It's a unique privilege to know that the work we do positively impacts the world. As a company operating at the intersection of health and technology, we're proud of our contributions to life-saving biomedical research.
But we know we can do more. We see opportunities to affect meaningful change and advance causes important to us, not from a business perspective, but a human one. We believe the privileged position we have been fortunate enough to enjoy comes with a moral responsibility to make the world a better place beyond what we contribute with our core products.
That’s why today, we are officially launching BenchSci Forward, a platform through which we use our business to elicit positive change in the world. It's the right thing to do, and we hope our actions will encourage other business leaders to join us.
To start, we’re focusing on three issues, and we’ll evaluate and evolve our efforts over time. Here, we’ll review each issue, why it’s been selected, and how we’re doing our part.
STEM lacks diversity; we want to help change that
Historically underrepresented groups continue to face systematic and disproportionate barriers that impede their entry to and progress in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) due to their gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or abilities. People from these communities should have equitable access to and be able to benefit from this rapidly expanding segment of the job market.
Further, there is evidence that this lack of diversity can hinder scientific progress. Finding solutions to complex problems isn't only about being smart; a breakthrough can often be more a matter of looking at things from a different perspective. A team with diverse backgrounds is, on average, better equipped to approach problems from a variety of perspectives, one of which may be the key to finding the best solution.
With BenchSci Forward, we are committed to increasing the representation of underrepresented communities in STEM. We are approaching this by supporting organizations through financial contributions, volunteer hours, and engaging in dialogue to understand how we can be most helpful.
We are currently partnering with organizations like STEMHub Foundation and The Knowledge Society, which are focused on providing STEM education and technology based-entrepreneurship opportunities to encourage women, racialized people, and underrepresented youth to pursue STEM careers.
We are committed to encouraging diversity by disseminating supportive literature and providing mentorship, sponsorship, and paid internship opportunities to underrepresented STEM talent.
Mental health is stigmatized, but it shouldn't be
Mental health is an issue that has been steadily gaining attention over the past decade. According to recent CDC data, nearly 20% of American adults report suffering from mental health issues. Additionally, more than 70% report at least one symptom of stress, such as headaches or anxiety.
With the prevalence of stress and mental health issues, you might think we would be comfortable discussing them as a society. Unfortunately, there remains a stigma that discourages open conversation about mental health. It has a detrimental effect on the people who suffer from such issues and their friends, family, and community. The more we as a society remain silent, the more alone those struggling with their mental health feel, which only exacerbates matters.
Through BenchSci Forward, we work to raise awareness, eliminate stigma, and empower people with mental illness to overcome barriers to their success. One way we do this is by supporting organizations like Rise, a Canadian charity that provides training and resources for people with a history of mental health or addiction, helping them take control of their life through sustained self-employment.
We also care deeply about our own team's wellbeing. We hope to set an example for other companies by providing resources that promote good mental health. Following the example set by Starbucks, we’ve extended our benefits to give every employee access to ten free therapy sessions every year, as well as personalized coaching and group mindfulness sessions with our trained clinical psychologist. We also provide each employee with their own account for Headspace’s mindfulness and meditation app to help them practice these techniques independently. To mitigate burnout, all our employees receive extra vacation time and personal days to take as they need. Additionally, to ensure the entire company’s alignment on these issues, we’ve made mental health training a requirement for all managers.
This is the only planet we've got; let's take care of it
The overwhelming scientific consensus is that climate change is happening, and human activity is the leading cause. Industrial activity, transportation, and electricity generation are responsible for over 75% of the greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change. They are also crucial elements of commerce, which is why we see it as the duty of business leaders to set a better standard for the world through their production processes, transportation use, and energy consumption. We can find sustainable solutions that will allow both businesses and the environment to thrive if we all work together.
To do our part, we're pushing our company to go beyond carbon-neutral and offset 10% more emissions than we produce. We also support organizations such as Nature Conservancy Canada (which works to preserve important carbon-storing natural areas and biological diversity across Canada).
We can't do it alone; we need your help
We take pride in our efforts to drive meaningful change with BenchSci Forward. We share these initiatives with the hope of inspiring our fellow organizations to join us in supporting these and other important causes. The more we work together toward these aspirations, the more significant an impact we can make.
We’d love to hear about the causes you support and how you’re supporting them. Let us know in the comments below.
Visit the BenchSci Forward webpage to learn more about our initiatives.