The 2021 Top 15 Champions of Diversity Make Global DE&I a Reality

Quita Highsmith Co-Founds Advancing Inclusive Research at Genentech

Quita Highsmith is Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer at Genentech. She co-founded Advancing Inclusive ResearchTM (AIR), Genentech’s initiative to address barriers to clinical research participation for underrepresented groups. Successes include founding an External Council for Inclusive Research with leading experts in the field to find solutions that will help tackle barriers and define the next era of clinical research, and working with the medical team to launch CHIMES - a Phase IV study evaluating disease activity and neurological biomarkers in African Americans and Hispanic people with relapsing multiple sclerosis. Genentech also conducted a landmark Health Equity Study that revealed there is a crisis of trust in the healthcare system for medically disenfranchised communities. Under Quita’s leadership, Genentech also issued its inaugural D&I Report, launched 2025 D&I Commitments and started Dialogue Circles to provide opportunities for safe discussions on D&I topics at work.

Quita reports directly to the CEO, demonstrating senior leadership’s unwavering commitment and support for D&I, and enabling embedding an enterprise-wide D&I strategy. She encourages employees to be changemakers and promoters of positive change. Quita sees her role as changemaker, advocate, advisor, educator, truthteller, data story communicator, disrupter, influencer and therapist. She sits on the D&I committee for the global Roche organization to leverage best practices from all corners of the world.

  • Favorite Quote: “The future never just happened. It was created.” — Mae Jemison