More work is needed on diversity and inclusion in biotech

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A new report revealing more work is needed on diversity and inclusion in the biotech sector has been released by the US Biotechnology Innovation Organisation (BIO). Baseline findings on representation show that responding companies have not achieved gender parity.

The report, Measuring Diversity in the Biotech Industry: Building an Inclusive Workforce, is BIO’s inaugural annual report measuring gender diversity and inclusion, ethnicity, and race within the biotech industry in Northern America. It revealed a slight underrepresentation of women (45 per cent) with stark declines at higher levels – on average 30 per cent of executives are women, 18 per cent of board members are women and 16 per cent of CEOs are women. However, there is a growing commitment to diversity and inclusion, with 73 per cent of respondents saying their companies’ leaders are committed to it.

AusBiotech’s Sector Snapshot 2019 revealed gender parity across Australia’s life sciences workforce: women form 51 per cent of the workforce. There is also a decline, although not as steep, as seniority increases: on average, 46 per cent of executive are women, 31 per cent of board members, and 27 per cent of CEOs/Founders are women.

Findings on representation for race and ethnicity also revealled opportunities to expand the biotechnology workforce. Companies were asked to consider their US locations only when answering metrics questions about race and ethnicity.

AusBiotech is committed to diversity and inclusion; its commitment follows four principles, and encourages industry to follow them too. Diversity in all aspects of business operations optimises the continued growth and success of the life sciences industry.

Encouraging, supporting and further developing women in the life sciences sector in order to achieve a more equal standing, the AusBiotech and Medicine Australia’s NSW Women in Life Sciences Luncheon is taking place on 6 March 2020, and will also celebrate International Women’s Day. This year's theme Inspire, influence, involve conveys a movement that is beyond gender, and increasing the number of female leaders in senior positions is a conversation everyone should be a part of.

Six panellists will reveal how they have influenced change in the pursuit to achieve gender equity, through evolving life transitions and career stages, as well as how they inspired and involved others to push for progress. The six panellists are: Julie Phillips, CEO and Executive Director, BioDiem Ltd; Dr Sarah McDonald, CEO, Baymatob Operations; Associate Professor Muireann Irish, School of Psychology and Brain & Mind Centre, The University of Sydney; Dr Dharmica Mistry, Co-founder and Scientific Advisor, BCAL Diagnostics; Michael Azrak, Vice President and Managing Director ANZ, Merk Sharp & Dohme; and Munuri Gunawardena, Founder of HealthMatch, Forbes 30 under 30 class of 2019.

Continue the conversation by registering for AusBiotech and Medicine Australia’s NSW Women in Life Sciences Luncheon, 6 March 2020.

Read BIO’s Measuring Diversity in the Biotech Industry report here.