During Pride month, we are shining the spotlight on our LGBTQ+ ERG, Spectrum. In 1996, a group of GSK staff formed the first Spectrum branch and they have not slowed down. We now have active branches at each of our US locations.
“I joined GSK 33 years ago and got involved with Spectrum as soon as I heard about it,” says Senior Scientist, Michelle Schaeffer. “We are 100% invested in building a sense of community and driving meaningful change. We know with absolute certainty that a diverse workforce generates more innovative ideas. But we can’t just recruit, we have to ensure when they arrive at GSK that they feel welcomed, valued and heard. That means they can bring their best selves to work and we can boost productivity, morale and retention. Imagine the difference that can make in a company – it separates the best from the rest.”
Schaeffer, along with Global QC Biopharm Analytical Operations Investigator Stephanie Reppert Gerber, has been at the helm of Spectrum for the last three years. The pair continues the robust work of creating a safe, inclusive space and ensures GSK is accountable for impact.
It’s really important to me to have a centered space for people at all levels, geographies and departments to foster a sense of belonging across the entire company.
“Our ERG lends its voice in different ways. We’ve given input on what questions should be included in clinical trial surveys to ensure diversity. We’ve pushed for gender neutral bathrooms at our facilities. We’re present for discussions of major events, sometimes traumatic ones, that involve the LGBTQ+ community.”
By bringing together people from diverse backgrounds to share ideas, ERGs are instrumental in enhancing workplace culture. Led by effective and empathic sponsors, these branches connect those in underrepresented groups and contribute greatly to retention.
“When a company effectively indicates – we see you, that goes a long way in empowering everyone,” Schaeffer said. “This motivates us to be very active both internally and externally. We raise cultural awareness for major events such as Pride month. We are asked for or offer our perspective. We support and mentor colleagues. There is power in numbers.”
Each of the Spectrum branches hold regular meetings to align on goals and share what is happening in their part of the world. This grassroots effort delivers meaningful change aligned with business objectives. This value surfaces in areas such as recruiting, career development, research and development, industry conferences and community partnerships.
“We bring in speakers, organize trainings, we invite in thought leaders, hold webinars, promote dialogues and facilitate education,” said Reppert Gerber.
We’re able to do this because we’ve curated strong collaborations with national organizations such as Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) and Out and Equal. We leverage their expertise and our enthusiasm to make a difference.
On most days, you’ll find Schaeffer in her white lab coat with pipet in hand, studying cells that could potentially save lives. But you’ll also find her taking part in Pride parades, assisting refugees and sharing best practices on equality. Her days are busy with many activities. The reason is simple. All of the work focused on diversity, equity and inclusion could be just as important in impacting lives.
For Pride 2022, we continue our tradition of flying the Pride flag at most of our US facilities. This serves as a visible signal of allyship. This is just one way GSK demonstrates how we are doing the right thing.