“Standing together against injustice” – a message from Per Falk, President and Chief Science Officer at Ferring
The murder of George Floyd once again highlighted the deep racial injustice that exists in the US and around the world today. The violent death of an African-American at the hands of police has become an all too familiar scene, but what happened next was not. As I watch people come together to demand change across the world, I have been thinking about what I can do to actively oppose discrimination and oppression, and how we at Ferring can stand together against injustice.
So, what can someone like me do? Even though I abhor discrimination and oppression, have I helped enough throughout my life and career? These can be uncomfortable questions for those like me, who do not have first-hand experience of the injustices – large or small – that so many in the world endure every day for not being white, for not being a man, for not practising the ‘right’ religion, for not being heterosexual, or just for being poor. For those of us privileged enough not to experience discrimination in our daily lives, I believe that it is our responsibility to educate ourselves, to be open to hearing some uncomfortable truths, to recognise that we are part of the problem, and to find ways to become part of the solution.
I have also been reflecting on what Ferring can do to help bring about much-needed change – in the area of racial injustice and beyond. At Ferring, we are committed to building families of every shape and size, and we believe that no woman should die while giving life. Without gender equality, racial justice and health equality, we will never achieve these goals.
In our core area of fertility, black women and couples continue to be underserved. Women are underrepresented in medical research and clinical trials; this is even more pronounced if you are black, a member of an indigenous population or poor. Women in these communities are also more likely to have a poorer experience of healthcare during pregnancy, birth and post-delivery, experiencing higher levels of complications and mortality. In 2020, giving birth as a black woman is far more dangerous than giving birth as a white woman. Women in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia account for approximately 85% of global maternal deaths. In the US, black women are three times more likely to die than white women in childbirth.
At Ferring, we have committed to playing a role in reducing some of these disparities, in particular through our Project CHAMPION, aiming to reduce maternal mortality in low and lower-middle income countries. I am proud of this commitment but recognise that there is clearly much more to be done. Addressing disparities involves exposing structural inequalities across societies, education systems, healthcare systems and organisations. While these challenges may seem too big to solve, I believe that change starts with each of us, and with our own organisation.
At Ferring, we want to ensure that our work environment is safe, stimulating, rewarding and equal. However, I acknowledge that we can do more to be a truly diverse and inclusive company – an organisation where different minds, perspectives, backgrounds and skills create value and thrive together. Injustice and inequality are founded in conscious and unconscious bias. At Ferring, conscious bias will not be tolerated. At the same time, we must recognise that unconscious bias is part of all of us and come together to create awareness and ways to address this.
With this in mind, the Executive Committee will be discussing what actions Ferring can take to accelerate much needed changes in these areas. If you feel comfortable offering your own suggestions as to how we can reduce disparities in reproductive medicine and maternal health, and/or how we can do better at diversity and inclusion, we encourage you to share your valuable ideas.
As a personal commitment, it is my responsibility as the President of the Executive Committee to ensure that we learn, listen and take necessary action.
President & Chief Science Officer