No More All Male Panels

May 10, 2018

By Robert K. Coughlin, President & CEO, MassBio

MassBio hosts a lot of events. From our Annual Meeting to our Patient Advocacy Summit to our near-weekly professional development forums, our staff is constantly planning and executing events. And every single one of these events relies on outside experts to participate as speakers and panelists. Lucky for us, being in the best life sciences hub in the world, we have unparalleled access to the best and brightest minds to fill event agendas.

Yet, as I look back across our past events something didn’t add up: most speakers and panelists were men.

That officially ends today.

I’m proud to announce that as part of MassBio’s Diversity & Inclusion initiative we are rolling out, and immediately implementing, a policy to ensure that speakers and panelists at all of our events are diverse and to encourage those conferences we participate in to do the same.

Here’s the short and sweet summary of what we’re going to do:  

  • We will seek the best and brightest to participate in our programs regardless of gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, ethnicity, nationality, veteran status, disability, religion, or age
  • We will not hold any events with an all-male panel during any part of the agenda
  • We will publicly post this policy on our website and all related events pages
  • MassBio staff will not participate as a panelist or moderator at outside events if it results in an all-male panel
  • We will not partner with or co-sponsor events unless the conference organizer agrees to adopt this policy, or provide a written explanation to us about why they cannot meet the goals

What I love is how simple it is. 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.

I’ve also been testing this out personally. Over the past year, I’ve been declining invitations to participate in panels because every other panelist is a man. As you can imagine, this has caused significant consternation from event organizers. However, in every single case, I ended up participating in the event because the organizers realized their oversight and found women to participate – not to fill a quota, but because they understood they were overlooking a whole population who can add real value to their event.

From this experiment, I know our policy will work. We must think outside of the traditional and outdated models, while also being held accountable for creating diverse and inclusive events. I hope every other organization in our industry, and outside it, will adopt this policy as their own.

Download the policy here. 

          – Robert K. Coughlin, President & CEO, MassBio

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