In advance of the Fourth of July holiday, while we celebrate this national day of independence and freedom, we must reflect and remember the true meaning of these words and ask ourselves what we can do—individually and collectively—to actively promote social justice and strive for freedom and opportunity for all. Freedom from discrimination. Freedom from fear of violence. Freedom to be one's true and authentic self. We must embrace and celebrate our differences. This is what makes us who we are and allows us to be our best selves. Celebrating diversity enriches our own life experiences and makes us stronger.
I want to pledge our ongoing commitment to be a Force for Good and to stand up and move together toward a better future where every individual is valued and respected. We all have a responsibility to take action, to speak out and to serve as agents for change to actively dismantle social injustice, systemic racism and inequality.
After the senseless tragedies suffered by the Black community, including the death of George Floyd, Genome Medical identified initiatives we are undertaking for the advancement of the Black community and other people of color. As an organization unified behind a mission to democratize access to genomic medicine for all, we want to do our part. Here is an update on our five ongoing efforts to amplify diversity, advance change and support the dismantling of systemic racism.
5 Initiatives for Change
- Educate Ourselves: We believe change starts with an understanding and compassion for others. We therefore have made this our first pillar of priority for our organization. We have developed a library of online resources and hold regular open forums to spark conversation and help us grow—as individuals and as a collective. We want to engage in discussions transparently, openly and authentically. Please reach out to me directly (contact info below) if you are interested in accessing these resources for your organization. We are also seeking speakers to further foster education as part of our lunch and learn series for members of our community, and we welcome collaboration with other organizations who share our goals. We believe these efforts will help us reflect on our roles, within health care and society, and the actions we can take as a health care organization leading change and as global citizens of our world.
- Support Diversity in Research: We believe it is critically important to foster diversity in genomic health data. We have joined the NIH-funded PeopleSeq Consortium in its drive to track the impact of elective sequencing, and to provide subsidized opportunities for elective sequencing to African Americans. At Genome Medical, we hope to utilize genetics and genomics to protect and advance human health across all ethnic, racial and geographic groups. We continue to seek additional opportunities to support diversity in genomic research and welcome outreach from like-minded organizations, professional societies and genetic counseling students leading research initiatives that further these aims.
- Create Access for Underserved Communities: We are seeking partnerships with advocacy groups to reach diverse communities lacking access to genetic services. If you are interested in learning more about our advocacy partnership program, please reach out to Info@GenomeMedical.com. We are also interested in working with professional societies to increase the diversity of the workforce in the field of genomics. We support internship and mentorship programs and are interested in providing genetic counseling students with supervision as they complete their degree programs to make a lasting investment in their career path in genomics.
- Expand Our Diversity Hiring Commitments: We are an inclusive company. We do not tolerate racism or discrimination of any kind. Rather, we champion our diversity and understand this makes us stronger. Last year, we took the parity pledge to commit our company to gender parity. We are proud that approximately 40% of our workforce is from ethnically diverse backgrounds and 60% are women. But it’s not enough. Despite our efforts, people of Black, Latino/a and Indigenous descent are still underrepresented on the Genome Medical team, and we want to change that. We recognize that diversity is essential to accomplishing our mission of responsibly serving all communities. In hiring, we will expand the diversity of our candidate pool and actively seek diverse candidates for all roles at all levels in the organization. We will actively expand our networks to meet and engage with professionals of color through our community, particularly at senior levels of the organization. We will also continue to take measures to encourage development and advancement. We are committed to listen and learn from each other and to build an environment where everyone can be their authentic selves.
- Be a Force for Good: All across this nation, we are seeing how COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted members of the Black, Latino/a and Indigenous communities both in terms of health impact and economic impact. We have a responsibility to take action to address the structural inequities in health care. We will expand our commitment to provide genetic education for underrepresented populations and reach individuals in underserved communities. We have started to identify advocacy groups and other organizations to partner with who share our passion to accelerate and magnify change. As part of our work to make genetics accessible and affordable to all patients and eliminate financial barriers, we offer a financial assistance plan for our services whereby our services are provided at no charge (for eligible individuals with income up to 2X the national federal poverty level) and at a subsidized rate (for eligible individuals with income up to 3X the national federal poverty level). We also offer patient payment plans to further increase access and affordability. Individuals interested in learning more can inquire at Info@GenomeMedical.com.
We will share regular updates as we harness the collective creative energy of our team to advance these important commitments. We recognize we have an ongoing responsibility to take action.
When we have social justice for everybody, the world grows. We want to be part of the change toward a brighter future where all people are valued and respected. And where all people have access to the advancements of genomic medicine to improve health. This future belongs to us … all of us.