The Economic And Scientific Case For Diversity In Healthcare Given the region's increasingly diverse population, the Middle East and Africa's health industry could create lasting change for patients and the economy by embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion.
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While the Middle East and Africa have taken commendable steps in recognizing the significance of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), there remains a pressing need to translate awareness into action. This is emphasized by the fact that the region is solidifying its standing as an economic focal point. As it attracts people of diverse nationalities and ethnic backgrounds, it's not merely the workforce that is being diversified- the patient population evolves as well.
Healthcare organizations can gain a lot by embracing an action-oriented approach to DEI. It is not just a buzzword: DEI stands as a business imperative. Its strategic implementation not only fuels innovation but also enhances patient outcomes, ultimately contributing to the overarching economic growth of the region.
Diversity in healthcare can boost scientific breakthroughs
A diverse healthcare workforce brings together individuals with varied backgrounds, perspectives, and skill sets. This diversity -when paired with an inclusive work culture- can create a rich tapestry of ideas and approaches, fostering an environment where innovation thrives. When minds from different walks of life collaborate, they bring forth a multitude of insights and creative solutions to complex healthcare challenges.
In scientific research, embracing DEI principles ensures that studies consider a broader range of variables, including genetic, socio-economic, and cultural factors. This holistic approach enhances the external validity of research findings, making them more applicable to diverse patient populations. Researchers attuned to the nuances of different communities are better equipped to design studies that resonate with the realities of those populations, reducing biases, and increasing the generalizability of results.
Moreover, a diverse healthcare workforce contributes to a culture of continuous learning. Exposure to different perspectives challenges preconceived notions, fostering an environment where professionals are more likely to question, explore, and innovate. This culture of openness and adaptability is vital for staying at the forefront of medical advancements.
Equity and inclusion in the workplace can boost business success
From a business perspective, DEI can be a catalyst for success and sustained growth. According to the World Economic Forum, companies that are DEI leaders have up to 20% higher rates of innovation than market average. A diverse workforce not only mirrors the varied patient population of the region, but also broadens the skillset and adaptability within the company. This diversity enhances problem-solving capabilities, innovation, and decision-making processes, positioning healthcare organizations to navigate an ever-evolving industry landscape more effectively.
Companies that actively cultivate inclusive environments find themselves better equipped to attract and retain top talent, fostering a dynamic and resilient workforce. Furthermore, DEI initiatives align with global market trends and consumer expectations for socially responsible practices, enhancing the company's reputation and market competitiveness. By fostering a workplace that values diversity, healthcare companies not only secure their own sustainability, but contribute significantly to the overall economic growth of the region they serve.
Pfizer is committed to a more diverse and equitable workplace and society.
Pfizer Middle East, Russia, and Africa (MERA) is one of the organizations that champions DEI. Celebrating the region's diverse voices and stories, they have programs in place that builds a more inclusive work experience, advances equitable health outcomes, and forges external partnerships with companies that share the same values as them.
To improve diversity and foster belonging in the workplace, Pfizer has a program that aims to lift leaders from different backgrounds in their organization, LAFTA: Leadership Aspiring Future Talents. The goal of this program is focused on providing participants with best practices towards their leadership development based on mentoring, coaching and internal networking. This year in 2023, it will celebrate its fourth anniversary with around 140 colleagues completing LAFTA during the past four cohorts across the Middle East, Russia, and Africa.
Similarly, health equity is only achieved when breakthroughs are made accessible to all. To better understand individuals' health needs and the impact of Pfizer's medicines across all people, they are focused on inclusivity from the earliest stages of research, embedding equity at every point along the R&D process. This is especially evident in Pfizer's clinical trials where they aim to represent the diverse communities impacted by diseases. They are investing in training employees to manage diverse trial enrollment, creating culturally relevant and linguistically appropriate materials tailored to participants in the region, and choosing clinical trial sites in relevant communities. By designing clinical trials with diversity as a priority in early- and late-stage medical research, Pfizer is working to close the gap in health disparities in minority and underserved populations.
Likewise, Pfizer works with several external partners that share the same vision to create a more equitable world. They collaborate on thought leadership, educational resources, community initiatives, and more. For example, Pfizer is working with the Arab International Women's Forum (AIWF), on a virtual panel series 'D&I by Design: Women's Leadership & Legacy in Health' exploring salient diversity issues impacting women's inclusion in global and MENA health.
Global Diversity Month is a call to action to diversify the region's healthcare sector.
As the world observes Global Diversity Awareness Month, it's important to celebrate the significant progress made, and to remain vigilant on the goal to foster a more diverse and equitable society. Given the region's increasingly diverse population, the Middle East and Africa's health industry could create lasting change for patients and the economy by embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion. Observations like Global Diversity Awareness Month are conversation-starters – but it should not end there. The month serves not just as a commemoration but as a call to action, urging industry leaders to transform their commitment into meaningful changes that reverberate across healthcare and economic landscapes.