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BioTalent Canada Announces Winners of Inaugural I.D.E.A.L. Recognition Program

Incorporating IDEA principles into the workforce and across the bio-economy is critically important to meeting current and future staffing needs.

Adopting and promoting inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility helps to ensure that we reach under-represented groups, and that they are treated fairly within the biotechnology sector.

I.D.E.A.L Recipients 2022
Recipients of the 2022 I.D.E.A.L. Bioscience Employer Recognition Program include the following organizations (listed alphabetically):

AgriTech North: This organization based in Dryden, Ontario focuses on reducing food costs in northern Indigenous communities, holds daily discussions and learnings on IDEA topics, and is led by a chief executive who is Indigenous and differently abled. 

BioCanRx: This cancer researcher headquartered in Ottawa, Ontario has made a commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) at its gender balanced board of directors. Additionally, BioCanRx runs an Indigenous Student Internship program and includes patient voices in all its research findings.

Health Cities: The Edmonton-based company is focused on providing health data to decision makers in Alberta. Health Cities promotes equity in healthcare and provides internships and apprenticeships for under-represented groups in the bio-economy. They also focus strongly on employee mental health.

Life Sciences Ontario (LSO): A Toronto not-for-profit that advances Ontario life sciences, LSO runs an internal/external committee focused on inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility leadership, and incorporates those principles into its strategic planning. The committee is comprised of members of the LSO board and external experts in IDEA.

Nicotine Dependence Service (CAMH): The Nicotine Dependence Service at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto includes IDEA principles in its organizational charter. It also puts IDEA principles at the centre of the programs it offers to the public and consults with staff to develop their culture and values.

Origin Materials: This carbon negative materials company based in Sarnia, Ontario is adding IDEA components to its 2023 performance indicators for staff. Additionally, the company tracks gender diversity metrics and hired a consulting firm to conduct a survey to measure IDEA as their team grows.

Raft Brew Labs: Situated in Calgary, Alberta, Raft Brew Labs uses biotechnology to bolster small beverage producers in Canada and has created an inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility handbook through one-on-one conversations with team members and offers incentives to increase those principles among employees.

Shift Health: This organization integrates inclusion and diversity into its vision and mission and works with marginalized communities. The Toronto-based group also works to build awareness of the challenges faced by individuals with visual impairments and creates written content that is more accessible.

STEMCELL Technologies: This Vancouver-based maker of scientific instruments has a three-year strategy built around equity, diversity and inclusion. Its main pillars are to focus on gender equality, increasing the representation of underrepresented groups, and investing in Indigenous communities. They also conduct regular audits on their hiring, promotion and pay equity processes.

Evaluation Criteria:
Biotechnology organizations both large and small can apply for the I.D.E.A.L. Bioscience Employer Recognition Program:

Applicants are evaluated on the following IDEA principles and best practices:

  • Alignment of IDEA to the vision, values, strategies and outcomes of the organization.
  • Leadership accountability for IDEA.
  • Measurement and assessment of the organization’s current IDEA efforts.
  • The priority the organization places on IDEA learning and awareness.
  • How the organization prioritizes inclusive talent management practices.
  • Efforts put forward by the organization to create a culture of belonging.
  • An organization’s efforts to engage with external stakeholders such as community, clients and suppliers.

Applying for the I.D.E.A.L. Bioscience Employer Recognition Program:
Questions about the I.D.E.A.L Biosciences Employer Recognition Program should be directed to

The I.D.E.A.L. Biosciences EmployerTM Recognition Program celebrates organizations that are adopting principles of inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility (IDEA) and encouraging others in the bio-economy to do the same.

Currently, there is a tremendous opportunity for employers in the biotech space to put IDEA principles into action. Women today make up only one-third (35%) of bio-economy workers and visible minorities comprise one-quarter (25%) of the people working in the biotechnology sector.

The I.D.E.A.L. Biosciences Employer program recognizes organizations in the Canadian bio-economy that embody IDEA principles and put them into practice on a daily basis.

Industry impact stories
Several companies in the biotech sector have incorporated IDEA principles into their best practices. The following stories highlight these companies and their efforts to create a more inclusive, diverse, and equitable workforce.

Shift Health: An inclusive future is a community effort that starts at home

Origin Materials: Making inclusivity a standard business practice

STEMCELL Technologies: How IDEA principles became embedded in one company’s DNA

Additional Resources

The following resources focus on strengthening IDEA principles in the workplace and fostering an equitable workforce free from discrimination. These resources can be used as benchmarking tools for companies considering applying for recognition under the program.

Source: BioTalent Canada