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BIO Releases Second Annual DEI Report

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion a Priority in Majority of Biotech Organizations

June 17, 2021
Media Contact
Theresa Brady

The Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) today released its second annual survey on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the biotech industry, “Measuring Diversity in the Biotech Industry: Advancing Equity and Inclusion”

The report includes data from a survey conducted from October to December 2020. The survey found that many companies made progress in their commitments to diversity and inclusion – seven in 10 companies list diversity and inclusion as one of their organization’s values or priorities, up from 46% in 2019. Representation of women at senior levels and representation of people of color at all levels remains low. Women make up 47% of total employees, but only 31% of executive teams and 23% of CEOs. Employees of color make up 32% of the overall workforce, 21% of executive teams and 24% of CEOs.

“To be the voice of science and for science, we need to understand where we currently are as an industry and how we can grow,” said BIO President and CEO Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath. “This past year demonstrated how the biotechnology industry can step up to a challenge. The survey provides the information we, as an industry, need to develop programming that supports progress for diversity and inclusion. We know there is work to be done and BIO will help support member companies with best practices to help them grow a workforce that advances diverse talent while creating opportunities for leaders from every sector of our community.”

The report found that companies are implementing a variety of DEI initiatives. Expanding the list of initiatives from last year’s survey, more companies reported that they had implemented programs from accountability and reporting to mentoring, training and networking opportunities.  

Coqual, a global, nonprofit think tank devoted to DEI in the workplace, conducted the survey and developed a four-stage maturity curve to map progress and provide a useful framework for biotechnology companies to ground and guide their efforts.

  1. Diagnose: Gather data to define the current state of DEI and make the case for action.
  2. Educate: Ensure that the importance of DEI, as well as key DEI principles are understood across the organization.
  3. Pilot: Launch pilot programs to assess impact, gain buy-in and adjust implementation parameters.
  4. Scale: Grow pilot programs and embed DEI principles with individuals and the organization.

“We’re excited to partner with BIO on this important research to advance DEI within the biotech industry,” said Coqual’s Executive Vice President Pooja Jain-Link. “Given how biotechnology itself can be used to solve for inequities in broader society, it is urgent that companies prioritize DEI internally. This study helps measure progress and holds the industry accountable to it. We are encouraged by the results which demonstrate the commitment from companies to create more equitable workplaces.”  

Best practices and recommendations include collecting, tracking and sharing data for companies in the earlier stages of the maturity curve and tying metrics to accountability for organizations in the later stages. The report also includes recommendations around pay equity, sponsorship and cultivating a feedback culture.

BIO took action to ensure that the industry provides resources for companies to support the LGBTQ+ community by recently joining Out Leadership as their first advocacy association and biotechnology-focused member. Out Leadership is the oldest and largest global consortium of member organizations working to advance LGBTQ+ equality. “We are delighted that BIO has joined the Out Leadership community of global organizations that are dedicated to fostering diverse and inclusive workplaces and furthering the goal of equality for LGBTQ+ people around the world,” said Todd Sears, CEO & Founder, Out Leadership.  

This year’s report shows that few organizations have data on LGTBQ+ identity. BIO members now have access to a dedicated “Out Leadership” member portal for virtual events such as Proudly Resilient, a month-long series of Pride programming. BIO members can also access proprietary research on LGBTQ+ equality in the workplace. In addition, BIO members can access OutNEXT, the world’s only talent development program dedicated to emerging LGBTQ+ leaders.

BIO launched its BIOEquality Agenda last year to counteract the systemic inequality, injustice and unfair treatment of underserved communities. Through its three pillars for change – Promote Health Equity, Invest in the Current and Next Generation of Scientists, and Expand Opportunity for Women and Other Underrepresented Population – BIO challenges the industry and members to focus on justice through equity, and to invest in a diverse workforce. 

The full report can be downloaded here.


About BIO
BIO is the world's largest advocacy organization representing biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and in more than 30 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products. BIO also produces the BIO International Convention, the world’s largest gathering of the biotechnology industry, along with industry-leading investor and partnering meetings held around the world. Subscribe to Good Day BIO.

About Coqual

Coqual (formerly The Center for Talent Innovation) is a global, nonprofit think tank dedicated to helping leaders design diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplaces where every person belongs. Founded in 2004, Coqual provides in-depth research, thought leadership, and data-driven, actionable solutions for companies to address bias and barriers to inclusion for underrepresented populations in the workplace. Coqual’s cutting-edge research and Advisory Services focus on gender, race, ethnicity, disability, veteran status and LGBTQ identities, and others—as well as the intersections among these groups. For more information, visit

About Out Leadership

Out Leadership is the oldest and largest global LGBTQ+ business advisory that partners with the world's most influential companies to build business opportunities, cultivate talent, and drive LGBTQ+ equality forward. We believe that LGBTQ+ inclusion positively impacts business results, and that including LGBTQ+ people at the most senior level of executive leadership builds business. We call this idea Return on Equality™. To learn more, please visit

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