Sunday, October 12, 2008

Cultural DNA - Genentech

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 14:  Pedestrian...Image by Getty Images via DaylifeThe mission of a company makes all the difference in the world; from creating the company to maintaining the culture. Values need to be part of the very essence of the company culture, just as DNA is the essence of what makes up every creature in nature.

A look at the culture of Genentech, in their own words.

Genentech's DNA

In 1976, Herb Boyer and Bob Swanson sat down over a couple of beers, scratched some notes on the back of an envelope and imagined a company that would change the course of medicine. They were driven by the excitement of revolutionary science and the prospect of helping patients to do something that had never been done before — use recombinant DNA technology to produce new medical treatments. Together, our founders and the early employees created a unique culture that supported their shared passion for making a difference.

Thirty-two years later, Genentech has approximately 10,700 employees. Although the company has evolved over the last three decades, we believe there is a "DNA" to our culture, an underlying code that stays fairly constant as we grow and adapt to changing circumstances. Below is how we think about these fundamental elements that have defined us from the start and upon which we continue build.

We Know Why We Come to Work Every Day (And It's Not the Free Espresso)

We don't wonder about the purpose of our jobs at Genentech. Helping people with difficult-to-treat diseases provides a common mission for all of us and drives us to work hard and with a sense of urgency. We focus our drug discovery efforts on unmet medical needs — serious or life-threatening illnesses where there is a need for safer and more effective therapies — because we believe these are the areas where we can make the biggest difference. We spend every day thinking about matters of life and death, and we feel a great responsibility to do our best work. However, we counterbalance this seriousness with an environment that is casual. For instance, most days you'll find our CEO wearing jeans and sneakers as he prepares his espresso, and it's not unusual to walk into the research labs and hear AC/DC blaring while scientists conduct experiments in search of important discoveries. We refer to this combination of gravity and informality as "casual intensity," and we believe it is part of what has made us successful.

We're Science Geeks (And Proud of It)

At Genentech,,we focus on basic scientific research that is rooted in our ever-increasing understanding of the biological and genetic basis of disease. We believe strongly that rigorous basic research is the key to identifying breakthrough medicines for patients. Indeed, we place science at the center of our business in a way that is more typical of research universities than drug companies, and our scientists publish in prestigious peer-reviewed journals like professors do. Furthermore, a scientific sensibility permeates the company and can be felt in daily interactions and communications. This sensibility is characterized by a dedication to rigor, accuracy and data in decision-making; a pride in our work combined with a profound sense of humility in the face of all we don't know; a commitment to intelligent risk-taking; a strong belief in the necessity of collaboration for producing the best thinking and work; and an irreverence that means employees regularly ask "why?" as well as "why not?"

We Each Have Different DNA (And We Like It That Way)

We place great importance on our employees, and we strive to make each individual feel valued for his/her contributions to the company's mission. From the start, we have known that we needed to recruit and retain highly talented people in order to do important new science and advance the world of medicine. We aim for every employee to feel that their unique ways of thinking are welcomed and that they can take the initiative to propose projects they believe are important to the company's success. We also encourage employees to bring their idiosyncratic and playful ways of expressing themselves and celebrating life to our demanding workplace. For this reason, you'll find employee-run clubs that run the gamut from African Americans in Biotechnology and VIDA (Latino Professionals at Genentech) to the Amateur Radio Club and the Belly Dancing Club. As a company focused on biology, we have a great appreciation for the diversity in both nature and human nature.

Benefits of Genentech


Employee Associations
such as African-Americans in Biotechnology; Filipino Americans Coming Together at Genentech (FACT); Genentech Out and Equal; Developing the Next Generation of Leaders (NextGen); Latino Professionals at Genentech (VIDA); South Asian Network at Genentech (SANG); and Solidarity in Appreciation for Genentech Experienced Seniors (SAGES) are company sponsored.

Ho-Hos. Friday evening socials, called Ho-Hos, offer employees a chance to socialize with colleagues and friends.

Parties. Company-wide celebrations in honor of corporate milestones.

Education and Training

Books and journals can be checked out at two 24-hour libraries which stock Genentech-related literature, as well as personal reference books and audio-books for commuters.

Training. Computer training, Personal Growth, Career Management and Diversity training are only some of the ongoing, onsite courses available to Genentech employees.

