Good News: Fred Hutch first U.S. cancer center to pledge commitment to CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion

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Aug. 31, 2017
Fred Hutch first U.S. cancer center to pledge commitment to CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion

As a CEO Action signatory, President and Director Dr. Gary Gilliland has pledged Fred Hutch to these three core commitments.

Graphic by Joshua Belzman / Fred Hutch News Service

Fred Hutch first U.S. cancer center to pledge commitment to CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has become the first U.S. cancer center to join a growing coalition pledging to advance diversity and inclusion in the workplace. On Aug. 25, Fred Hutch President and Director Dr. Gary Gilliland joined more than 270 CEOs nationwide who have taken the pledge as part of the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion.

By signing on to this commitment, Fred Hutch pledges to take action to cultivate a workplace in which diverse perspectives and experiences are welcomed and respected, and where employees feel encouraged to discuss diversity and inclusion, Gilliland said.

As a CEO Action signatory, Gilliland has pledged Fred Hutch to three core commitments:

  • Make our workplaces trusting places to have complex, and sometimes difficult, conversations about diversity and inclusion.
  • Implement and expand education about unconscious bias.
  • Share best practices in fostering diversity and inclusion — and also share what hasn’t worked.
Dr. Gary Gilliland

Dr. Gary Gilliland

Fred Hutch file photo

“Diversity and inclusion can be challenging topics to address head-on, but by encouraging constructive dialogue about our differences, we can foster more productive engagement among faculty and staff,” he said. “I am proud that the Hutch is committed to cultivating a work culture in which employees can freely express themselves about issues that matter surrounding diversity and inclusion.”

Signing the pledge is “the beginning of Hutch’s journey to become a center of excellence for diversity and inclusion,” said Aiko Bethea, director of Diversity & Inclusion at Fred Hutch, who is overseeing the development of the center’s first enterprise-wide diversity and inclusion initiative. “The initiative is tightly aligned with the Hutch’s goals of being a high-performance organization, developing the diverse scientists of the future, and curing cancer for all, she said.

The collective of more than 270 signatories are sharing best practices, exchanging tangible learning opportunities and creating collaborative conversations via the initiative’s unified hub, CEOAction.com. Those who have signed the pledge will convene in November at a summit in New York City to discuss longer-term growth strategies that will advance the diversity agenda.

A diverse and inclusive work force facilitates community but also drives innovation and creativity. Research finds that diversity is a key component to fostering innovation.

The CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion, which launched in June, represents 70 industries in all 50 states, and millions of employees globally. Companies that have signed on include Fortune 500 businesses such as Cisco, Dow Chemical, HP, The Home Depot, Merck, Morgan Stanley, Staples, Target and Walmart.

Tim Ryan, the U.S. chairman of the accounting firm PwC, launched the initiative last year in the wake of a series of highly charged, race-related shootings involving the police.

“Wouldn’t it be great if all the CEOs of the Fortune 500, who employ millions of people in the United State, came together and acknowledge that, notwithstanding everything we’ve tried, we can do even more about race?” he told Fortune.

More information: CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion FAQ.

— Kristen Woodward / Fred Hutch News Service

Left to right: Dr. Jackson Orem, Uganda Cancer Institute executive director; Dr. Charles Olweny, the UCI's first Ugandan director and now chairman of the UCI board; Uganda Minister of Helath Jane Ruth Aceng; Dr. Bruce Clurman, executive vice president and deputy director of Fred Hutch; and Deborah R. Malac, U.S. ambassador to Uganda, at the Aug. 24 gala in Kampala celebrating UCI's 50th anniversary.

Left to right: Dr. Jackson Orem, Uganda Cancer Institute executive director; Dr. Charles Olweny, the UCI's first Ugandan director and now chairman of the UCI board; Uganda Minister of Health Jane Ruth Aceng; Dr. Bruce Clurman, executive vice president and deputy director of Fred Hutch; and Deborah R. Malac, U.S. ambassador to Uganda, at the Aug. 24 gala in Kampala celebrating UCI's 50th anniversary.

Photo courtesy of Sarah Ewart / Fred Hutch Global Oncology

Fred Hutch Global Oncology receives outstanding partner award at Uganda gala

At a gala dinner celebrating the Uganda Cancer Institute’s 50th anniversary, the UCI surprised Fred Hutch Global Oncology with an award for “Outstanding Partner in Modern Cancer Care, Training and Research.”

Dr. Bruce Clurman, executive vice president and deputy director of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, accepted the award from Uganda Minister of Health Jane Ruth Aceng during the dinner Aug. 24 in Kampala, Uganda’s capital.

Fred Hutch Global Oncology head Dr. Edus H. Warren, who goes by the nickname Hootie, and the program’s managing director, Sarah Ewart, joined Clurman at the gala. The Fred Hutch group also met with Aceng, Uganda Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda, Minister of Finance Matia Kasaijja and U.S. Ambassador to Uganda Deborah R. Malac to thank them for their support of the UCI-Fred Hutch collaboration.

Fred Hutch’s alliance with the UCI began with a small research pilot project in 2004 and was formalized in 2008. To date, the alliance has completed more than 30 research projects on five cancers — Burkitt lymphomaKaposi sarcomacervical cancer, breast cancer and Hodgkin lymphoma. It has enrolled more than 1,800 study participants and archived more than 160,000 research specimens. A recently announced study, funded by a $1.4 million grant from GlaxoSmithKline, will examine ways to improve diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer in Uganda.

In addition to research, the partnership has trained about a dozen Ugandan physician-scientists, who have returned to the UCI to practice after a year or more of study at Fred Hutch and the University of Washington. Many of them gave presentations last week at an international scientific symposium hosted by the UCI on its anniversary. The state-of-the-art UCI-Fred Hutch Cancer Centre opened in Kampala in 2015 to house all of the alliance’s activities under one roof: children and adult outpatient clinics, research laboratories and training.

In the days leading up to the new center’s opening, UCI director and esteemed cancer researcher Dr. Jackson Orem said of his Fred Hutch partners: “This is the first group who came to work specifically with the Uganda Cancer Institute.” Until recent years, few governments, organizations or scientists were aware that cancer was emerging as a public health threat in sub-Saharan Africa, much less working on research, prevention or treatment.

With the award on the UCI’s golden jubilee, Orem made his appreciation abundantly clear.

— By Mary Engel / Fred Hutch News Service


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