All In: Leading Greenphire’s Commitment in Diversity & Inclusion

February 07 2021

On June 15, 2020, I started working for Greenphire as a Treasury Associate in our Finance and Accounting Department. Before Greenphire, I have had prior experiences in banking, investments, and accounting. I have also participated and led various multi-cultural and diversity organizations.

Recently, I was incredibly privileged to be given an opportunity to lead alongside Zach Hales (Associate Director of Product Management – ClinCard) in Greenphire’s Diversity Committee Initiative. As a Co-Chair for the All In Committee, I feel honored that Greenphire has provided me the opportunity to work in leading innovative change in the industry. And here’s why.

My name is Angelika Mari Mendoza Morelos. Marie without the e, my mom wanted my Tagalog roots to be instilled in my name’s spelling. I immigrated to this country on the breezy spring morning of April 18, 2010. As someone who had never seen snow and had lived in the 80-100° tropics for most of my life, 2010 Spring was way too cold! (It was only 60 degrees 😊). I am glad to say that I have adjusted from the temperature of growing up in another, warmer country. However, the next chapter of my life did not come without any hurdles – past experiences have led me to feel different. I have been called “Fresh Off the Boat,” a “Token Minority,” a “Stupid Filipino,” white-washed, and many other things that have made me feel excluded. Although these words may be hurtful or insensitive, my past experiences shaped me into who I am today. I channeled all these words to find values I highly regard and lifetime commitments I hold dear – compassion, diversity, and inclusion.

Greenphire Is “All In” for Diversity

Here at Greenphire, we share the employee values of being All In, As A Team, For A Purpose, Solving Problems. Connected to our company values, is Greenphire’s deep commitment to enhancing diversity and inclusion, not just internally with our employees but also externally with our clinical trial partners, research sites, CROs, and participants. We recognize the importance of fostering diversity and equality in these settings to increase the efficacy of clinical trials and to create proportional distribution amongst the broader clinical trial participant population. Our team is committed to removing barriers of inclusion, including but not limited to language barriers, burdensome costs and logistics of clinical trials, and to increasing patient access using our ClinCard reimbursement solution as well as ConneX, our expert travel service.

The mission of our employee group, the All In committee, is “…to foster an environment that attracts the best talent, values diversity of life experiences and perspectives, and encourages innovation in pursuit of mission.” Our objectives include cultivating equality and diversity within the company as well as in the industry and promoting diversity and inclusion in clinical trials.

The committee provides three areas or employees to make an impact – HR/Training, which is committed to training our employees and ensuring that we are promoting diversity in the hiring process; Employee Engagement, which is comprised of planning internal events and education on diversity and inclusion; and Marketing, which is committed to fostering awareness outside of our company through thought leadership, including PR and webinars. The individual members of this committee are highly motivated and incredibly intelligent. I genuinely appreciate their commitment to working on this initiative as well as the chance to spend time with my colleagues working on a noble mission together while in a remote work environment.

Participating in the Industry Conversation: Challenges + Opportunities to Improve Diversity in Clinical Research

As Co-leader of the All In Committee, I have been able to participate in numerous internal and external activities relating to diversity and inclusion. Just a few weeks ago, I attended the Society for Clinical Research Sites (SCRS) SitesNow session, Diversity in Clinical Trials. Research sites, sponsors, and solution providers gathered and passionately explored challenges and opportunities to make a difference.

In this webcast, it was clear that there is a silver lining in the hardships of we have all undoubtedly experienced in 2020: the pandemic pushed diversity to the forefront and elevated its importance as a major priority within clinical trials. The industry must find ways to encourage participation of ethnic groups and other underrepresented populations. It is critical for the safety and efficacy of future medical treatments, including vaccines.

Although we agree on the overarching goal, there are longstanding challenges which have historically made achieving diverse trial participation difficult. A successful clinical trial identifies whether a new medical treatment is viable, so obstacles to being inclusive that mission must be identified and elevated from day one.  Often that centers on diverse site selection and providing tools for sites to remove participant barriers, which can be many. As we know, participants may not trust the overall trial process or live close to the site, speak English as their first language, have the ability to take off for clinical trial appointments and much, much more.

To address these issues, those who gathered for SitesNow discussed ways to improve diversity. The attendees implored the industry as a whole to be more culturally sensitive, and as one concrete example of what can work, sites talked about their experience in hiring medical professionals who have an open understanding of another culture’s apprehensions, diet, and language. Also important to improve the patient experience is to add inclusive language to materials such as flyers, consent forms, and participant journals.

During the brainstorm, a lot of discussion was held around building trust. To build trust around underrepresented populations, the industry should create more awareness and education about research opportunities and when doing so, use word-of-mouth as a marketing strategy, show ethnic diversity in clinical trial advertising and have a multicultural and/or highly-trained staff who understands customs of those of various cultural backgrounds.

Also suggested was focusing on diversity much sooner in the process, especially recruiting diverse participants during phase one of the study. This would ease the sites’ burden of trying to add diverse populations later. Sites also need the support of sponsors; when the sites’ voices are heard, they are able to have the tools needed at the outset to be successful in recruiting and retaining diverse participants.

All In: As Colleagues and Making a Difference in the Industry

I was humbled to hear other peoples’ stories and experiences during this SCRS SitesNow meeting. It reaffirmed for me how important our work at Greenphire is in removing site and patient burden, as well as our All In Committee mission to promote diversity and inclusion within our organization.

I am truly thankful that Greenphire fosters such growth for their employees and creates innovative ways to improve diversity and inclusion. I hold these personal values deeply. We may have differences in our thoughts, strengths, perspectives, and multicultural, socioeconomic, and sexual orientation backgrounds, but we all share one thing in common—we are all human beings who deserve to be seen, heard, and valued regardless of our differences.

At Greenphire, employees share four key things in common: We are All In. As A Team. For A Purpose. Solving Problems. I am grateful to be working for a company that spreads diversity and inclusion for humanity. And, we really are “All In!”

Mari Morelos
Treasury Associate + Co-Chair All In Committee
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