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Partnering with UpskillMe to inspire tomorrow’s innovators

Picture of author Karen Borrer
Posted by
Karen Borrer, Communications, BII Operations

For UCB, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) are essential. Our business needs a diverse workforce that embraces difference and reflects the communities we work with and in. We need that to care for our patients, people and planet – and do that sustainably. After all, diversity drives innovation, a concept at the very heart of our patient-centred strategy.

But when it comes to the number of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), the numbers don’t add up. While more than one million women are working in STEM roles, they only represent 24% of the entire STEM workforce in the UK. Moreover, women represent less than 30% of the world’s researchers, only 35% of STEM students in higher education in the UK and a mere 26% of STEM graduates.

Improving DE&I
UCB wants to make a real difference by improving DE&I throughout our business and our industry. And that is why we are proud to be the first pharmaceutical company to team up with UK social enterprise UpskillMe. Through this collaboration, we aim to support the next generation of young scientists and inspire tomorrow’s innovators.

UpskillMe is a careers network that supports under-represented and less advantaged young people. It helps them build the skills, connections and knowledge they need to thrive in the future. After all, every person has unique strengths, and UpskillMe aims to help young people find theirs so they can flourish. It specifically designed its employability programmes to help talented and motivated young people aged 11 to 18 achieve their aspirations.

Inspiring women in STEM
Our first collaboration with UpskillMe aims to help tackle the low numbers of women in STEM. The ‘Empowered Females STEM Mentoring Programme’ aims to inspire the next generation of women, raising their aspirations for studying STEM subjects and embarking on a STEM career in STEM.

Working closely with UpskillMe, five of UCB’s female scientists based in our UK Research and Development hub in Slough will be delivering a mentoring programme to engage and empower female students to maximise their skills and raise their aspirations for studying STEM subjects and a career in science, technology, engineering or maths.

The six-month programme consists of a series of mentoring sessions and masterclasses to engage and empower 20 female students, promote a growth mindset and maximise skills and aspirations. Over the six months, the students will build both their own personal brand. Specific career advice for succeeding in STEM will help them also build resilience.

At the end of the mentoring programme, the female students will ‘graduate’ more prepared personally and professionally. They will be ready to consider further education and a career in STEM.

Partnering to make a difference
Through partnerships such as this, UCB hopes to help address the inequities that exist for children and young people today. We hope that by offering tailored and targeted support to some of the most disadvantaged, we can inspire the innovators of tomorrow while making DE&I a reality for all.

For us, this is not just good business sense – it’s sustainable business sense.

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Posted by Teresa Fogelberg. , 9 October 2021

What a good story. Will the five female scientists have time for this? Does it not compete with their other activities and targets? To what extent does it weigh on their Performance appraisal or will it be an extra for which they get recognition? And how can this be skilled up to other countries?

Posted by UCB

Dear Teresa
Thank you for your email and interest in our collaboration with Upskill Me. This is a new partnership for UCB and we are delighted to be exploring the areas in which we can help make an impact with them.

We have started on a small scale with colleagues who are passionate about Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I), which is a business priority for both our leadership team in the UK and our global Executive Committee. We positioned the five volunteer mentor places as an opportunity for employees to grow and develop as well as giving back to society, which is an important aspect of our sustainable business approach. Our employees are empowered to prioritise their own schedules in line with business needs. Because DE&I is a strategic priority for UCB this activity will take place during normal business hours.

We had an overwhelming response from our UK colleagues to our call for volunteers which highlights the importance that our colleagues attach to DE&I and has provided us with the momentum to scale up our volunteer mentoring opportunities in 2022. In addition to the STEM mentoring programme we will also be partnering with Upskill Me to host an ‘insights day’ in February 2022 for 30 disadvantaged students from local schools which will provide an additional opportunity for our colleagues to engage in DE&I-related initiatives.

Our partnership with Upskill Me has been highlighted at a global level within the organisation and we hope that this may act as a catalyst for other countries to engage in similar opportunities. UpskillMe are a UK social enterprise and other UCB affiliates will be working with similar organisations in their locality.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like further information about our activity in this area.

Best wishes
Karen Borrer (she/her)
Communications Lead, BII Operations