26 June 2023, Boston: Ginkgo Bioworks (NYSE: DNA), which is building the leading platform for cell programming and biosecurity, today published its 2022 Sustainability Report, Caring at Ginkgo, detailing the company’s views and progress towards addressing global challenges, such as climate change and biological threats, as well as outlining the practices supporting the organization’s commitment to thoughtfully deploy its platform, build a diverse and inclusive workforce, and continue to foster a culture of employee ownership.
“Synthetic biology gives us a key tool to address some of the major societal and environmental challenges the world faces today,” said Jason Kelly, CEO and co-founder, Ginkgo Bioworks. “As our platform continues to improve, we’re motivated by our opportunities to make an impact on the world, and we recognize our responsibility to act with care. Ginkgo can play an important role in helping our customers meet emissions reductions goals, and we are proud of our work to help governments around the world work to prevent and prepare for future biological threats.”
This year’s report comes as the White House and others are increasingly looking to synthetic biology and biomanufacturing as key to reducing global emissions, improving supply chain resilience, and advancing human health. As detailed in the report, Ginkgo’s platform helps enable leading pharmaceutical, food, and agriculture companies to develop more sustainable solutions.
Concentric, Ginkgo’s biosecurity business unit, is working to build critical infrastructure to monitor biological threats—supporting public health and national security. Ginkgo further developed and expanded its work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Traveler-based Genomic Surveillance program (TGS), publishing weekly variant analysis, developing new tools and methodologies for monitoring aircraft wastewater, and demonstrating proof-of-concept for additional pathogen monitoring. Ginkgo also announced the creation of ENDAR, a tool that could help deter misuse of engineered biology, in partnership with the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA). These developments are emblematic of Ginkgo’s vision to build a global biological “radar” system to collect, organize, analyze, and operationalize data on a wide variety of biological threats.
The report also highlights how Ginkgo is strengthening its organizational processes to support its commitment to care how its platform is developed and used as the company grows. For example, last July Ginkgo employees elected nine representatives to its Caring Committee. The Caring Committee works with teams across Ginkgo to facilitate assessment, deliberation, and engagement about the potential impacts of our activities. A key operational component involves asking the critical questions about benefits, risks and unintended consequences, which are integrated within a Cost, Caring, and Risk Assessment (CCRA) scoping document that is part of our program launch process. Between their election in July 2022 and the end of Q1 2023, the Caring Committee reviewed over 100 CCRAs spanning markets including pharma, agriculture, bio-industrials, nutrition and wellness, government, and biosecurity. The committee facilitates a variety of strategies to promote benefits and mitigate risks, including designing alternative technical approaches, implementing legal guardrails, and working to identify experts and advocate for needs that span across multiple programs.
“Ginkgo is made of people and people are the most important element of Ginkgo’s platform,” said Jeannine Lombardi, Chief People Officer, Ginkgo Bioworks. “So much of what we do— from the forms of the technologies we build, to the impacts they have, to the partners we serve—depends on the composition of our team. That’s why we are intentional about the programs we implement and the investments we make in inclusion: to ensure that we are making choices consciously and in alignment with our values every day.”
In 2022, Ginkgo began leveraging non-traditional workforce development pipelines, including apprenticeships, co-ops, and summer internships. Working with MassBioEd and Northeastern University, Ginkgo hosted six apprentices from underserved communities during a 16-month program where four months of free, stipended classroom and laboratory education are followed by one year of paid on-the-job training at a company. Ginkgo also launched its first pay equity audit which determined that the unadjusted pay gap for female Bioworkers was 10.7% (compared to the national average pay gap of 16.3%), and after controlling for variables such as department, tenure, and job family, we found that the pay gap shrinks significantly and was close to or at parity on most teams. We continue to monitor employee compensation for pay gaps and make adjustments on a regular basis.
The report provides updates to Ginkgo’s inaugural Sustainability Report, which was released last year. Both reports are guided by key ESG frameworks and standards, as well as a third-party led materiality assessment informed by stakeholder engagement.
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