diversity equity and inclusion
Insights & Trends

Syneos Shares 3 Pillars to Improve your 2021 Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Strategy

Syneos Health was the big winner again this year in our 2021 Best Places to Work in Medical Sales. What sets it apart from the rest? A big contributor is the company’s diverse and equitable culture.

This year, medical sales survey respondents noted commitment to diversity and inclusion as one of the most important qualities in an employer. Syneos Health is clearly doing the work to make diversity a top priority at their organization.

“As a leader in developing innovative solutions for the biopharmaceutical industry, we also strive to lead our industry in our diversity, equity and inclusion efforts,” said Ryan Maglione, Sr. VP Global Commercial Staffing and TSP. “We believe that addressing complex healthcare challenges requires contributions from diverse viewpoints and an inclusive, equitable space where each individual is able to thrive.”

Their diversity, equity and inclusion efforts are supported by a council of employees representing their global, regionally diverse workforce. The council provides strategic structure to enable internal progress toward their goals, and to positively impact their customers and communities.

Syneos Health identified three diversity, equity and inclusion pillars to support the intentional and thoughtful way they make a difference in the world: People, Customers, and Community. 

Employers can use these pillars to inspire actionable deliverables for their own diversity, equity and inclusion strategies. We’ve compiled some recommendations to get you started:


One of the action items in Syneos’ DE&I strategy is to increase diversity at the Director and above level. This is an important place to start because Black, Indigenous, and People of Color are severely underrepresented among senior leadership at most companies. 

In fact, Black professionals in 2018 held just 3.3% of all executive or senior leadership roles, according to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

While that number alone should be enough for companies to reevaluate their executive make-up, it’s also worth mentioning that diversity is critical to the bottom line. Companies with diverse executive teams, both gender and a mix of ethnicities, are more likely to outperform their peers on profitability, according to a 2018 report from McKinsey.

Syneos Health also launched Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), which are employee-led and company-supported groups that nurture an inclusive and diverse workplace. They are formed by employees who share characteristics or life experiences, and those who are allies to their communities. 

“The aim is to strengthen our Syneos Health community and solve business problems,” said Ryan Maglione. “We believe that ERGs enhance career development, drive business results and contribute to personal and leadership development.” 

Syneos Health formalized this program in 2019 and currently has four company-wide ERGs: Black, LGBTQIA+, Veteran, and Women.

According to Shelton Goode, Ph.D., more than 70% of the organizations they studied relied on their ERGs to build a workforce that reflected the demographics of their customer base. Additionally, at 90% of the companies, ERG members helped new employees to get comfortable during the onboarding process. Clearly, ERGs can be beneficial for both the employee experience and the bottom line.

Lastly, Syneos Health launched mandatory educational programs to help enable a culture grounded in respect and integrity. This includes unconscious bias training and annual code of business conduct and ethics training. These trainings are required for all employees globally.

According to the nonprofit Coqual, employees at large companies who perceive bias are nearly three times as likely to be disengaged at work. Implementing this training is another important step toward a more inclusive workplace.


As part of this second pillar, Syneos Health aims to advance their integrated approach to drive greater patient diversity in clinical trials.

According to a report by JAMA Oncology on the disparities in race reporting and diversity in clinical trials in the cancer field, only 63% of trials included any information about the participants’ race. Of those that were more specific about their participants, on average, 76.3% of participants were white, 18.3% Black, 3.1% Asian, and 6.1% Hispanic.

By not prioritizing patient diversity in clinical trials, results are skewed and therefore do not tell the whole story. Medical decisions are made centered on whiteness, even though health outcomes vary among racial and ethic groups, not to mention gender.

When prioritizing diversity in future clinical trials, it is essential to account for the differences among patients of these different backgrounds.


For the last pillar, Syneos Health is identifying organizations to partner with to help address key needs. These initiatives will focus on diverse communities through volunteering, charitable giving, and pro bono work.

Creating volunteer opportunities is an impactful way to get your workforce engaged in the community According to 2017 research by Deloitte, creating a culture of volunteerism in the workplace may boost morale, workplace atmosphere, and brand perception. 

The study also found that Americans would be more willing to volunteer often if they had a better understanding of the impact they were making. If you plan to incorporate volunteering into your DE&I strategy, make sure you plan to bring your employees along the full journey. 

Make sure they know why you picked certain organizations in your community, how it contributes to your company’s values, and what impact you’re making. 

This principle goes for charitable giving and pro bono work as well. While it is commendable to include these initiatives in your DE&I strategy, it is just as important for your employees, customers, and community to understand how your work aligns with your mission. 

Continue to share updates on your company’s impact in the community year over year to keep your employees engaged in the work.