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Diversity in the Life Sciences Industry

MassBio, the state’s biotech trade group, is out with a richly detailed report this morning dissecting how the industry is falling short on gender diversity, and what companies must do to make real progress.

The 114-page report, the product of a collaboration between MassBio and executive search firm Liftstream, is based on a survey of 850 life sciences professionals and 70 companies in Massachusetts. It seeks to use data to diagnose the gender diversity issues that have plagued biotech and scores of other industries, and concludes with a list of 50 recommendations.

Here are five takeaways from the report, which you can read in full here:

1. Men and women enter the life sciences industry in equal numbers, and with similar qualifications and career goals. But the imbalance between men and women gets more pronounced as one climbs higher up the corporate ladder, with men holding 76 percent of C-suite positions and 86 percent of board seats. That’s despite the fact that men and women equally aspire to serve in such roles.

2. More women than men report taking career breaks, such as for parental leave, and women also take longer breaks than men. Among other things, the report’s author’s conclude, this highlights the need for companies to offer shared parental leave and to encourage male employees to participate.

3. When recruiting employees, large companies emphasize some factors, like compensation and flexible working, that only a small percentage of women actually report as being important in deciding whether to take a particular job. In a further sign of this kind of misalignment, a significant percentage of women reported “future career development” as an important factor, but none of the companies in the survey said the same.

4. The death of women on boards has dominated the national conversation about gender diversity this year, thanks in large part to the “Fearless Girl” statue in New York that was commissioned by State Street. According to the MassBio report, women are indeed less likely to join companies that have all-male boards, management teams and job interviewers. When all three of those conditions are present, 46 percent of women say they would pass.

5. Asked whether they perceived the recruitment process in their companies as biased, roughly 1 in 4 respondents at companies with 31 or more employees said yes. By comparison, just 15 percent of female employees at startups (defined as having 30 or fewer employees) perceived bias. According to the report’s authors, that may be due to “the relative ‘togetherness’ of a small, tightly-knit team,” or because some startups lack a true recruitment process.

The report concludes: "The leaders of constituent companies must do more to understand the issues of diversity inside their organization and be bold and courageous in their vision for diverse and inclusive companies. The time to act is now.By Max Stendahl – Digital Editor, Boston Business Journal

Sep 21, 2017




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