Biotech’s Progress Towards Diversity, Equity & Inclusion


How diverse is the biotech workforce? A recent report shows the industry has made progress in terms of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) but still has a way to go.

According to the third annual report measuring diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the biotechnology industry, produced by Coqual in partnership with the biotech trade association, BIO, the industry has seen major progress with respect to DEI but still has a long road ahead.

The report, based on the findings of a voluntary survey of 99 BIO member companies headquartered across the globe, although mostly in the US (85 percent), found that women now make up 49 percent of the sector’s employees, with respect to 47 percent in 2020 and 45 percent in 2019, but only 34 percent of executive teams and 20 percent of CEOs.

According to the report, employees of colour make up just 38 percent of all responding companies’ employees, with only 24 percent of their executive positions filled by people of colour.

Progress in DEI can be seen though the number of companies who said that attracting, recruiting, and promoting diverse talent was a priority—nearly 80 percent. However, of the large biotech companies surveyed, only 32 percent require diverse pools of candidates for senior level positions and only 28 percent have sponsorship programs.

These findings were discussed during the “Best Practices for Building an Inclusive Biotech Company” panel session at this week’s BIO Convention.

“BIO is committed to ensuring that all people are able to participate in – and benefit from – the biotech industry’s efforts to cure patients, protect the climate, and nourish humanity,” said BIO President and CEO Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath. “This commitment begins with ensuring that the workforce reflects those our industry serves. We have more work to do, and BIO plays an important role as a thought leader and resource for the biotechnology industry.”

Part of a larger initiative, the BIO Equality Agenda, the report reflects a widespread interest, not only in the biotech industry, building diversity, as reflected in the 2020 McKinsey report, Diversity wins, that demonstrates the benefits of a diverse workforce.

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