(Philadelphia, PA - June 2003)
The top companies ranked by industry participants in The Scientist's "Best Places to Work in Industry" survey value high ethical standards and integrity. The results are detailed in the article "The Pleasures and Perils of Scientists in Industry" appearing in the June 16, 2003 issue of The Scientist.
To find out what scientists think about their companies, The Scientist invited more than 25,000 readers to participate in the survey, garnering 1400 useable responses from scientists in industry working in the USA, Canada, and western Europe.
Ethical Standards Prove Most Important
The Scientist asked employees from life science corporations to evaluate their own workplaces and identify company characteristics they consider important. Six of the top 10 factors identified relate to integrity and work ethic, three of the top 10 relate to training, and only one mentions pay as a significant issue.
What workers want:...
Thomas Murray, president of the Hastings Center, a bioethics research institute in Garrison, new York says, "Researchers have been taught to value scientific integrity in all its senses-understanding the worth of scientific knowledge, discovery, and the appropriate crediting of writers and researchers."
And this is what The Scientists we surveyed value, even above compensation. "I have passed up increased pay offers in order to stay in this honest, comfortable and friendly atmosphere," says survey participant Richard Triglia, of Chemicon International, a California-based biotechnology company.
Top Ranking Companies
Pioneer Hi-Bred International, a subsidiary of DuPont, ranked number one among large companies for scientists to work for. The company strives to maintain a humble philosophy that reflects its Midwestern roots. "Our work ethic comes from when the company was founded from an earn-an-honest-living scenario," says Jim Miller, vice president of research and development. Pioneer developed a "Long-Look" philosophy back in 1952 as a backbone for company operations. "We take a long-term view of everything we do; we don't succumb to the short-term aspects," Miller explains.
The top ten large* companies for scientists:
1. Pioneer Hi-Bred, Des Moines, Iowa
2. Promega, Madison, Wisc.
3. Centocor, Malvern Pa
4. Biogen, Cambridge, Mass.
5. Invitrogen, Carlsbad, Calif
6. 3M, St. Paul Minn.
7. Lexicon Genetics, The Woodlands, Texas
8. Cephalon, West Chester, Pa
9. Quest Diagnostics, Teterboro, NJ
0. Roche, Basel, Switzerland
*Highest scoring companies with 500 or more employees
Even in the competitive biotech environment of North Carolina, Inspire Pharmaceuticals, the number one ranked small company for scientists, understands the importance of maintaining a positive work environment. "Management wants everyone to be comfortable here," says senior researcher Bill Eckert. Company president Greg Mossingtherm adds, "We've focused on creating a team environment that results in rapid decision-making and our employees feeling like they are a major part of everything we do."
The top ten small* companies for scientists:
1. Inspire Pharmaceuticals, Durham, NC
2. TransForm Pharmaceuticals, Lexington, Mass.
3. Avalon Pharmaceuticals, Germantown, Md.
4. OpenEye Scientific Software, Sante Fe, NM
5. Ambion, Austin, Texas
6. JRH Biosciences, Lenexa, Kansas
7. Acambis, Cambridge, UK and Mass.
8. Serotec, Oxford, UK
9. Biosource, Camarillo, Calif.
10. Sugen, S. San Francisco, Calif.
*Highest scoring companies with less than 500 employees
With 10,000 employees at its Swedish site alone, AstraZeneca, chosen as the best non-US place to work in industry, understands that bureaucracy could easily stifle creativity. "When we ask our workers what they want, it's always 'being able to contribute and to create an environment where ideas can come to the surface," says Malcolm Hurrell, HR vice president at the company's London headquarters.
The top five non-US* companies for scientists:
1. AstraZeneca, London
2. Solvay, Brussels, Belgium
3. Acambis, Cambridge, UK and Mass.
4. Serotec Technology, Oxford, UK
5. Novo Nordisk, Bagsvard, Denmark
*Includes non-US branches of US-based companies; merges branches in multiple non-US countries.
Some responses to the survey did point out some trouble spot. In the biotechnology industry, financial challenges and economic realities put a strain on researchers and resources. One survey participant at a major pharmaceutical company in London states, "We are being pushed beyond our limits to states of fatigue and breakdown, and extra hours and hard work is not appreciated, but expected." In addition to financial pressures, industry scientists face heightened public expectations.
Other respondents pointed to tension between scientific workers and business leaders, which have permeated the industry for the last 20 years. "The pharmaceutical companies' and other public corporations' first obligation is to stockholders," says Sam Salek, director of the center of Socioeconomic Research at Cardiff University's Welsh School of Pharmacy.
Survey participants also discussed uneasiness about conflicts between a company's public statements and its day-to-day management. This was particularly true regarding equity in pay, hiring, and promotional practices. "The benefits and initiatives instigated at corporate level HR are not fully implemented at company level, leaving a gap between plan and reality," says a worker in the British office of a major pharmaceutical company.
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