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Talent, Diversity & Inclusion, Life Sciences

Diversity and Inclusion a hot topic at Biotech Week Boston

Posted by on 20 September 2018
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Conversations around diversity and inclusion are nothing new. But in recent years, it seems, more conversations are being had to drive the initiative and make changes and some real impact in business practices and functions across various sectors, biotech included.

For this reason, it was no surprise that the Evening of Diversity and Inclusion at this year's Biotech Week Boston was packed.

The room was filled with pharma stakeholders and members of the life science ecosystem to discuss some of the progress that has been made and where we're headed.


The panel included:

- Joan Reede, MD, MPH, MS, MBA, Professor of Medicine/Dean for Diversity and Community Partnership
- Tanisha Sullivan, Esq, Co-founder of The Color of Biotech Massachusettes
- Karen  Albertson, Global Business Director at 3M SPSD
- Jose Juves, Vice President of Public Affairs at Wave Life Science

With Edie Stringfellow, Director of Diversity and Inclusion at MassBio, serving as the night's co-host and moderator.

We spoke with Stringfellow about why it was important to be apart of this event and the work she's doing at MassBio on their diversity and inclusion initiative.

Informa Connect What is the one thing you want the audience to know about why you are here tonight?

Edie Stringfellow: MassBio diversity and inclusion Initiatives are not just important to me at work, they are also important to me on a personal level. I lost a brother to Sickle Cell Disease and another is in crisis right now. We are only going to be able to develop effective therapies faster when we have the best and brightest at the table no matter what they look like, their backgrounds or where they came from. There can be no exclusion of voices or perspectives, especially in Life Sciences, when the quality of care and extending the lives of millions are on the line.

IC: When we talk about diversity and inclusion across an organization, what does this look like?

ES: Having heterogeneous and eclectic teams will attract candidates who appreciate your values; attract partners who share your vision and will give the marketplace a reason to align and believe in you. I believe that our industry should strive to reflect society as well as be a model for inclusiveness for other industries.

IC: As an industry, where have we made strides?  What should we address immediately to improve workplace culture that would make a significant difference?

ES: While progress is being made, real change relies on concrete action. We believe that companies bear the responsibility for implementing intentional policies to ensure inclusive culture where all employees feel welcome and have equal opportunity to thrive and advance.

Companies should regularly collect, measure, and report (internally and/or publicly) hiring and promotion data and metrics relating to diversity, and hold management accountable for meaningful change. Leverage this data and utilize as a strategy to build and strengthen teams.

IC: How do you think about D&I as it relates to long term success of an organization?

ES: Between MassBio, Liftstream, McKinsey and several others who have conducted research, the business case has been made for D&I.  In my opinion, I advise companies who do not see the need for an E-D-I strategy to start working on an E-X-I-T strategy because they will be unable to recruit talent; keep their teams intact; which will lead to delays or stoppage of R&D.  Non-advancement of science = no new investments. D&I drives innovation for better patient outcomes; stronger companies and industry growth. The greater the mix of people creates the greater the mix of skills, experiences, perspectives & ideas you can draw on to develop the therapies and devices needed for the patient population, which, in turn, grows the bottom line.

To learn more about MassBio, as well as the work they're doing and upcoming events on diversity click here.

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