Improving Diversity in the Life Sciences Industry
In order for the life sciences industry in Massachusetts to continue its success, equity, diversity, and inclusion cannot be just another initiative. It must be the backbone of company policy from the top-down and reflected in recruitment, retention, and promotion strategies.
Aside from being the right thing to do, there is ample reason for companies to seek diversity. Numerous studies are clear: more diverse businesses are more successful. Perhaps more importantly, in such a competitive environment, companies cannot thrive without drawing from the best talent on earth – no matter their gender, race, ethnicity, ability, religion, or otherwise.
MassBio is proud to take a leadership role in driving increased equity, diversity, and inclusion (ED&I) within the life sciences industry. To assist our members with achieving their ED&I goals, MassBio is here to:
- Meet with members to discuss roadblocks, progress, and strategy
- Serve as a resource and share best practices throughout our industry and across industries
- Bring together the life sciences community for inclusive, open, and productive dialogue
- Shift the mindset from D&I being ‘right-thing-to-do’ activities, to a good business decision for better patient outcomes
- Lead by example
We want to meet with you to learn more about your ED&I initiatives and discuss how we can help launch or strengthen them. Please reach out to our Director of Diversity & Inclusion, Edie Stringfellow to schedule a meeting.
There are so many great programs and organizations that support diversity and inclusion initiatives already in existence in Massachusetts and around the country. Below we have highlighted a select group we believe are doing great things in the life sciences and beyond.
Explore affinity groups
A national organization focused on substantially increasing the representation of American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, First Nations, and other indigenous peoples of North America in STEM studies and careers. AISES is dedicated to supporting early, mid, and executive professionals in STEM fields through professional development, career opportunities, networking, and research support to mentors who support professionals in STEM.
The mission of AWIS Mass is to support women in all scientific fields and to achieve equity and full participation for women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). By breaking down barriers and creating opportunities, AWIS Massachusetts strives to ensure that women in these fields can achieve their full potential. By joining AWIS Massachusetts, members have opportunities to advance their careers through professional development, mentoring, information sharing, outreach and professional networking in formal and informal social settings.
Atomic Hands is committed to increasing public access to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) through American Sign Language (ASL) and fostering collaboration and networking opportunities among current and future Deaf STEMists.
BWISE was founded with the purpose to support and develop underrepresented women by bridging the technical leadership gap through networking, mentorship, and career development. BWISE consists of women in middle management through senior leadership and entrepreneurship with STEM degrees. The organization provides a platform and a community to share career experiences as well as exposure to emerging technology and industry leaders.
The council is a public-private collaboration between the City of Boston and Boston University whose mission is to close the gender wage gap and remove the visible and invisible barriers for working women.
The CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion™ is the largest CEO-driven business commitment to advance diversity and inclusion within the workplace. This commitment is driven by a realization that addressing diversity and inclusion is not a competitive issue, but a societal issue. CEOs recognize that change starts with them. With more than 300 CEOs of the world’s leading companies and business organizations, their goal is to leverage their individual and collective voices to advance diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
An affinity group for professionals of color in the life sciences industry that is financially supported by Biogen, Pfizer, Sanofi Genzyme, Shire and Vertex, Color of Biotech creates a community within Massachusetts’ growing biotechnology sector that fosters collaboration, networking, support and innovation through BioDiversity networking events. This community fosters and promotes diversity and inclusion as a means to increase both the number of professionals of color in biotechnology and their career satisfaction.
CSweetener is dedicated to matching emerging female healthcare leaders new and near to the C-Suite with those who have successfully navigated this terrain and are eager to share their knowledge and experience. Its goal is to build lasting relationships among professionals that help women continue to become the best leaders they can be, whether they have already reached the C-Suite or are rapidly on their way there. CSweetener relies on a technology platform that allows for profiling, matching, virtual meeting and meeting tracking capabilities. They offer a social community that allows both mentors and mentees to engage with each other on an ongoing basis, along with a resource library of interesting articles and information.
