December 05, 2023

Walking the Walk: Authentic Allyship at Exact Sciences

At a live panel discussion, employees discuss what it means to show up for others. 

Employees gathered around a round table

Inclusive and supportive workplaces don’t just happen. They’re grown.  

Exact Sciences fosters a trusting environment where we care for, respect, and listen to one another. As part of that, we encourage allyship — when people, no matter their background, support and advocate for those in marginalized groups.  

 Workplace allyship includes good intentions and positive words, but it needs action. We created the Stories About Us conversation series to build understanding and empathy through content that elevates employee voices and experiences. At a recent live panel discussion, a group of team members chatted about what allyship looks like at Exact and how allies help create positive change. 

Peter Lohr, senior provider support inquiry specialist  

“Here at Exact Sciences, I’ve experienced a situation where allyship has helped me. I can’t control my transportation barriers, and there was an instance where I was having trouble and was showing up to work not on time. 

“To give you a little bit of background, in Wisconsin, if you have a disability, you’re eligible for a shared-ride program called paratransit. I use a wheelchair and also have visual impairments, so that makes me eligible.  

“To take care of transit, I had to leave my house two hours before my start time for a ride. But I was still showing up to work late, and it led me to get a warning related to that. I was able to approach HR with my supervisor at the time, and we were able to talk the problem through. Shortly thereafter, they changed the policy to be more lenient.  

“I don’t know necessarily if that conversation was the only reason for the change, but I know at that moment I felt a tremendous sense of allyship. I was really proud to work for this company because, from an organizational standpoint, it showed that it had an open mindset and was able to shift that mindset relatively quickly. It was really awesome — I get choked up talking about it.”  

T Sneed, laboratory service training administrator 

“I have had an ally on my journey to being fully and authentically myself, and she’s on this call right now. 

“Working in a fast-paced corporate environment was not on my bingo card as a child. Living to see age 29 was not, either, based on my experiences and the environment I grew up in. With this person, we share so many experiences and perspectives, but she recognizes where she holds privilege and uses that privilege to create access for me.  

“She speaks highly of me in rooms that I’m not in. She leaves space for me to experience emotions that people who look like me aren’t typically granted the space for. As so many things have changed for me, and as I learn more about myself and embrace myself more, she’s always seen me. I don’t have to be palatable or simple or small to get along with her. It takes so much strength and courage to show up like that for someone. To have someone who holds you and your community like that — it’s just so beautiful, meaningful, and special. That person is [Senior Administrative Assistant] Rachel Wimble.”  

Katie Boyce, senior director of corporate impact and community relations

“The corporate impact and community relations team leads nonprofit and community outreach. We act as allies by bringing our resources to partners in three areas: those that share our mission to help eradicate cancer, those that support communities where Exact Sciences has a physical footprint, and those that promote environmental sustainability. We support partners with financial resources, through employee time off for volunteering, and through our storytelling resources, talking externally about the great work we’re doing together. 

“Each of our communities has different needs, and so we approach them differently. So, for example, we work closely with the Marshfield United Way in Wisconsin for people who are unhoused. We do the same in Phoenix, but they have very different needs: One place has a very cold winter, and one has a very hot summer. It requires that we understand the communities that we’re talking to and that we listen to them.  

“We work to be community-centric in how we give our resources versus being a donor-centric giver that instructs community partners on what we want to see. We want our community partners — people who are in the communities and working to serve them — to be able to do their work the way they know best.”