MassBio® Releases Statement of Policy to Ensure Diversity at Events

May 10, 2018

Policy prohibits all-male panels at MassBio programs, forums, and conferences, along with those events MassBio representatives participate in

May 10, 2018 (CAMBRIDGE, MA) – The Massachusetts Biotechnology Council (MassBio®) today announced a new policy to ensure speakers and panelists at all MassBio events are diverse and to encourage those conferences the organization participates in to do the same, effective immediately. This is part of MassBio’s ongoing leadership to improve diversity and inclusion in the life sciences industry.  

“What I love is how simple it is,” said Robert K. Coughlin, President & CEO of MassBio, in a recent blog post. “We’ve been implementing these concepts informally and it works. Our conferences have been more vibrant, the conversation more interesting, and the speakers better represent the industry’s employees. It’s my hope that individual companies in MassBio’s membership and beyond adopt this policy to create an industry-wide standard.”

The following applies to all MassBio run events, in which MassBio will:

  • Seek the best and brightest to participate in the program, regardless of gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, ethnicity, nationality, veteran status, disability, religion or age.
  • Not hold any event with an all-male panel during any part of the agenda.
  • Ensure better gender balance and diversity among our event steering committees to increase the probability of a greater diversity among speakers and attendees.
  • Encourage all invited speakers who cannot participate to suggest other potential participants with an eye toward improving women and diversity among event speakers.
  • Strive for gender balance on all MassBio event steering committees and consider the inclusion of new members to regulate an imbalance.   
  • Share this policy with our event steering committee and forum co-chairs.
  • Publish a link and a summary statement of this policy on all MassBio conference events webpages.
  • Seek the opinion of event attendees in post-event surveys about the effectiveness of this policy in their view, e.g.: Was our commitment to diversity adequately demonstrated at this event? Did this policy’s implementation impact your participation in the event?
  • Gather data to measure the diversity of invited speakers, selected speakers, and attendees.

When MassBio representatives are invited to participate in external events, MassBio will:

  • Not participate as a panelist or moderator if the resulting panel will be all-male.
  • Strongly encourage the program’s organizers to consider their event’s inclusivity and share our events policy with them as reference.   

When organizations request MassBio to partner or co-sponsor their event, MassBio will require the organization to:

  • Adhere to the policies outlined above. If the organization cannot do so, MassBio would instead require a written explanation for why they cannot, including a plan to meet the goals in future years, before MassBio will agree to partner or co-sponsor the event.

MassBio encourages every organization to consider adopting this policy as their own.

To learn more about MassBio’s Diversity & Inclusion initiatives, visit:


See all MassBio News