Tuition Assistance Program reimburses 100% of costs, up to $10,000 a year, for tuition, books, and lab fees for courses related to your career, after one year of service.

Family/Child Care

Adoption Assistance.
Genentech reimburses up to $5,000 of expenses for each legal adoption and gives six weeks paid leave to the primary caregiver.

Child Care. Genentech offers nearby childcare in South San Francisco for employees' children aged six weeks to six years on a first come, first served basis. 2nd Generation, the onsite facility in South San Francisco, is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Genentech offers back-up child, adult and elder care services so that employees have affordable access to caregivers whenever their normal arrangements are unavailable. The back-up care program provides access to a nationwide network of quality, licensed and trained in-home elder and childcare providers, as well as hundreds of Bright Horizons childcare centers across the country.

Domestic Partner Benefits are provided for same sex and opposite sex domestic partners and their eligible children.

Family Events sponsored by Genentech on a regular basis include Bring Your Daughters and Sons to Work Day and the Holiday Party.

Lifeworks Program counselors provide resources and referral services for adoption, elder care, child care, selecting a school, anticipating college finances, and child safety.

Mother's Rooms are provided in Oceanside, South San Francisco and Vacaville for mothers who are nursing.

Genentech's Employee Assistance Program offers free, confidential counseling for personal issues such as marriage and family relationships, substance abuse, stress, anxiety, depression or loss of loved ones.

401(k) Trip+ Plan. You may defer up to 50% of your pay either as traditional pre-tax 401(k) contributions or as Roth 401(k) contributions (subject to IRS restrictions) and Genentech will match your contributions dollar-for-dollar up to a maximum of five percent of your eligible compensation. In addition, Genentech provides a discretionary two percent annual non-elective contribution for all employees, regardless of whether or not they actively participate in the 401(k) Plan.

Banking. Personal banking is available at the onsite credit union SafeAmerica or at two onsite ATM machines.

Cellular phones for business or personal use from AT&T Wireless at special corporate rates.

Discounts are available for Disneyland, SeaWorld, SF Museum of Modern Art, the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, Marine World and free sneak-preview movie passes.

Donations between $25-$500 from employees to Genentech-eligible charitable organizations are matched annually.

Flexible Spending Accounts are available to lower taxable income by setting aside pre-tax dollars to pay for eligible childcare and health care expenses not reimbursed by our plans.

Legal Services. Discounted legal services, including telephone advice and office consultations, are offered through an extensive network of attorneys.

Life Insurance is an option available for you, provided by the company. Employees and dependents may choose to purchase additional coverage as well.

Long-Term Care Insurance is available for you and your eligible relatives through discounted payroll deductions.

Disability Coverage is an option available for your income protection in the event you are disabled.

Employee Stock Purchase Plan. You may allocate up to 15% of your pay to buy company stock at 85% of its fair market value and have it automatically deposited into your brokerage account.


specialists are available to evaluate your workstation and provide tools and equipment to ensure your workspace is ergonomically correct.

Flexible Credits are benefit dollars that can be used to offset the cost of healthcare, life insurance, accidental death and dismemberment insurance, and disability plans.

Flu Shots are offered annually through Health Services.

Health Awareness. Genentech sponsors regular onsite health seminars to help employees achieve and maintain good health.

Health Services. Onsite nurses provide flu shots, host blood drives, and support the occupational health of all Genentech employees.

Health Care Benefits. Genentech offers three medical plans, two dental plans, and two vision plans, to choose from. Spouses, domestic partners, and children under age 19 (or under age 25 if full-time student) are covered under the plans you choose.

Pet Insurance is available for employees who are pet owners at reduced rates through convenient payroll deductions.

Weight Watchers. Onsite programs are offered around campus and Genentech pays 50% of the cost.

Working Out. Genentech offers diverse fitness options for each location. South San Francisco employees benefit from the onsite Club Genentech, which is available to employees at no cost. Employees in Vacaville and Oceanside enjoy free membership to a local health club. The company reimburses field sales employees for individual memberships at a health club of their choice.

Other Benefits and Services

Beverages. Espresso is free with do-it-yourself machines conveniently located in most buildings. Coffee and a large assortment of teas are also free and available in all buildings and cafeterias. Iced tea is free in all cafeterias.

