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Diversity and Inclusion Found Here

At a virtual career event for university students, PPD employees Ashley Jefferson, Kevin Hatton and Paige Brown discussed their roles in leading efforts for diversity and inclusion through business resource groups (BRGs) at PPD. 

When Kevin Hatton, associate group leader on the vaccine sciences team, started in his first role at PPD around 10 years ago, the job took him to a new town, Richmond, Virginia, U.S. At this new company, in a new city, Kevin made the pivotal decision to come out as part of the LGBTQ+ community and not hide his authentic self from his colleagues.  

“In all my time at PPD, I have always felt safe,” Kevin explained to the university students who tuned in virtually to hear from a panel of PPD employees who are each board members within their respective BRGs. Kevin is a leader within the Pride BRG for the LGBTQ+ community and allies. 

Ashley Jefferson, clinical research associate, joined the panel representing the Black Organization for Leadership Development which is known by the acronym BOLD. She echoed Kevin by saying that PPD is an organization that truly strives for the inclusivity that it promotes to the world.  

“It was important to me that PPD took a strong stance for the Black community given the current climate,” Ashley explained, referencing the racial reckoning that has taken place in America throughout 2020. Through BOLD, PPD is taking steps to support Black colleagues and educate employees across the company in order to create impactful and lasting change.  

Panelist Paige Brown, internal audit manager, represented the Women’s Empowerment Network (WEN), another BRG at PPD. Paige was drawn to WEN because she feels strongly that women should build each other up. She wanted to network with other individuals whom she would not otherwise get to know.  

“Professionally, there hasn’t been a time at PPD when my input wasn’t valued,” Paige explained, adding that she really feels that the “one PPD” defining principle positively influences the way her team and managers interact across differences in identity.  

Each of the BRGs unite PPD colleagues from across the world around shared identities and causes. The BRGs give employees a forum to establish connections and learn from each other through various activities like talks, book clubs, volunteer opportunities, celebrations and more.  

In Richmond, the Pride BRG held several events in September to celebrate Pride week. With the social distancing requirements of 2020, Kevin said the group members knew they would hold informational sessions, but they also wanted to do something fun.  

“Pride week was a hit,” Kevin said. “Just the fact that we were able to host it, and have support from all levels, it made everyone feel like they could be open about who they are.” 

Recently, the United Kingdom WEN chapter hosted a fertility awareness “lunch and learn” with internal expert, Dr. Rose Blackburne, executive medical director and global head of general medicine at PPD. The session, which focused both on the medical factors as well as the emotional challenges with fertility, encouraged creating more open dialogue in the workplace. 

Newer than the other two BRGs, BOLD recently had its first official meeting. 

“We were joined by over 1,000 colleagues for our BOLD launch event,” said Angela Younger, executive director of strategic development consulting and integrated services at Evidera, a PPD business unit and executive sponsor of BOLD.  

“Our chairman and CEO, David Simmons, joined us to talk about his vision for how the BRGs contribute to ensuring PPD is a place for all to succeed,” Angela went on. “We welcome all colleagues to join us on this journey as we foster support, awareness, career advancement and leadership for Black employees. We want to change the narrative for those who have been historically overlooked and underrepresented.” 

Speaking at the event, David shared his personal professional development advice and voiced his support of the BRG. 

 “We want our talented colleagues at PPD to feel comfortable and confident being their authentic selves in an environment where they are welcomed and supported – an environment where we are all united and valued for our contributions towards the company’s purpose and mission and where we respect and appreciate each other’s differences,” David said. “Different colleague groups have different opportunities to enhance engagement and retention, and there’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach that achieves our aims. Our BRGs are tremendous enablers, helping PPD build our ideal culture.” 

Having been involved in developing BOLD’s plans, Ashley shared that the group’s primary objectives will be centered around education, professional development and community awareness.  

For Paige, the support from leaders like David is vital to the success of diversity and inclusion efforts. 

“PPD takes employee opinions seriously,” she explained. “For example, feedback from employee surveys revealed a desire for enhancements to maternity and paternity leave policies in certain locations, so PPD responded by increasing those benefits.” 

“BRGs create a space that makes people feel and know that they are seen,” Ashley said, summing up an impact of these groups.  

In the coming years, BRGs will grow and play an even more crucial role in expanding diversity and inclusion at PPD.  

If you are interested in learning more about diversity and inclusion at PPD, visit: https://www.ppd.com/careers/about/diversity/