MassBio® Survey Establishes First-of-its-Kind, Massachusetts-Specific Biopharma Workforce Demographic Data

Nov 17, 2021

Report Finds Gender Diversity Rapidly Increasing at the Board Level

November 17, 2021 (CAMBRIDGE, MA) – The Massachusetts Biotechnology Council (MassBio®) today released a report on the state of diversity and the opportunities to grow inclusion and equity in the Massachusetts biopharma industry. The report found a stunning 164% increase in gender diversity on biopharma Boards compared to a similar 2017 survey, while identifying positive trends in overall industry diversity. The report also presents clear opportunities for how companies can improve their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, especially around employee engagement, and data collection and measurement.   

The report aggregates data taken from a survey of biopharma companies that signed MassBio’s Open Letter 2.0, The CEO Pledge for a More Equitable and Inclusive Life Sciences Industry. Of the 222 CEOs who signed the pledge, 85 companies completed the survey between October 2020 and June 2021. The 85 companies are representative of the broader Massachusetts biopharma industry in terms of number of employees per company.  

“Five years after we released survey results about gender diversity in the Massachusetts biopharma industry, we have seen significant, positive change in female representation on Boards,” said Kendalle Burlin O’Connell, President & COO, MassBio. “We are extremely heartened to see the wide-ranging commitments from our industry leaders to improving gender diversity pay off five-plus years later in a measurable way. It is our hope that similar commitments about racial diversity, increasingly made by organizations in the summer of 2020, will show similar impact in the coming years.”

The survey findings include:

  • Gender diversity on biopharma Boards has increased dramatically
    • Biopharma companies in Massachusetts report 37% female representation on their Boards. This is a 164% increase above the 14% level reported in a similar MassBio survey from 2017
  • Biopharma companies in Massachusetts report workforce demographics equal to state levels for those identifying as White, higher representation than state levels for those who identify as Asian, and about half the state levels of representation for those identifying as people of color.
    • The biopharma workforce in Massachusetts is 60% White compared to 61% of Massachusetts’ population in the 2020 Census.
    • The biopharma workforce in Massachusetts is 16% Asian compared to 6% of Massachusetts’ population in the 2020 Census.
    • The biopharma workforce in Massachusetts is 15% People of Color (in our survey this is meant to include Black, Brown (Hispanic/Latinx), and Indigenous (Native Americans) People of Color) compared to 32% of Massachusetts’ population in the 2020 Census (counting Black alone 12.4%; Hispanic 18.7%; American Indian and Alaska Native alone 1.1%; Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone 0.2%).

The survey also sought to assess where biopharma companies are on their DEI journey, including identifying challenges and opportunities toward success. These survey findings presented a clear picture of where companies can act to make an impact right away. Of note:

  • Only 56% of surveyed companies report having a company-wide DEI statement that publicly states an organization’s values and its commitment to creating and supporting an inclusive and equitable workplace.
  • Only 56% of surveyed companies report having completed an employee engagement survey that includes questions specifically about DEI.
  • Only 24% of surveyed companies report having established a diversity dashboard in order to establish an internal baseline for diversity to measure against over time.

“The companies that signed the Open Letter 2.0 have made a serious commitment to improving DEI at their companies,” said Warner Santiago, Senior Director of DEI and Workforce Development, MassBio. “Yet, when foundational DEI measures such as diversity dashboards and engagement surveys are not widely adopted, we know there is room for improvement especially in the areas of inclusion and equity – a key component to any successful DEI initiative.”

“With MassBio’s most recent Industry Snapshot estimating the need for 40,000 net-new jobs in the Massachusetts life sciences industry by 2024, all aspects of DEI should be a critical priority for organizations as they seek to recruit and retain the best and brightest talent from across the world,” said Ross Marshall, Senior Director of DEI Advisory, MassBio. “As companies assess these survey results and reflect on where they are succeeding and where there are gaps, MassBio is here to help with the process from offering tools, resources, and networks to more in-depth, one-on-one assistance.”

MassBio intends to conduct similar surveys on a regular basis going forward as a means to measure change over time, identify trends, and assess opportunities.

“When CEOs were considering signing the Open Letter 2.0, we made it clear that it was not a “check-the-box” measure, but rather a commitment to act and create lasting change. I want to thank the Open Letter signer companies that completed this survey. Now, our entire industry has a benchmark to measure against,” said Joe Boncore, CEO, MassBio “We encourage all of our member companies to not only measure their DEI against industry benchmarks, but also against themselves over time.”

You can read the full report here.

Please note: Although people who identify as Asian are often included within the People of Color (POC) community, for the purposes of this survey, the members of the Asian community are counted separately in certain questions. The reason for this is to accurately portray the true representation of non-Asian POC within the life sciences as Asian employees are regularly overrepresented in our industry as compared to the general population.

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