Cafeterias throughout the South San Francisco campus, in Vacaville and in Oceanside offer a delicious selection of ever-changing dining options. Award-winning chefs create a wide variety of food options including a daily Weight Watchers special and the pricing is subsidized by the company.

Casual Dress Genentech's work environment is "dress down" every day.

Concierge Service Genentech employees have free access to a full-service concierge, available to assist with any number of tasks, from planning a special celebration or off-site meeting to finding hard-to-get event tickets.

GenenStore. Employees in South San Francisco can visit the GenenStore, and all employees can access the GenenStore online for a wide variety of Genentech merchandise.

Grab & Go. Great food and beverage options, including take-out meals for you or your family, are available on the run at several Grab & Go locations. Starbucks coffee and beverages are also available for purchase.

Internal Transfer Process helps employees (who have been in their current position at least one year) look for career growth opportunities within the company.

Onsite Services are available to save time and effort. In South San Francisco, employees can get their car washed while at work, or get a haircut in the mobile salon. Employees can drop off their laundry, purchase flowers, or stop by the seasonal produce stands located in each cafeteria. An onsite dental van provides full service dental care in South San Francisco and Vacaville.

Rewards and Recognition

Anniversary recognition awards for 3, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 years of service at Genentech.

Bonus. The Corporate Bonus Program supports Genentech's strong belief that employees should share in the Company's success and be rewarded for their contributions to Genentech's performance over the past year. The bonuses are based on bonus goals that reflect Genentech's achievement of key milestones in our Corporate Strategy and Long Range Plan, as well as individual performance.

GenenChecks are cash bonuses focused on recognizing and acknowledging key contributions and accomplishments of special value to Genentech that are above and beyond an employee's regular responsibilities.

Referrals. The employee referral program awards up to $2,000 to the referring employee of a new hire.

Stock Options. The DNA Stock Option Program is intended to align employees with Genentech's business objectives and to encourage employees to think and act like owners. Stock options are a key component of an employee's total compensation package, designed to deliver long-term incentive value.


Genentech's Employee Transportation program, gRide, provides flexible and convenient services and incentives designed to support employees getting to and from work and around the Genentech campuses without having to drive alone or to even drive at all. By choosing gRide, employees can save time and money by sharing a ride to work and using carpool lanes, as well as avoid stress and traffic by using public transit.

The following is an overview of the many programs and services we have to help employees discover a convenient commute option that fits their unique lifestyle:

  • Comfortable, WiFi equipped GenenBus coach services to select neighborhoods throughout the greater San Francisco Bay Area;
  • Convenient connections to public transportation in South San Francisco, Oceanside and Hillsborough;
  • Reliable and quick intra-campus shuttle service in South San Francisco;
  • gRide Rewards offers a $4 per day incentive and a $115 transit and vanpool subsidy for all South San Francisco employees who participate in commuter programs;
  • gRide Rewards for South San Francisco drivers offers a $2 per passenger trip incentive for carpool and vanpool drivers up to a maximum of $32 per day;
  • gRide Hotline for questions and customized commute planning assistance for South San Francisco employees;
  • Ride Planner, an online tool to help employees find convenient commute options based on where they live and work;
  • Rideshare, a new and innovative way to connect carpooling coworkers who live in many neighborhood using a cell phone and simple text message commands;
  • Genentech's Guaranteed Ride Home program to get employees home quickly via a taxi should an emergency arise, such as a sick child at home or even an employee has to stay late at work unexpectedly;
  • The WageWorks program, allowing employees to purchase transit and parking passes with pre-tax dollars saving approximately 40% off transit pass purchases. Employees working in South San Francisco and participating in the Commute Program receive a company subsidy, up to the monthly pre-tax limit, on the value of transit tickets or vanpool costs instead of using their own pre-tax dollars. This non-taxable subsidy does not apply to the pre-tax parking allowance.
Vacations/Time Off

Holidays. Twelve paid holidays are offered per year, ten of which are scheduled and two are floating days.

Leave of Absence may be provided for adoption, family care, maternity, medical conditions, military, parental care or personal leave.

Sick Time. Short-term and long-term disability plans are available.

Vacation. Employees receive three weeks paid vacation per year. In addition, each year during annual benefits enrollment, employees may purchase up to three extra days of vacation for the following year.

Sabbatical. Regular full time employees who work at least 30 hours per week earn six continuous weeks of paid time off after every six years of continuous employment.

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