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CEO DATELINE – BIO urges membership to appoint more women to leadership roles

Oct. 9, 2018
By Walt Williams

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The Biotechnology Innovation Organization is urging member companies to appoint more women to leadership and board positions in coming years—an announcement coming only a few months after the association strongly condemned an industry event that featured topless women.

BIO recently sent a letter to members noting the work of its Workforce Development, Diversity & Inclusion Committee, which was formed in 2017 to explore ways to foster workforce diversity in the biotechnology industry. The committee recently developed two key goals for BIO’s membership and is currently developing action plans and initiatives to implement them. The goals are:

  • Achieve 50 percent representation of women at functional leader and C-Suite positions in biotech companies by 2025. Women currently fill less than 25 percent of those positions. Also, achieve improved racial diversity and increased LGBTQ representation.
  • Achieve 30 percent female board membership in biotech companies by 2025. Women current fill 10 percent of board positions. Also, achieve improved racial diversity and LGBTQ representation.

Like many industries, biotech has been criticized for its lack of workforce diversity and for fostering work environments hostile to women. BIO jumped into the fray in June when a non-affiliated event held in conjunction with the group’s annual convention was blasted by critics for featuring topless women. The association condemned the event and its board chairman suggested any companies who sponsored such events in the future should be kicked out of the organization.

BIO didn’t directly address the incident in its letter but emphasized that industry events should be included in discussions about creating inclusive work environments.

“We are determined to come together to embrace equality and inclusiveness, confront unconscious bias, and address sexist biases in all aspects of the biotechnology ecosystem—in the workplace, in our business operations, in the products we produce, and at all industry-affiliated activities and events,” the group said.