A Year of Recognition, Change, and Social Awareness

Jun 24, 2021

By Cayley Moynihan, Senior Associate of Public Affairs, MassBio

One year ago, MassBio issued its Open Letter 2.0 – The CEO Pledge for a More Equitable and Inclusive Life Sciences Industry. The pledge, a component of MassBio’s expanded equity, diversity, and inclusion (ED&I) initiative, called on CEOs from across the life sciences community to commit themselves to a range of best practices designed to improve ED&I and culture within their respective organizations. To date, 222 CEOs representing all facets of the industry – small and emerging biotechs, midsized companies, large biopharmaceutical companies, and associate organizations – have signed their name.

In issuing the Open Letter, we strived to ensure all signers understood that it was not a “check-the-box” measure to feign an inclusive culture, but rather a commitment to take action and create lasting change. And the response we’ve seen thus far has been heartening. As a team, we’ve met with more than 100 member companies since last July to discuss specific ED&I strategies and have engaged in thousands of phone calls and email exchanges to support their respective journeys. One year later, we are continuing to meet regularly with members to share resources and document their progress. It is important to note that we are meeting with companies who are at various stages in implementing ED&I initiatives. We have met with many that are just starting out and do not know what first steps to take, and we are meeting with some who are very established in their efforts and are leveraging our resources to hold themselves accountable. 

The Open Letter is a long-term commitment designed to take 3-5 years for companies to see it through, however, we are beginning to see early successes from companies who have signed the pledge. We’ve seen companies establish leadership development programs to help diverse talent rise to senior-levels across the industry; and we’ve seen companies form internal ED&I committees to advance company culture, a diverse workforce, and external partnerships. We’ve also seen a rise in companies creating diversity dashboards to analyze and track the progress and impact of diversity initiatives over time, and issue employee engagement surveys to gather insight into what is important to their employees. Equally as important, member companies are beginning to understand the significance of purchasing from diverse suppliers and the meaningful impact it has on the communities that support the industry. Many small companies consider supplier diversity initiatives beyond their capabilities, but there are ways to simplify the process. In fact, through MassBio’s expanded partnership with Thermo Fisher Scientific, Thermo Fisher provides a 1% diverse supplier rebate incentive to MassBio members and New England Edge affiliates that purchase supplies and services through the Fisher Scientific distribution channel.

It is important to note, however, that the six tenants outlined in MassBio’s Open Letter 2.0 are not the pinnacle of diversity and inclusion, but can serve as a way to focus attention and organizational efforts, especially as they relate to racial equity. There is no one “right” way to develop an ED&I initiative nor is there a one-size-fits-all solution. Each company is different and should align its efforts with what best suits it, and its employees’ needs.

MassBio is proud to be a resource for life sciences companies looking to improve equity, diversity, and inclusion within their organizations. If you want to learn more about how we can support your initiatives and/or set up a meeting to discuss your goals, email diversity@massbio.org or visit our ED&I Resource Center.

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