• Sustainability
  • DE&I
  • Pandemic
  • Finance
  • Legal
  • Technology
  • Regulatory
  • Global
  • Pricing
  • Strategy
  • R&D/Clinical Trials
  • Opinion
  • Executive Roundtable
  • Sales & Marketing
  • Executive Profiles
  • Leadership
  • Market Access
  • Patient Engagement
  • Supply Chain
  • Industry Trends

Managing Diversity: Q&A with Tom Harvey


Alkermes’ chief information officer discusses how he helped develop and build a welcoming workplace.

Tom Harvey

Thomas Harvey
Senior vice president of information
technology and chief information officer

Tom Harvey, senior vice president of information technology and chief information officer at Alkermes, spoke with Pharmaceutical Executive about his work building a diverse workplace. As a member of management, he was able to bring a unique perspective to this project.

Pharmaceutical Executive: How can having a diverse management team improve the workplace, especially regarding equity?
Tom Harvey:From the start, it sets the example in terms of walking the walk as it relates to anything related to equity. We live in a diverse nation and a diverse world. All the smart people don't all share the same gender, background, heritage, or education. Right there, it really sends a strong signal to folks, especially when you're trying to increase your diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. If you don't have a diverse panel of folks that are interviewing candidates, then even if candidates are diverse, they don't see anything that feels and looks like them. I think they start to feel a little marginalized. They may start to question your commitment.

PE: Could speak about your personal experience, especially when it comes to building that kind of environment?
Harvey: From the broader experience I've had at Alkermes, I've been able to be part of a management team that's been really committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. In fact, I hadn't been with the company that long when I had the opportunity to review our policies and procedures as it related to inclusion and discrimination. The reason that I had the opportunity to review it at that point was because we were making a proactive change to make it more gender affirming by using more inclusive language. We also wanted to affirm our commitment to non-discrimination and to create a safe and equitable workplace. It starts at the top, and we're lucky that our diversity work is led by two committees. One is an executive committee that I'm a member of, which is chaired by our CEO. It sets the strategy, sponsorship, and creates dialogue between other employees and some of our diversity efforts into the management team in terms of being able to have a real-world perspective as to what's really going on. So that executive committee sets that strategy, as I mentioned, and sponsors the overall program.

By recognizing that without having the belonging part, you could create an environment that doesn't necessarily walk the walk. But at the second level, we've got a diversity, our DE&I steering committee that's made up of a broad diverse group of employees, most of which are either leaders or active members of our employee lead ERGs.

And those ERGs host events and share information and drive awareness to inform the company's broader work that we do around any diversity, inclusion, belonging. They also inform our policies and practices. We've got some real-world experience where employees who participated in ERGs helped to uncover the fact that maybe our policies related to leave were not as understanding as we thought they might need to be.

PE: What's some of the advice you would offer executives who are looking to build similar workspaces?
Harvey: Well first, you must approach diversity at a couple of different levels. At the beginning, you, as an executive, need to be willing to look at your own unconscious biases and recognize that not everybody acts and thinks like you. I'm a gay man that grew up in the southern United States. I’m sure you can think of some of those stereotypical types of items that we want to label the south with. And some of them end up being what I might have experienced, and some of them are not anything close to what I experienced. Exposing ourselves and going through an unconscious bias training, reading, or listening to podcasts, you must educate yourself on where you might have some blind spots as an individual.

And then, particularly as a leader, you must look out across the population of employees that you're working with. Instead of trying to separate yourself from it, try to build a little bit of a better understanding. One of the ways that I do that is I incorporate a lot of skip level meetings into my management style. I have my formal leadership team meetings and formal all-team meetings, along with an extended leadership group too. I also probably meet with at least 20 or 30 employees on a regular basis at a skip level, even if it's only a couple times a year to just make sure that I understand what their perspective is, as an employee, as a worker and as an individual.

Recent Videos