The Industry Has a Gender Diversity Problem. My Company Doesn’t.

Feb 09, 2018

In study after study, the data shows a clear gender diversity problem in the life sciences at the top ranks of companies. Female representation in the C-Suite hovers around 20-25% and at the Board level it drops even farther to around 10%. This ratio has remained steady despite women entering the life sciences workforce at the same rate as men.

The good news is that leaders across the life sciences recognize this as a major problem and have committed to action. They understand it is an imbalance that must be addressed in order for the industry to thrive and grow.

What’s troubling is that when you ask these industry leaders whether their own company has a gender diversity problem, most say they do not. This disconnect is best exemplified by Endpoints most recent “Endpoints 100” survey containing responses from 91 CEOs of small, medium, and large biotech companies. When asked about their own company’s performance on gender diversity, 72% say they are either doing “Good” or “Excellent” with only 28% saying “Average” or “Fair” and 0% saying “Poor”. On the flip side, when asked about the industry-wide performance on gender diversity, these 26% of these same executives answered “Poor” along with 71% who answered “Fair” or “Average”. 0% said the industry is doing “Excellent”.

What’s interesting is that this survey data mirrors MassBio and Liftstream’s Sept. 2017 survey results which found there is a major disconnect between how companies view their effectiveness in improving gender diversity and inclusion versus what women employees see as happening with only 9% of women viewing their companies as fully inclusive vs 40% of companies claiming the same.

These perception gaps are cause for concern, especially since our 2017 report showed the onus for improving diversity and inclusion rests with the employer. If company leadership does not think there is a problem to fix, they are less likely to pro-actively seek improvements. Further, non-diverse companies will have a harder time hiring the top talent as we know women in particular are less likely to work at a company they do not view as diverse.

As MassBio continues our effort to improve diversity and inclusion across the industry, one objective will be to better define how companies can and should measure diversity and inclusion baselines and improvements. If we’re all looking at the same metrics hopefully we can start removing these worrisome disconnects.

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