Building understanding. “I heard many stories of people in uncomfortable, or even unsafe, lockdown situations last year as they moved back in with estranged family members to ride out the pandemic. It took a toll on people’s well-being and mental health,” said Cara Pelletier, Senior Director of Culture and Belonging at Moderna. “There is an urgent need for LGBTQ+ people to reconnect with others who share their experiences and can provide understanding, community and support. Pride celebrations are an opportunity to do just that.”
Celebrating the power of positivity. Bayer hosted a speaker series featuring GenderCool Champions, a youth-led movement helping to replace opinions with real experiences through meeting transgender and non-binary kids who are thriving. The Champions took Bayer employees on their personal journey, detailing their daily lives, passions, successes and dreams for the future. The event also included a dialogue with Champion parents, who shared their experience.
Fostering community. Moderna hosted two special events for their team members this month to spark conversation: a book club especially for LGBTQ+ allies who want to improve their allyship knowledge and skills, and a panel discussion with leaders working in the fields of LGBTQ+ healthcare and human rights. Alnylam’s SAGA has prioritized education, networking and the power of collaboration this year. From external partnerships with Fenway Health, OUTBio, and PFLAG for seminars on gender identities and transitioning, to building dynamic PRIDE activities through giveaways and virtual backgrounds, SAGA is leading on creating a culture of belonging, globally.
Connecting internally to better care for others externally. Kendall companies are fostering a culture of belonging by prioritizing equity and community needs. “At Moderna, there’s a deep understanding that diversity and inclusion are essential to developing vaccines and therapeutics for a global population,” said Cara Pelletier, Senior Director of Culture and Belonging at Moderna. “Equity is also an important part of the commitments we’ve made around vaccine access — to provide effective and affordable vaccines and therapeutics to all populations.” Alnylam is similarly committed to coupling its talent needs with its mission towards advancing human health. “Alnylam is a research institution that puts science first,” said Devin Poor, Quality Control Analyst III at Alnylam. “Being data driven puts our company in touch with community needs. We host dialogues and our DEI groups operate in grassroots space– making our priorities bottom up and more authentic.”
Creating space for virtual dialogue. OPEN (Out Pfizer Employee Network) hosted a virtual conversation about PRIDE and inclusion with actor and activist George Takei that was open to all colleagues, followed by a virtual DJ/after party. Additionally, Pfizer Kendall Square’s DRIVE (Diversity Realized through Inclusive Visible Effort) team hosted a presentation/Q&A with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Massachusetts chapter, including conversations with Caitlin Walsh and Steve Penella, members of the LGBTQIA community who spoke about their experiences and journeys with mental health.
As national PRIDE month comes to a close, Kendall organizations and affinity groups will remain active and open to continuing dialogues and sharing resources to educate our workforce as a part of our shared mission to become the most innovative and inclusive square mile on the planet. Not only does our innovation community value diversity, but we know that everyone must have a place here in order for us to continue advancing and safeguarding human health for generations to come. Happy PRIDE, today and always.