I am Martin Rexroad, senior vice president in Human Resources for PTC Therapeutics. I want to introduce and explain our new Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) program and how it will advance what we have always been doing at PTC – now for a much larger team.

Q: Why is now the right time for a D&I program to launch at PTC?

A:  PTC has been evolving over the past 22 years. We have especially grown fast in the past few years. Adding more people. More research projects. More clinical trials. More products. We have grown from only a small molecule of a company to now include gene therapy programs and more.

We used to all fit in one large conference room. We used to speak with our CEO one on one in his office and in the hallways. Now – we need programs that have the same personal impact, even as we are scattered all around the globe. Programs that capture our culture. Our Expectations. Our mission. Our support for all employees. Programs that have always viewed employees as the combination of their heads, hands and hearts. People driven for a cause of serving patients. Now – we need to take the best aspects of big companies and infuse our programs with what we need to touch all employees around the world.

Why now? Because that is where this organization is on the evolutionary curve.

Q: What D&I measures has PTC undertaken in the past?

A: PTC’s mission, under our founder Stu Peltz’s leadership, has always had a special connection with our employees. We have always been a diverse company with an employee expectation – no, a requirement – to speak up. All topics are open for discussion. We have articulated our mission and dedicated our culture to serving patients with unmet medical needs.

A year ago, we added specific “PTC Expectations” which spotlight inclusion, trust and respect – core ingredients of any D&I program. In addition, we have an amazing Corporate Communications team that ensures we are connected with each other and our communities, and informed of what is happening. We have a #OnePTC community site, Yammer talent platform, employee spotlights, charity efforts, and numerous guest speakers at our “PTC University” lunch and learn sessions.

Q: What are your current initiatives to spread the message that diversity matters?

A:  When you are in the business of drug development, you need to identify the source of pain or the problem. It is in our DNA to talk to each other. To listen. To diagnose. To find effective solutions. One important current initiative has been collecting executives and key black employees together and engaging in listening sessions followed by action planning. The executives do the listening. Our key leaders do the planning – and our entire company will respond to address issues in the black community and beyond.

We have started a D&I Council, and D&I programs for women, LGBTQ employees, and recent graduates (with our Talent Pipeline Project). In addition, we have speakers addressing PRIDE month. We had our three female Board of Directors members speak at one of our most popular PTC University sessions. We have sponsored MassBio webinars focused on key D&I topics. And we are just beginning.

Q: Why is it important for business leaders to make D&I a top priority at growing companies?

A: I studied the history of the labor movement in college. The labor movement, in any country, is about fairness, a voice, fair compensation, equitable practices, and a means of being heard. At PTC, this has always been how we do business. However, in our local communities, this is not always the case. What is different in this moment in America is that better companies, like PTC, are starting to stand with the black community, the female community, the LGBTQ community – all identities to speak out about injustice.

Throughout the course of history, citizens have wanted to be heard and they have wanted a voice in how things are organized and governed. Employees have wanted the same at work. D&I programs target conversations for the people who often struggle to be heard, to be represented, to be treated fairly and to receive the same justice as others. If you believe in democracy, then you must believe in D&I as part of the journey for all people who are not only created equal, but who also deserve being treated as equal.

When all employees feel empowered, treated fairly, and heard, then our business can do anything. PTC prides itself on doing the impossible: Treating rare diseases through the evolution of science. We must stand with our employees as they do the impossible every day – and ultimately serve our patients.