NextGen Leaders Programs have college students and recent graduates with disabilities who have demonstrated talent and leadership in STEM. DiN collaborate with Corporate Partners to prepare for employment through mentorship, networking, and recruiting opportunities and can source talent through the resume database of current NextGen leaders and alumni.
The core purpose of the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA) is to further the advancement and impact of women in the business of healthcare. The HBA is a global, nonprofit organization that accomplishes its mission through strong business networks, education, research, advocacy and recognition for individuals and companies. When members of the HBA come together, it’s with a shared purpose: to be a united force for change. We connect diverse groups of both women and men, across all healthcare and life science disciplines. We believe that by joining forces in the relentless pursuit of gender parity, we are doing more than uniting individuals—we are strengthening the business of healthcare. The New England region and local Chapters coordinate various industry-specific programs and networking events. Two examples to highlight: The highly-applauded Mentoring Program, has built a community of over 1100 women who support each other’s career growth. Fit to Lead, HBA’s fitness-infused, leadership development journey connects learnings realized through training to personal and professional development.
The mission of MVPvets is to assist and prepare transitioning military veterans for meaningful employment in medical device/technology and life science companies. We have connected more than 4,400 military veterans across the nation with the resources, skills, and confidence to learn about and engage in meaningful careers. MVPvets brings veterans, mentors and employers together through job matching, one-on-one mentoring, and on-the-ground career-building endeavors.
A pioneer, first-in-kind, organization of Latino leaders and professionals in biotechnology and the life sciences in Massachusetts with the purpose to create a network that will generate business development, professional opportunities, and social exchange among its members. LiB also aimS to elevate the visibility and amplify the social capital of Latinos in the life-sciences sector in the state of MA and nation-wide and to forge a path for younger Latinos to enter the biotech/pharma industry and facilitate access to career opportunities.
Life Science Cares is a collective effort of the life science industry to end poverty in the greater Boston area. We harness the human and financial resources of life science companies and industry leaders to support service organizations that do the best work in fighting poverty and providing educational opportunities in our community. We work with organizations doing work in the areas of basic human survival (hunger, homelessness, domestic abuse, etc.), education (STEM education, college preparation and college success, educational enrichment, and inspiration, etc.) and sustainability (job creation, job training, mentoring, and economic development.)
Empowering lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer professionals in the drug development industry in the greater Boston area through networking, education, advocacy, professional development, and peer support.
In today’s global marketplace, multicultural leadership has become a critical business imperative. TPI has helped organizations build racially and ethnically diverse leadership pipelines. The work with companies to meet their unique management needs, providing customized programs for their top multicultural talent, as well as consulting services that improve organizational performance. Their client portfolio includes nearly 300 organizations. TPI Programs include Early Career Associates, Mid-Career Fellows, Next Generation Executives, C-Suite Leadership and BioDiversity Fellows.
Women In Bio is an organization of professionals committed to promoting careers, leadership, and entrepreneurship for women in the life sciences. They focus their activities on education, mentoring and networking, and on creating opportunities for leadership that can help advance women’s careers.
WEST is a learning community that provides women in the enterprise of science and technology with the inspiration, knowledge, and connections to reach their full potential. WEST encourages women to develop entrepreneurial management thinking, educated risk-taking, creative problem solving, and inspirational, supportive leadership for their teams/organizations/ businesses. WEST is a community and forum, for early, mid-career, executive, and entrepreneurial women in STEM careers. WEST members are committed to developing themselves as leaders through education, mentorship, networking, and information sharing. WEST offers a rich and thriving community that provides support, guidance, and professional development. Members can leverage a broad array of workshops and panels that include advice regarding career advancement, alternate career options, and professional skill-building. Through education, mentorship, and engaged networking, we strive to serve our diverse community, so our members can achieve their full potential.
In addition to the competitive discounts and premier customer service offered at a variety of leading vendors through our members-only MassBio Edge program, we strongly encourage companies to include supplier diversity as part of their larger ED&I policies.
