Prioritizing Diversity: DEIB at Amyris

December 12, 2022

With the world continuing to evolve, prioritizing diversity, creating an environment where employees feel like they belong is not only the right thing to do, but also good for business

The end of the year presents a moment to reflect on progress and look ahead to what comes next. When I look back at what we have accomplished related to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) in 2022, I feel proud of what we have achieved and energized for what comes next.

With the world continuing to evolve, prioritizing diversity, creating an environment where employees feel like they belong is not only the right thing to do, but also good for business. Research has found that diverse teams can boost productivity by 35%. A diverse workforce is more likely to understand the needs of your customers, and increase employee engagement, morale, and retention. A diverse workplace is critical for the health of your organization and happiness of your employees.

Since I was hired to lead Amyris’ global diversity strategy in March, I have designed, developed, and introduced a global framework focused on our workplace, workforce, marketplace, and community.

Amyris’ commitment to DEIB happened long before I was hired, but like most companies, our focus was on gender diversity, which is evident in our increase in gender representation over the past two years.

Currently, 56% of our global employee population self-identifies as female (up from 49% in 2020). Our 7% increase in female representation speaks to a workplace environment and culture that supports and empowers women. And although more than half of our company self-identifies as female, we will continue to push our ambitions much further on gender diversity and gender parity.

As we continue to build our global strategy, our goal is to be candid and transparent about our talent representation gaps across race and gender. Transparency expedites change because it accelerates accountability, confirms commitment, and propels people to advocate for themselves and others.

Since 2020, we have increased representation across our Black and Latinx ethnic groups – Black employees increased to 4.7% (up from 4.2% in 2020 and Hispanic or Latino employees – 10% (up from 7% in 2020) – but there is more work to be done. Representation only plays a small part in building a global diversity strategy. Our diversity team spent 2022 building relationships, creating awareness, and enhancing our employees’ understanding of DEIB. In my experience, building relationships and soliciting employees’ perspectives allows them to feel like diversity is something being done with them, not to them. We engaged over 200 employees at all levels of the company during our organizational assessment, one-on-one, and group conversations.

One of our first priorities was to help employees build community, and we did that through our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). In addition to ERG’s that were already established (OUT@ Amyris for LGBTQ+ employees and allies, and WEE (Women Empowering Each other), we partnered with employees to identify other employee communities who wanted to start ERGs. From those conversations, we launched Black@ Amyris (for our Black employees and allies) and Amygos (for our Latinx employees and allies).

We also introduced the following:

  • Designed and developed a three-year diversity strategy
  • Identified executive sponsors for our Black, Latinx and LGBTQ+ ERGs
  • Stood up a global diversity council
  • Designed, developed, and introduced an internal SharePoint site for all ERGs and our diversity team
  • Kicked-off panel discussions and celebrations in association with Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, Pride Month, Juneteenth, and Hispanic Heritage Month
  • Solidified our Affirmative Action plan, established ESG (Environmental, Social & Governance) diversity goals and established an Amyris scholarship fund for Black students focused on STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering or Mathematics) education.

As we head into 2023, we will continue to deepen our commitment to DEIB by focusing on laying the foundation for a successful, sustainable, and scalable strategy. This foundation includes: celebrating and amplifying the voices of our employee communities; embedding DEIB into the employee life cycle; introducing a diversity learning series; creating educational and engagement opportunities for employees and executives; introducing a monthly diversity learning series and monthly newsletter; increasing diverse representation; introducing a diversity scorecard that defines and tracks metrics, establish partnerships with diverse vendors; building an external diversity website that reflects our mission, vision, and values, and much, much more!

DEIB is foundational to our mission, vision, and values at Amyris, it is our competitive advantage. On behalf of leaders and employees across Amyris, I am excited about the progress we have made, and look forward to continuing this work in the future.

Solomon Wilkins is the Vice President of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging at Amyris. He drives the strategy and implementation of Amyris’ inclusion and diversity roadmap, including cross-functional programs and initiatives. 

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