The Next Steps Toward Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion in the Life Sciences

Jun 30, 2020

By Edie Stringfellow, Director of D&I, MassBio

Our country is hurting. Centuries-long systemic racism toward Black Americans has disadvantaged them at every turn leading to constant injustice and inequity, lack of wealth, and death. They continue to be killed by police and are dying of COVID-19 at disproportionally higher rates.  

Together, we must act and create change to counteract the unequal, unfair, and cruel treatment of Black Americans. Complacency is not an option. MassBio shared our voice and are now acting with our influence as a leader and convener to make marginalized communities more empowered, supported, valued, and welcomed in work and society. We are asking our member companies and their employees to join us.

Four years ago, our members asked us to take an equity, diversity, and inclusion (ED&I) leadership role, to help create better diversity and inclusion across our industry, and to let the world know that the life sciences does not stand for sexism or discrimination. We listened and we acted.

Today, I’m proud to announce that MassBio is expanding our initiative to ensure our work is directly addressing systemic racism and its ill-effects, now and into the future, with a focus especially on Black and Indigenous people of color (BIPOC). As before, MassBio’s ED&I initiative is built to advise and assist our member companies as they launch, scale, and strengthen their internal ED&I programs, with the goal of stronger equity, diversity, and inclusiveness across the life sciences industry.

In the coming weeks months, MassBio’s next-generation ED&I initiative will expand to:

  • Facilitate opportunities for our members to engage with organizations focused on community justice, workforce development, and health disparities in conjunction with partner organizations, especially Life Science Cares
  • Work with our partners to grow Project Onramp and create more paid internship positions at Massachusetts life sciences companies in years to come, providing access for underserved and minority populations to the life sciences industry
  • Provide additional resources and networks to our member companies so they can successfully implement their ED&I strategies
  • Issue a call-to-action for all life sciences company CEOs to sign onto our “Open Letter 2.0 – The CEO Pledge for a More Equitable and Inclusive Life Sciences Industry” and commit themselves to a range of best practices designed to improve equity, diversity, inclusion, and culture inside your company
  • Explore partnerships between the life sciences industry and Massachusetts hospitals to address physician racial bias, community engagement, increased health literacy, and improved access to clinical trials

We are also thinking even bigger. As we look longer-term, we are already developing concepts to:  

  • Address health disparities through partnerships and state and federal policy advocacy
  • Diversify clinical trial participation
  • Create a workforce pipeline and industry partnerships with Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), and Tribal Colleges & Universities (TCUs)
  • Develop an accelerated Master’s program in drug discovery for STEM bachelor’s degree holders seeking advanced degrees necessary for many life sciences careers

MassBio recognizes our privilege and position of influence across Massachusetts and beyond and will use our voice to aggressively stand-up for change, speak out against racism and discrimination, and demand accountability. The life sciences industry is here to heal people that are sick no matter who they are or where they come from. It’s on us to solve some of the toughest problems facing humankind, and this is no different. We’re in this together, and together we can create a better world for future generations. With purposeful and uncompromising collaboration, we will be able to enact lasting change.

To learn more please contact our Director of Diversity & Inclusion Edie Stringfellow.

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