Diversity is a significant component of the Lab’s IDEA strategy for inclusion, diversity, equity, and accountability. Diversity refers to the variety of backgrounds, cultures, disciplines, and approaches to problem-solving. These differences supply the unique perspectives that drive innovation. Diversity applies to the way we work and to the ways we recruit, hire, and promote employees.
Deepti Tanjore is Interim Program Head of the Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts Process Development Unit, or ABPDU, and is a Research Scientist in Biological Systems & Engineering. She and her team are working with industry and academic institutions to produce bioproducts such as biofuels, biochemicals, and animal protein alternatives using mostly sugars and microbes. We asked Deepti for her thoughts on diversity at the Lab.
Elements: How do you define diversity?
Deepti Tanjore: As a scientist, I use statistics to understand data — I search for the peak of a bell curve. To be inclusive, I survey team members to identify the “peak”, or the most popular perspective of the time. However, I particularly seek the “tail” perspectives, as these outliers are key indicators of potential future opportunities. Manifesting diversity in teams, for me, is not a goal but a means to adapt and remain successful in the long-term.
Elements: How do you make your team atmosphere more inclusive?
Tanjore: An inclusive environment cannot be built overnight. I try to demonstrate transparency and build trust by sharing my performance review with my reports. An inclusive leader has to be an excellent listener. I ask my team, including interns, to set the agenda for our staff meetings. I ask “why” questions to reveal insights behind variegated opinions and generate a consensus. I offer one-on-one meetings so everyone has a way to share their thoughts.
Elements: What is your personal commitment to making IDEA part of the culture at the Lab?
Tanjore: Reaching out to a diverse candidate pool is the easier part of IDEA, and in the Biosciences Area we have a comprehensive hiring protocol. My team has been emphasizing on culture building. While we produce monthly posters to celebrate our demographic diversity, we discuss the history of the Lab to feel a sense of unity. Personally, I am committed to further honing my critical listening skills to ensure that my team’s diversity will flourish.