In striving for your goals, you’re occasionally given a cause to reflect on where you’ve come from. For Liftstream, that occasion arrived in September of this year when being nominated by industry colleagues for the ‘Commitment to Diversity’ award in Massachusetts at the Xconomy Awards – owing to the incredible work being done by so many in this area, we were satisfied runners-up.
Being nominated by industry peers provoked us to think about things we have done that might give people a reason to put us forward. Indeed, during the past 12 months, we’ve really upped our game in our diversity efforts and have been leading at the very front line of this issue.
It all kicked off late last September (2016) when we hosted our 2nd annual diversity conference in Boston, with our partner Biogen. The event itself, The Board Meeting on Biotech Boardroom Diversity, brought together 270 C-level delegates from across the sector for expert presentations, a closed-session panel debate, roundtables, and the announcement of the inaugural Women in Bio – Boardroom Ready class. This was supported the following day by another conference held with our partner Massachusetts Biotechnology Council (MassBio), looking specifically towards the pipeline diversity issues. Both events generated tremendously valuable ideas and insights which we’ve been working on since. We also know that many people took inspiration from the events and went back to their companies to influence change.
In January 2017, we published a study, A Public Reality for Women in Biotech Boardrooms, which looked at the diversity of 177 biotech companies that became public companies in the past 4 years. This research was widely reported on and stimulated a new level of discussion about how we increase the cadence of change, otherwise, gender parity on biotech boards is projected to be 40 years away. This research has confirmed that women remain absent from the most senior levels of companies but gave us some new insights about how governance structures, investors and succession planning are contributing to this lack of gender diversity.
In March we took our Boston event to London, this time opening up the diversity debate to focus on ethnic and racial diversity, as well as gender. We were fortunate to have an international line-up of speakers, Chaired by Annalisa Jenkins – CEO of Dimension Therapeutics, to discuss the industry perspective. These esteemed leaders were preceded by UK policymakers from important corporate governance and diversity stakeholders such as the Financial Reporting Council, Hampton-Alexander Review, Parker Review and the Women’s Business Council. This forum provided many new and useful insights about how to deliver change in the absence of government policy, and how we can learn much from the work done on gender to elevate racial and ethnic minorities to C-suite and board leadership positions. These insights remain a substantial part of the program of initiatives we’ll be launching in the coming months.
Most recently, our productive partnership with MassBio resulted in the publication of a new research paper, The Path to a Diverse Future. This was the culmination of a 15 month study, which for the first time took a deep-dive into the life sciences sector’s talent pipeline and explored why women are not advancing to the C-suite and board. Our extensive data collection and analysis produced the evidence which challenges many commonly held perceptions about the lack of gender diversity, including the notion that women neither harbour executive ambitions or put themselves forward. In keeping with our goal to turn data into advocacy into action, the report highlights 7 broad actions to take, as well as 50 recommendations. It is now over to companies to begin the process of change – and we’ll be assisting them in implementing the change wherever we can through our suite of services.
It has been a progressive 12 months for us, which is perhaps why recognition has come our way. Yet we’re not for looking back. Our sights are trained on the future and we’re excited about all the great plans we have to help companies make the most of their human capital and to bring meaningful change in diversity and inclusion.