Illumina CEO Highlights the Company’s Efforts To Leverage Genomics for Good

At Illumina, we are driven by the power of genomics to positively impact the world and shape a more sustainable and equitable future for all.
Jul 7, 2022 11:00 AM ET
Photo: Francis deSouza, CEO Illumina
Photo: Francis deSouza, CEO Illumina

Originally published on Illumina: Genomics for good

We entered 2021 full of hope for a recovery from the pandemic, at the dawn of a new era of genomic medicine, and a recognition of the incredible opportunities for us to rebuild a healthier, more inclusive, and more sustainable global community.

In the past year, we saw countless examples of resilience, perseverance and progress as we continued to respond to the pandemic, push for greater equity, and protect our planet through genomic innovation.

Genomics has revolutionized response to the pandemic and the future of healthcare. The speed of development, and the high efficacy and safety of mRNA vaccines have been an unprecedented medical and scientific triumph. Genomics has now gone mainstream, and will be an increasingly critical part of public health, from fighting and preventing pandemics to revolutionizing diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease. We believe the life-changing benefits of genomics should be available to the many, not the few.

Guided by our Mission, we are taking action through our business strategy to Expand Access to Genomics, Empower our Communities, Integrate Environmental Sustainability, Nurture our People, and Operate Responsibly. We are working to expand access by enabling innovation and driving affordability, by broadening the reach of the genomic ecosystem, and ensuring equitable access with representative data to drive greater health equity.

This past year the world crossed a significant milestone for genomic testing, with over one billion people across 45 countries reimbursed for genomic tests, cancer therapy selection, genetic disease diagnosis, and non-invasive prenatal testing. We aim to reach two billion covered lives by 2026. Through innovation and investments in R&D, we are unlocking new possibilities for clinicians to power personalized medicine, improve patient outcomes, and drive down overall healthcare costs.

We expanded our operations with applications that build on the transformational impact genomics can provide for human health and the economics of healthcare. Our software portfolio has evolved to help geneticists and clinicians diagnose rare disease patients with Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies that provide genomic interpretation at scale. In 2021, we acquired GRAIL, and it remains subject to an ongoing merger review in the European Union. It is being held and operated separately. We believe our acquisition of previously-spun off GRAIL will ultimately accelerate access and adoption of a breakthrough multi-cancer early detection blood test. GRAIL’s Galleri® blood test can detect more than 50 types of cancer in asymptomatic patients, with the potential to improve patient outcomes and provide leaps forward in the fight against cancer.

By empowering our communities through philanthropic support, we are working to bridge the gaps for areas in need. In 2021, we committed $60 million of in-kind product contributions for a Pathogen Genomic Initiative (PGI) to help create a comprehensive pathogen genomic surveillance network to build critical public health capabilities. In its foundational year, we delivered close to $5 million in product donations to Africa and Southeast Asia. We also committed $120 million of product donations to support the launch of the iHopeTM Genetic Health initiative with a target of half of the donations outside the US and at least one-third dedicated to patients in Africa. The new effort aims to rapidly scale access to clinical whole genome sequencing at labs across the world and reach thousands of rare disease patients a year in resource-limited communities.

We deepened the integration of environmental sustainability with our updated climate action plan and Net Zero commitments. We set ambitious science-based emission reduction targets for our entire value chain as part of our overall business strategy to minimize climate risk, build climate resilience, and identify opportunities. In September, our targets were officially verified by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). This year, we reduced our global carbon emissions from our direct operations by 24%.

The exponential growth of Illumina provides expansive opportunities for our employees. Nurturing our people and creating an environment of inclusion is foundational to our current and future success. We continue to advance diversity and inclusion to create a culture of equity and belonging in our workplace, community, suppliers, and business partners. In 2021, we achieved 17% spend to diverse suppliers in the US. We expanded our employee resource groups with over 4,000 employees participating in diversity, equity, and inclusion programming and we are proud to have again confirmed a net zero gap in pay.

"As macro-trends resulting from the pandemic continue to shape the labor market, we are well-positioned to attract top talent looking for a purpose-driven company, strong business performance, flexible working conditions, and a responsible corporate citizen.”

Our current employees continue to report in quarterly surveys high Trust and Engagement Indexes of 90%, with 93% reporting they are proud to work for Illumina, and 92% reporting they believe Illumina values diversity. Our efforts are ongoing and we are committed to increasing the representation of women and ethnic and racial minorities in our workforce and leadership.

Operating responsibly as good corporate citizens, we do business in a way that reflects the very best of Illumina and honors the trust that patients, our employees, customers, community, and shareholders put in us. Our role as a genomics pioneer brings with it the responsibility to enable innovation for good with the technology we create, and the data collected is used safely, ethically, and responsibly.

Our holistic reporting strategy is designed to provide transparency on how environmental, social, and governance (ESG) topics affect our business internally, and how we impact the environment, and society externally. This year, we refreshed our materiality assessment to confirm the most material ESG issues and to remain attuned to our stakeholder feedback on where we can make the most impact. We continue to align our ESG reporting to the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), the Sustainable Accounting Standards Board (SASB) standards, and the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). We remain focused on supporting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the principles of the United Nations Global Compact.

As we look to the future, we view our CSR program through the lens of continuous improvement and we will continue to strive to be the best employer, the best environmental steward, and the best corporate citizen we can possibly be.

Many thanks to our partners, collaborators, and to the incredible researchers and clinicians we serve. A special thanks to our employees for helping Illumina thrive, for giving back to our communities, for taking care of one another, and bringing our Mission to life. Together, we are advancing genomics to improve human health and beyond.

Francis deSouza
Chief Executive Officer

To learn more, download the Illumina 2022 Corporate Social Responsibilty Report here