An open letter to the biopharma community

As gender disparity continues in STEM fields, life-sciences industry leaders released an open letter to encourage gender diversity and offer guidelines for hiring practices

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On Jan. 11, 2017, more than 100 life-sciences industry leaders outlined guiding principles and best practices to improve gender diversity throughout industry. The full text of the letter is below (edited very slightly for format and style).
Now that it’s 2017, we are choosing to write this letter to provide recommendations for best practices to establish gender diversity as a priority for the biopharma industry.
Last year’s open letter to the industry sparked a dialogue that led to changes in some company practices, new training programs, regional gender diversity initiatives and much more. But we believe this is just the start of the work to be done.
Below is the culmination of recent recommendations collected from industry executives for guiding principles and a top 10 list of best practices that we believe will continue the momentum of 2016 into 2017 and beyond.
Guiding principles for gender diversity as a priority for the biopharma industry
  • We, as community leaders, commit to driving diversity and inclusion in the biopharma industry.
  • Diversity is good for the business performance of our industry. Research proves that diversity leads to: better decision-making; increased productivity and financial performance; and enhanced engagement, recruitment and retention of talent.
  • To ensure that the biopharma industry thrives and is sustainable, we, as community leaders, see it as our responsibility to drive diversity as a top priority.
  • Unconscious biases are ubiquitous and difficult to pinpoint and address. Still, we need to make a conscious commitment to eradicate unconscious biases in recruitment, performance evaluation, promotion and decision making in order to improve gender diversity.
  • While we recognize that there are many forms of diversity needed to ensure the future of our industry, there are clear best practices that can be implemented now to increase gender diversity.
Top 10 best practices for increasing gender diversity in the biopharma industry
  1. We as executives and board members declare gender diversity as a priority, as a key value and ethos. We commit to living it visibly at all of our companies and organizations.
  2. We will create opportunities for open dialogue on enhancing gender diversity and ensuring an inclusive environment, both within our organizations and across the industry.
  3. We recognize the importance of formal sponsorship programs to ensure diversity in our executive leadership pipeline and commit to building these programs in our companies.
  4. We also recognize that it is important to provide formal mentorship programs to encourage women to engage with executives, both inside and outside of our organization. We commit to building these programs in our companies.
  5. We will ask our board members to be active sponsors of women who are “board ready” to pursue board appointments. We will endorse and sponsor our high potential female talent to take part in training programs to become “boardroom ready.”
  6. We will measure and track promotion of female talent to senior management positions.
  7. We will seek out and celebrate positive role models within our organizations.
  8. We will review our hiring processes and train our hiring managers on diversity and inclusion as a priority.
  9. We agree with the importance of setting concrete hiring goals to achieve gender parity and inclusion at each level of our organizations and to measure and report regularly on our progress towards goals.
  10. We will support the work of our trade organizations, like MassBio, on industry-wide efforts to improve gender diversity at the macro level.
We, as community leaders, have the responsibility to ensure our biopharma industry can continue to grow and thrive. We need to take a holistic view on the next generation of leaders to prepare for the future. We believe that diversity and inclusion will deliver better results for our industry and society. We have the opportunity and the responsibility to lead by example, setting the tone and pace for the biopharma industry.
We invite you to join us, to sign this open letter and to work to implement these practices to ensure the continued success of our industry.

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