Amgen has grown to be one of the world's leading independent biotechnology companies, has reached millions of patients around the world and is developing a pipeline of medicines with breakaway potential. Gregory M. Zinkl, Ph.D., J.D., speaks about his viewpoint as Employee Resource Group lead for their South San Francisco campus, as well as insights from regular meetings with their global chair and peer leads throughout the country.
Five questions with Gregory M. Zinkl, Ph.D., J.D., Amgen
1. Can you name an LGBT+ person who has inspired you in your career?
I was going to answer with one of my professors at Harvard, but they never came out. But when I was struggling with coming out in my early 30s, reading about composer Benjamin Britten’s life and his relationship with Peter Pears, was inspiring. Britten was such a brilliant composer, as facile with composition as Mozart, and dedicated to Pears. He and Pears managed to fashion a great life together, even though being homosexual was outlawed in Britain at the time. Britten had significant challenges, which he channeled into his music.
2. How can an organisation encourage LGBT+ equality, inclusion and diversity?
By being a welcoming place for everyone, not just LGBTQI+, but all of the rest of the spectrum, and have people out throughout the organization, not just the top echelons, but at every level.
3. What do you do, in your organisation or outside, to inspire the next generation of LGBT+ talent?
In the Employee Resource Group (ERG) I lead, we have a significant emphasis on helping. We pick activities that help those in need, such as the homeless (LGBTQ are over-represented in the homeless population), or challenging our colleagues to talk about uncomfortable topics that need normalization, such as mental illness (LGBTQ are 3-6 times more likely to have a mental illness at some point in their lives). By reaching out, we help remember and appreciate how we have so much, and how much we have to offer to whatever community/population that we have.
4. What are your top tips for LGBT+ people coming into the workplace now?
Join the ERG! Actually, be out, be available, be generous, even with those who are scared of you.
5. Pride is a balance between celebration and remembrance for the fight to get to where we are today. What does Amgen-ASF do during Pride month?
Throughout the corporation, there are Pride flag raising ceremonies and associated events. Many of the chapters participate in local Pride festivities, including running booths that promote Amgen and participating in parades. As a smaller Pride ERG, PRIDE-ASF held a flag-raising ceremony, followed by a lunch for fellowship, and we sponsored a media campaign, featuring slides on explaining Pride month and its history and flag, as well as featuring famous LGBTQ scientists.