3 min read

cat·a·lyst (noun): an agent that provokes or speeds significant change or action

“Catalysts for Change” was the theme for our sixth annual Inclusion, Diversity and Equity (ID&E) Week at Vertex Pharmaceuticals. We believe that ID&E is a catalyst for innovation, and our business of creating and delivering transformative medicines for patients depends on our ability to serially innovate.  

While we recognize that ID&E must be embedded in our daily decisions and interactions, ID&E Week is our annual opportunity to press pause and listen, learn and reflect. This year’s theme also served as a call to action for all Vertexians to ignite actionable change and continue to progress ID&E at Vertex. Throughout the week, we heard from inspiring speakers — Vertexians and guests — about their personal stories and how they have catalyzed change. 

The week kicked off with a panel, Reflecting on Our ID&E Journey, where Vertexians Fernando Afonso (Senior Country Manager Brazil), Adriana Jaimes (Marketing Senior Manager), Ernesto Massimo (Senior Director, Financial Planning & Analysis), and David Price (Vice President and Oxford, U.K. Site Head) shared how they are partnering with our Employee Resource Networks and our ID&E and human resources teams to bring our global ID&E strategy to life on their teams and organizations. Each of them has converted passion into action, taking meaningful steps to evolve our approach to recruiting, mentoring and career-enhancing assignments.  

An image of Diana Cruz Solash leading a discussion during ID&E week

Throughout the rest of the week, we hosted invigorating conversations with guest speakers: 

  • Risks and Rewards of Entrepreneurship with Vertex board of director members Sangeeta Bhatia, M.D., Ph.D., and Lloyd Carney, as well as Co-founder and CEO of Cellino Nabiha Saklayen, Ph.D.; Co-founder of Ginkgo Bioworks Reshma Shetty, Ph.D.; and MIT President Emerita and Professor of Neuroscience Susan Hockfield, Ph.D. 

  • Advocating for Systemic Change in STEM with Gentry Patrick, Ph.D., Director of the University of California San Diego’s Center for Empathy and Social Justice in Human Health, and of the PATHS Program 

  • Actioning Change with Lady Phyll, Co-founder of U.K. Black Pride and Executive Director for the Kaleidoscope International Trust 

  • Speak Data: A Journey Towards Data Humanism with Giorgia Lupi, Ph.D., Information Designer and Partner at Pentagram 

An image of a panel of women, including Reshma Kewalramani, speaking during an ID&E week event


“When I think about catalysts, I think about entrepreneurs. They see potential in new ideas and take on risks to pursue these opportunities.”

CEO and President Reshma Kewalramani, M.D. 

Beyond the incredible programming, I was energized by the catalyst for change stories that many of my colleagues shared in conversation, in Teams chats and during Q&As. For example, the team in San Diego hosted a belonging card activity where employees were able to share what belonging means to them and what they need from each other to belong. Our teams in Oxford, U.K., have been intentional about spending time discussing psychological safety. 

This year was also meaningful because it was the first time in two years that we were able provide opportunities for our employees to engage in person and virtually. Our sites in Boston, San Diego and London each hosted plenary speakers that were live streamed to Vertexians across the globe. 

To sustain the learning and action beyond ID&E week, we remain focused on equipping Vertexians with the skills and resources to activate and live ID&E in their daily interactions and decisions. Here are a few practical tips we shared during ID&E week that we’ve asked all Vertexians to practice. I share this here as these might be useful in your daily interactions: 

  • Do I/we have the same “go-to” people/person all or most of the time? How well do I/we spread out challenging work and high visibility assignments? 

  • Whose ideas do I/we seek out and listen to? With whom do I/we share information? Is it the same people? 

  • Who do I/we typically choose to attend and present at meetings? Is it the same people? 

  • To whom am I providing real-time feedback? Do I offer this to certain team members more easily or regularly than others? Why?  

At Vertex, our core values and our steadfast commitment to ID&E provide a framework for everyone at Vertex to activate ID&E in their day-to-day. Individually, as teams, and as an organization, we are proud of the progress we’ve made and excited to continue our ID&E journey. Continuing our journey is crucial, because we know we make the best decisions for patients, our employees, and our communities when ID&E is embedded in everything we do.