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First Annual Report Looks at Race/Ethnicity and Gender in the Biotech Industry

January 29, 2020
Media Contact
Theresa Brady

WASHINGTON DC., January 30, 2020 – The Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) today released “Measuring Diversity in the Biotech Industry: Building an Inclusive Workforce,” the most comprehensive report on diversity and inclusion in the biotech industry. Based on a survey of biotech companies, the report looks at where companies stand on representation in terms of gender and race/ethnicity – and assesses the steps they are taking to improve diversity and inclusion.

The report analyzes data from a survey of nearly 100 BIO member companies, conducted online from May to June 2019. The findings show that while responding companies are approaching gender parity, with 45% female employees overall, this near balance shrinks at the higher levels – with 30% female executives and 18% female board members. Representation of people of color is slightly lower, at 32% overall. Again, this number lessens at the higher levels – 15% of executives and 14% of board members are people of color.

“BIO will continue to publish an annual survey to track industry progress as it works to expand representation at all levels,” said Joanne Duncan, BIO's President of Membership and Business Operations Division. “BIO has developed resources available at such as BIO’s Diversity and Inclusion toolkit and the BIO Boardlist, that aim to help biotech companies achieve their diversity and inclusion goals. These resources can be particularly helpful for smaller companies that don’t have the staffing or resources to dedicate to diversity and inclusion efforts.”

Overall, the findings show that pre-revenue, smaller, and private companies have made progress in increasing representation. Pre-revenue organizations are more likely than profitable organizations to have people of color make up one-quarter of their executive level workforce – and are also more likely to have a female CEO. In addition, small organizations are more likely to have a female CEO, while privately held organizations are more likely to have a person of color as CEO.

The report’s findings also show where BIO member companies stand on their approach to diversity and inclusion. Responding companies reported that 80% of their employees and 73% of their leaders demonstrate a commitment to creating an inclusive environment. In addition, about half of the responding companies say that diversity and inclusion is one of their organization’s stated values or priorities, while almost one-third have a stated goal about creating an inclusive environment.

Overall, the findings show that diversity and inclusion programming is still in the nascent stages at most responding companies – with many companies still assessing the benefits of diversity and inclusion programs.

Building on three years of work by BIO’s Workforce Development, Diversity and Inclusion Committee (WDDI), this report provides a baseline for understanding representation of diversity and inclusion within BIO member companies. “While these numbers show progress in some areas, we know that as an industry, we can do better,” said Helen Torley, chair of BIO’s WDDI Committee and CEO of Halozyme Therapeutics. “What is hopeful about this report is that many BIO member companies express a strong desire to do better – and a commitment to take the needed actions to get there.”

The report recommends that companies start by assessing where they are when it comes to diversity and inclusion. From there, companies can expand the collection and tracking of data on representation and implement such diversity and inclusion programs as leadership development and inclusive behavior trainings, investment in pay equity, networking opportunities, reviewing hiring/career progress practices and more. In addition, the report recommends that companies pay particular attention to representation at the board level.

The full report can be downloaded here.


About BIO

BIO is the world's largest trade association 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 theBIO InternationalConvention, the world’s largest gathering of the biotechnology industry, along with industry-leading investor and partnering meetings held around the world.

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