To support your search for and the growth of diverse business enterprises, here is a list of national and regional certification organizations.
Explore supplier diversity
Disability:IN Supplier Diversity Program is the leading third-party certifier of disability-owned business enterprises (DOBE). Beyond certification, the program provides information, tools and other developmental resources — helping certified suppliers expand contract opportunities with key corporate partners, government agencies and other disability-owned businesses. DOBE is a for profit business that is at least 51% owned, managed and controlled by a person with a disability. We do not certify non-profit organizations or private businesses who employ person(s) with disabilities. Click here for more information.
Greater New England Minority Supplier Development Council (GNEMSDC) advances business opportunities for certified Asian, Black, Hispanic and Native American business enterprises and connects them to corporate members. One of the region’s leading corporate membership organizations, GNEMSDC was incorporated in 1975 to provide increased procurement and business opportunities for minority businesses of all sizes. GNEMSDC is an affiliate of the National Minority Supplier Development Council. GNEMSDC is one of the 24 regional councils represented across the US territories. GNEMSDC serves the six (6) New England States, which are MA, CT, RI, ME, NH, and VT. Click here for more information.
Massachusetts Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Chamber of Commerce (MA-LGBTCC), the local affiliate of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, offers certification to LGBT Business Enterprises as well as a host of opportunities to enhance LGBT business’ visibility to corporations seeking to do business with LGBT suppliers. As an advocate and link, the MA-LGBTCC seeks to promote economic growth and viability for LGBT-owned and allied businesses, corporations, and professionals throughout the Commonwealth. They also work with local and state agencies to promote supplier diversity, thus, enabling LGBT businesses to flourish. Click here for more information.
National Veteran Business Development Council (NVBDC) is the only third-party Veteran Owned Business Certification program in the United States and is organized as a 501c3 not for profit foundation. The NVBDC was created for the purpose of providing a credible and reliable certifying authority that would ensure that valid documentation exists of a business’ Veteran ownership and control. Companies will gain invaluable access and visibility as a supporter of veteran enterprises success. VOB must be fifty-one percent ownership by a Veteran or Veterans. They must also provide proof of active management of the business. Veteran must possess the power to direct or cause to direct the management and policies of the business including the dissolution or sale of the company without restriction by any other party. Click here for more information.
Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) is the largest certifier of women-owned businesses in the U.S. and a leading advocate for women business owners and entrepreneurs. WBENC Certification validates that a business is at least 51 percent owned, controlled, operated and managed by a woman or women. Their certification standard is accepted by more than 1,000 corporations representing America’s most prestigious brands, in addition to many states, cities and government entities. Center for Women & Enterprise (CWE) represents the local New England Chapter servicing MA, NH, RI, and VT. Their mission is to fuel economic growth by identifying, certifying, and facilitating the development of women-owned businesses. Click here for more information.
Resources & Benchmarking
The MassBio Diversity & Inclusion Resource Center is a centralized hub where you can access the best practices, tools, and resources needed to achieve equitable, diverse and inclusive excellence in your workplace.
Explore benchmarks & surveys
Workplace Diversity, Inclusion, and Intersectionality 2019 Report takes into account data from more than 34,000 respondents across the globe, with over 22,000 respondents from the United States, on how they feel about D&I efforts within their own workplace. It explores diversity by generation, employee experience by demographics, and the importance of intersectionality.
PwC Global Diversity & Inclusion Survey diagnoses the maturity of your organization’s D&I program, compares your organization to others in your region and industry. Survey responses will be recorded and aggregated with the overall survey benchmark results; individual responses will be kept strictly confidential.
Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Corporate Equality Index (CEI) Criteria 2020: launched in 2002, the HRC Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index has become a roadmap and benchmarking tool for U.S. businesses in the evolving field of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer equality in the workplace. The HRC Foundation is committed to keeping the criteria for the CEI rigorous, fair and transparent by identifying emerging best practices that improve the experiences of LGBTQ employees of participating businesses. Equally important, we are committed to providing the resources and consultation that enable each business to attain a 100 percent rating.
