Strength through diversity

Why people should be at the heart of a forward-thinking contract research organisation.

In the constantly shifting world of pharmaceutical and food science, modern companies need to respond to influential market trends – often before they fully emerge. This is an everyday challenge for Reading Scientific Services Ltd (RSSL), an analytical, training and consultancy specialist based in Reading, UK. But the 300-strong team believes one of its core corporate values holds the key to building an agile organisation, with the capability to adapt to changing client needs.

"We are only as good as the sum of our parts, so we actively encourage diversity," explains Managing Director Jacinta George. "The different personalities, backgrounds and experience in our laboratories combine into a rich tapestry of knowledge. This means we can resolve important industry or client issues together; as a collaborative team of physical chemists, analytical chemists, microscopists and biologists."

This inclusive approach at RSSL naturally extends to gender diversity; effective policies are in place to address key barriers and make working possible for all its staff. A move that is all the more impressive given that the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Breaking Barriers report recently found that 74% of respondents working in the chemical industry have seen evidence of a lack of progression and retention for women outside academia.

"Our leadership team is made up of two men and four women," George says, and women account for 65% of employees overall. "We continually evolve our infrastructure to reflect the reality of peoples’ lives and responsibilities outside the workplace – which may mean caring for young children or elderly relatives. We don’t expect people to work within a rigid framework; we recognise that everyone needs a certain amount of fluidity. That’s why we open our doors at 6am and don’t close until 9pm. As long as the job gets done well, the exact working patterns of individuals are not an issue."

Published in January 2019 issue of Chemistry World. Read full article here.

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