9 February 2021

Biotech company funds research project on diversity


In collaboration with Genmab, a new anthropological postdoc project at the Department of Anthropology will now explore and help develop the company's efforts to ensure a diverse and inclusive workplace.

Genmab Copenhagen
Photo: Joost Melis

The international biotech company Genmab has made it possible for the department to employ PhD in Anthropology Thomas Scott Hughes for a two-year postdoc project.

The project will focus on strengthening diversity and inclusion at Genmab. Genmab is experiencing strong growth and is interested in new knowledge on how the company can best attract and support a diverse workforce with an inclusive work culture in order to boost innovation.

“We operate in a global market where there is intensified competition in terms of attracting and retaining talent. We believe that workplace diversity and an inclusive work environment are prerequisite for the continued success of the company,” says Vibeke Didriksen, Senior Director, Head of Global Talent Management at Genmab.

Agreement after dialogue with AnthroAnalysis

Associate Professor Kasper Tang Vangkilde, who heads the department’s specialised unit for applied collaborations, AnthroAnalysis, has established the contact between Genmab and the Department of Anthropology.

At the beginning of last year, the two parties initiated a series of talks, which identified common interests in the research area known as D&I (diversity and inclusion - see box).

"We are pleased to be able to start a longer research collaboration with a private company of Genmab's calibre and attract such a strong candidate for the project as Thomas Scott Hughes, who, with one leg in the research world and another in consulting, has the right profile to carry out the task,” says associate professor Kasper Tang Vangkilde.

“This project is also another clear sign that anthropology has become respected in business. We hope that the project will be one of many to come where anthropological research goes hand in hand with the development of organisations and business.”

Back to research

American-born Thomas Scott Hughes received his master's degree from the Department of Anthropology in 2013. After years working as a research fellow at various research institutions, in 2014 he began work on an anthropology PhD project focusing on ethnic minorities with disabilities with full funding from a grant from the Ministry of Social Affairs.

What is really exciting about this project is the opportunity to combine in-depth academic research with the development of practice-oriented solutions for a private company.

Thomas Scott Hughes

For the past three years, he has been employed by the international consulting firm ReD Associates, where he worked with strategy development for large companies and NGOs. He was also chair of the Anthropologists' Association in Denmark from 2015-2019.

"What is really exciting about this project is the opportunity to combine in-depth academic research with the development of practice-oriented solutions for a private company," says Thomas Scott Hughes.

“By engaging with Genmab's organisation over the next two years and conducting qualitative interviews, surveys and observations of the company's working life, including their D&I initiatives, I will be able to develop both a strategic perspective on how best to promote diversity and inclusion in a company like Genmab, and contribute new knowledge to organisational and business anthropology.”

Strengthening knowledge about diversity

The project adds to the activities that are unfolding in the research group for organisation and economy called OREO

at the Department of Anthropology. This subject area is a strategic focus for the department, with the ambition for anthropology to be more prevalent in relation to external companies and organisations.

“This new project also sharpens our profile in relation to work with diversity. Anthropologists have always dealt with diversity and dimensions of inequality in society, but it is new for us to focus on it specifically in business,” says Professor and Head of Department Bjarke Oxlund.