Studies & Reports
Bentley University Workplace Diversity Research and Case Studies synthesize current literature, practical research, and solutions to key issues impacting diversity and inclusion (D&I). Each report provides insights and interventions to help organizations make progress toward their D&I goals.
Framing Unconscious Bias Awareness at Your Organization: Unconscious bias can be a major factor in whether a workforce is diverse. More likely than not, hiring managers impart their own hidden biases upon their hiring practices. This can be very damaging to an organization.
United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development This Agenda is a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals demonstrate the scale and ambition of this new universal Agenda. They are integrated and indivisible and balance the three dimensions of sustainable development: the economic, social and environmental. By 2030, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value. Click here for The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2019.
Key Dates and Terms for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
2020 Diversity & Inclusion Calendar Whether you’re seeking to complete a diversity and inclusion calendar for your company, or simply to learn more about holidays in different cultures, this list offers a wealth of dates important to both religious and ethnic minorities in the U.S., as well as the people who want to honor them.
Talent2025.org DBP Glossary of Terms for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (please note: This glossary of key equity, diversity & inclusion terms is not intended to be an exhaustive list of every word and term used in the life sciences industry and conversation about ED&I. These are basic working definitions to be used as a reference to help move ED&I efforts forward.)
The Language of Inclusion (please note: This glossary of key equity, diversity & inclusion terms is not intended to be an exhaustive list of every word and term used in the life sciences industry and conversation about ED&I. These are basic working definitions to be used as a reference to help move ED&I efforts forward.)
Sample Workforce Representation – Diversity Dashboard: Diversity Scorecards and Dashboards help executives and managers analyze and track the impact of their diversity initiatives to mobilize the organization for strategic culture change. Diversity is not a program; it is a systemic process of organizational change that requires measurement for organizational improvement and success.
Sample Employee Engagement Surveys: Conducting engagement surveys is a useful way to gather insight into what is important to your employees and what are the key drivers of engagement. They give employees a venue for open feedback. Knowing how the company measures on areas such as employee satisfaction, management/leadership effectiveness, and working environment will give you tangible objectives for change. Feedback will give you valuable actionable data that you can implement for organizational growth.
D&I Consultants and Training
Culture Amp The People & Culture platform makes it easy to collect, understand, and act on employee feedback. Murmur is an innovative data-driven analytics platform that enables companies to track and improve worker morale. Their diagnostic, deep dive and pulse surveys provide powerful analytics and action planning.
Global View Communications (GVC) Is a D&I business strategy firm that works with organizations from a wide range of industries. GVC has expertise in assessments, strategic planning, and implementation to help GVC clients navigate and find success in the evolving D&I landscape. GVC has a blend of consultants, strategists, issue area experts, operations professionals, and facilitators. Their practice areas of inclusion business strategy, market insight, digital and social strategy, and employment brand are built to work in unison or discreetly to solve complex business challenges and opportunities in the D&I space.
reacHIRE is committed to helping corporations exceed their talent, diversity and retention goals by finding and fueling the potential in all professional women. Partnering with Fortune 500 companies including Fidelity, Wayfair and T-Mobile, reacHIRE delivers tangible results in two ways: Return-to-Work programs to integrate untapped experienced mid to senior-level professionals and the Aurora platform designed to help companies engage and retain the professional women they worked so hard to find. reacHIRE drives impact for companies and accelerates progress for women by improving the gender talent pipeline through innovative solutions.
True Change Associates (TCA) is ready to dive deeper into the more challenging dialogue that understands the historical context and the ever-evolving complexities of today’s world. TCA’s mission is to work in the community with others in helping people and organizations move through personal growth to creating lasting institutional change around equity and inclusion. When working with TCA you have access to a vast network of professionals and consultants across the country with various skills and specialties in the area of Diversity & Inclusion. To support their belief in the community aspect of this work, they will bring in the right Associates to match your needs.
