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Wistar’s Inaugural Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Survey Helps Chart a Path Forward 

December 7, 2023

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion has historically been a priority for The Wistar Institute. Creating a diverse and inclusive environment not only attracts top-tier talent, but it also supports innovation, creativity, and a commitment to collaboration amongst existing staff.

Since it was established in 2021, The Wistar Institute’s Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity (W-IDE) council, under the leadership of Dr. Jessie Villanueva, has been focused on further enabling an inclusive culture. As part of the effort, the Wistar Institute, recently issued a DEI survey to gather its staff’s perspectives on enabling a culture of equity, diversity and inclusion as well as establish a baseline for further evaluation long-term. Feedback from the W-IDE council was integral in the anonymous survey that was developed and administered by an independent consultant, ADI.

With a response rate of approximately 71% — a rate that surpassed many peer organizations at this phase — Wistar staff sent a clear signal that they value DEI initiatives and are engaged in the efforts. And the overarching results were encouraging: a strong majority (nearly 97% of respondents) agree that Wistar fosters a supportive, welcoming, and inclusive environment.

The survey included a total of 39 questions organized across six different categories. Responses were rated on a scale of one to eight, with a rating of “1” being the lowest and “8” being the highest.

“We want to be in the range of six to eight on the scale,” explained Dr. Villanueva during a presentation of the results. “Every single category that was surveyed had a score higher than six. That’s something that we can all be proud of.”

The category that had the highest score was manager and PI feedback. “That indicates that leaders in the Institute are being very effective, fostering an inclusive and diverse environment,” said Dr. Villanueva.

Another area of strength for Wistar is providing support opportunities for those who need it: The survey revealed that 90% of staff believe that they have at least one colleague that they can reach out to for support.

Vice president of Human Resources Jo-Ann Mendel emphasized that DEI efforts require broad support and collaboration to achieve the best outcomes. “This is not something that we can do ourselves. We need to build partnerships and make sure we all contribute to the success of these plans,” she explained. “Together we will be able to accomplish our goals.”

Moving forward, the W-IDE council is partnering with departments and stakeholders throughout Wistar to address some areas for improvement revealed by the survey. For instance, the results suggested that people felt that Wistar does not properly recognize and give credit to those who contribute to the success of the institution. “We heard you and we plan to develop better strategies to recognize those folks,” said Dr. Villanueva.

“This survey is just the beginning,” commented Dr. Villanueva. “We have established additional channels to provide for all members of the institute to give us additional feedback.”

For more information, or if you have any questions or comments about the survey or our plans to enhance diversity, please feel free to contact the W-IDE council at or leave us a comment online.