“Educate, Empower, Elevate!” was the theme for the most recent conference for Women of Color in Pharma (WOCIP), a nonprofit aiming to promote the development and advancement of women of color who are employed in the pharmaceutical industry. Founded in 2015, WOCIP brings together its informal network of approximately 500 women once a year. We asked two FHI Clinical team members who attended the conference, Tafoya Hubbard, Clinical Research Project Manager, and LaTonya Jones, Account Development Manager, to share some thoughts about their experiences during the 2020 two-day virtual event:
There were so many opportunities to virtually connect with other members! Spending time hearing from likeminded professionals was very refreshing and inspiring.
The virtual platform enabled more people from across the world to attend. We were able to network and share stories with people from different countries and certainly from different organizations.
I was thrilled with all the educational components of the conference! My to do list from the “How to Wrestle and Win with Being More Strategic” session includes: 1) read your company’s earnings reports to stay informed about the finances of your organization, which impact strategic planning; 2) read the Wall Street Journal/NY Times to stay abreast of world trends that impact strategic planning; and 3) ask questions in meetings and utilize resources to create strategic planning goals for yourself and your company and department.
The “Stolen Breaths: Exploring Solutions to the Disproportionate Impact of Police Violence and the COVID 19 Pandemic on Black Lives” session really resonated with me as well. The stress of watching (for those who do) Black men and women killed on video at the hands of cops is traumatic. Trying to protest for your human rights at Black Lives Matter movements during a global pandemic is also another source of trauma and stress. Blacks are dying at a higher rate from COVID-19, and we already had to fight for basic and equal medical services before the pandemic hit. I appreciated the honesty of the conversation and the resources provided to decrease our stress levels.
I was energized by the “Building Infrastructure to Support Clinical Trials in Africa” session led by Quita Beeler of Genentech and Chris Whitfield of AFRIMEDIX. They discussed the need for pharma and biotech companies to have a bigger focus on running trials within Africa. They agreed that many companies don’t invest enough time or resources to evaluate and understand the benefits of including Africa in their clinical trial portfolio.
One speaker discussed how investing in mentoring programs not only helps an organization grow but also instills confidence and empowers women to speak up in our communities, as well as at work. Empowering women can help take your organization to the next level.
One of the most common themes was the importance of having “sponsors and mentors” throughout my career. I learned that, while a mentor is someone with whom I can share my experiences and receive guidance on how to navigate different situations, a sponsor is someone who will mention my name in a room filled with opportunities! So, there’s kind of a stark difference, but both are equally important to have.
I was inspired during the plenary session by Ella Bell Smith, the Professor of Business Administration at Dartmouth College, called “Bring Your Own Chair to the Leadership Table.” She encouraged me to show up as my authentic self, in both my personal and professional places.
Also in Smith’s session she mentioned that she would often be the only woman of color in many rooms she entered during her career, which I think was the case for most of the people attending her session. I could only imagine the situations she faced, but what’s most important is that she used those as opportunities to grow and stay committed to her purpose.
WOCIP: “Educate, Empower, Elevate!”
FHI Clinical is committed to developing and advancing women of color in pharma and to diversity, equity and inclusion in all that we do. We believe that we produce better, more creative solutions by bringing more voices to the table. You can learn more about FHI Clinical’s commitment to diversity and other values here.