Tools and Resources from MassBio
MassBio ERG Report (Empowering the Success of Life Sciences Companies through Employee Resources Groups) outlines best practices, as presented by leaders and participants of various ERGs across the life sciences industry during MassBio’s June 2019 ERG Exchange event. While the needs of each organization differ, we believe the lessons that come from shared best practices will benefit the industry and, more importantly, the patient population that we all work every day to serve.
While progress is being made to improve D&I, real change relies on concrete action. We believe that companies bear the responsibility for implementing intentional policies to ensure diverse workforces where all employees feel welcome and have an equal opportunity to thrive and advance. MassBio and Liftstream’s report on gender diversity in the Massachusetts life sciences contained numerous recommended actions that companies can take to improve their gender diversity. We started with those and added to it based on what we’ve learned since to create a condensed set of actions that companies can take, starting today, to create lasting change. Download the recommendations here.
MassBio Policies on Diversity, Inclusion & Harassment
Ensuring Diversity at Events
MassBio is committed to diversity at all our programs, forums, and conferences, and we firmly believe that the diversity of our society and industry must be reflected in our speakers and audience. To ensure this is not simply talk, but action, we have released a policy to ban all-male panels at our events and to encourage those conferences we participate in to do the same. Download the policy and adopt it as your own.
Preventing Harassment at Industry Events
MassBio’s anti-harassment policy applies to all MassBio events as well as any events that are hosted at MassBio’s facilities. The policy supports MassBio’s commitment to diversity & inclusion and is an effort to ensure everyone feels welcome to participate and attend events in the life sciences industry. Download the policy and adopt it as your own.
Tools and Resources from BIO
BIO and theBoardlist are partnering to support biotechnology companies searching for board candidates. theBoardlist is a platform for leaders in their industries to nominate women for all stages of company boards. Once a woman is nominated, she’s discoverable by companies searching for candidates for their open seats.
Conducting Pay Equity Audits: Learn more about steps to take for conducting a pay equity audit within your organization.
D&I Thought Leadership
There is no doubt that diversity remains a problem across the life sciences, especially at the Board and C-Suite. Yet, there is so much great work already going on to improve diversity, both within companies and the industry at large. We believe an important part of improving diversity & inclusion is sharing stories of success. Not only do they serve as examples to other companies who hope to mimic or adapt already-tested approaches, but they also show the range of efforts to improve diversity – from longstanding company policies to informal ways of managing and hiring talent. Achieving diversity & inclusion is possible and these stories are proof. We applaud those who have been bold enough to speak up, and we hope more will follow.
To share your story, email Edie Stringfellow.
MassBio’s D&I Policies
More diverse companies are more successful; and, life sciences companies lack diversity, especially in leadership and on Boards. While progress is being made, real change relies on concrete action. We believe that companies bear the responsibility for implementing intentional policies to ensure diverse a workforce where all employees feel welcome and have equal opportunity to thrive and advance. MassBio and Liftstream’s report on gender diversity in the Massachusetts life sciences contained numerous recommended actions that companies can take to improve their gender diversity. We started with those and added to it based on what we’ve learned since to create a condensed set of actions that companies can take, starting today, to create lasting change. Not every recommendation is appropriate or necessary for every company. Yet collectively, we hope this can serve as a roadmap for lasting improvement in our industry and beyond. Read our recommendations here.
See our policies
MassBio Statement of Policy: Diversity at Events
MassBio is committed to diversity at all our programs, forums, and conferences. MassBio firmly believes that the diversity of our society and industry must be reflected in our speakers and audience. To ensure this is not simply talk, but action, we are committing to the following written policies for all future events. Read our policy.
MassBio Events: Anti-Harassment PolicyMassBio is dedicated to providing a harassment-free and inclusive experience for everyone at our events, and all events hosted in MassBio’s facilities. We will not tolerate harassment of participants in any form. Participants violating these rules may be sanctioned or expelled from the event at the discretion of the event organizers. Read our policy.