A DEI Success Story: The BioNTech & Pfizer COVID Vaccine

by | Oct 15, 2022 | Diversity & Inclusion Strategy | 0 comments

Covid produced a DEI success story.  2 companies raced to be first to market with the COVID vaccine.

“I am prioritizing so many other issues right now. D&I just isn’t one of them.”
                                                                              – quote from an overwhelmed CEO

The University of Copenhagen invited Inclusive Matters to speak at The Digital Tech Summit invited Inclusive Matters to speak about the strategy behind Diversity & Inclusion in organizations.  We presented this case story.

Spoiler Alert*
The diverse backgrounds of a company’s founders shaped smarter decisions, while their rival’s lack of inclusion led to FDA delays, costing crucial time-to-market. Ultimately, the company generated twice the revenue of its rival.  Check out this D&I Case Story.


The Power of Inclusive Practices in Uncertain Times

In a video titled “Why Don’t We Connect Some Dots Together,” Chandre from Inclusive Matters illustrates how companies’ approaches to diversity and inclusion directly impacted their business results during the COVID-19 vaccine race. By contrasting the experiences of BioNTech and Moderna, the video highlights the tangible value of embracing inclusive practices, especially in times of crisis and uncertainty.

The DEI Success Story of Two Vaccine Makers

In times of uncertainty, companies that embrace diversity and inclusive practices can gain a competitive edge. Let’s explore how two pharmaceutical companies, BioNTech and Moderna, navigated the COVID-19 vaccine race, and how their approaches to diversity and inclusion impacted their business results.

Connecting the Dots: Diversity, Inclusion & Business Results

BioNTech: A Model of Inclusive Practices
  • BioNTech, a German company, partnered with the American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.
  • Their leadership team was multicultural, with founders of Turkish descent and a Greek-American CEO at Pfizer.
  • During vaccine trials, BioNTech proactively ensured diversity among its test subjects:
    • 40% were ethnically or racially diverse globally.
    • 30% were racially diverse in the American market.
Moderna: A Lesson in Inclusivity Oversight
  • Moderna, an American company, initially overlooked diversity in its vaccine trials.
  • The FDA demanded they slow down to include more minority groups.
  • Only 7% of Moderna’s test population was Black or African American, despite making up 13% of the US population.
  • This oversight caused delays and negative publicity for Moderna.

The D&I Impact on Business Results

  • Pfizer’s vaccine, developed with BioNTech, was the first approved in the US and EU.
  • Moderna gained approval five months later, losing out on early contracts and trust-building opportunities.
  • In 2021, Pfizer’s vaccine generated $36.7 billion in revenue, compared to Moderna’s $18.5 billion.

Success Story: Inclusive Practices Drive Success

The contrast between BioNTech and Moderna highlights the tangible impact of inclusive practices on business success, especially in times of crisis and uncertainty.

  • BioNTech’s inclusive leadership and proactive diversity efforts allowed them to identify potential blind spots early on.
  • Moderna’s oversight led to delays, negative publicity, and missed opportunities.

“Everything we do either builds up or erodes inclusion in our environment.”
                                                                          – Chandre Torpet, Inclusive Matters

Companies that prioritize diversity and inclusion are better equipped to navigate uncertainties, identify blind spots, and ultimately drive better business results.



Inclusive Matters:  Turn your D&I efforts into measurable business results.


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