The Color of Biotech
In 2017 a group of professionals of color from Biogen, Pfizer, Sanofi Genzyme, Takeda and Vertex came together to create a networking opportunity for people of color working primarily in the Kendall Square and the Seaport areas, both of which have quickly become global hubs of scientific innovation and business opportunity.
While many people of color are working in Biotech and Pharma, there are not many opportunities for them to come together for business networking, social exchange, job opportunities and development. From R&D and manufacturing to sales and HR to legal and finance there are many people of color working and thriving in Biotech and Pharma.
From this gathering the “Color of Biotech Massachusetts” was formed. Their Mission is crystal clear: “To create a community for professionals of color within Greater Boston’s growing Biotechnology sector that fosters collaboration, networking, support and innovation. This community will foster and promote diversity and inclusion as a means to increase both the number of professionals of color in Biotechnology and their career satisfaction”
Tanisha Sullivan, Founding Member
Fellow, CEO Action for Racial Equity
Office of the President
Tanisha has been working in the life sciences field for almost 25 years ago added: “We didn’t quite know what we were launching, but during our first event at Pfizer we saw first-hand the thirst that was in our industry for a space where we could come together to support one another, share opportunities, and increase exposure.
From 2017 to 2021 there has been tremendous growth in our network. It is my hope that as we shine a light on the industry that young people will come to understand that this is an industry within which they can build a career, and through the Color of Biotech MA we are doing the necessary work to ensure that it is an inclusive and welcoming industry.”
Today, with an active database of over 600 professionals in the greater Boston area, once a quarter the Color of Biotech MA will host a BioDiversity Networking event at various organizations throughout the Boston area, these events will feature an industry speaker, forums or discussions along with networking.
I did not plan on being in STEM said founding member Denise Barrant, “I came from non-profit. I had not given much thought to STEM and just happened to get an opportunity. I found I really enjoyed it. Pharma affects us all. Many of us, our families and friends, have health conditions, for example, allergies, asthma, diabetes or cancer. Our companies provide treatments that extend and also improve the quality of our lives. I have been participating in clinical trials for over 10 years. There are not enough black and brown people in clinical trials. Our communities benefit from medical technologies and scientific advancements.”
Lawrence Rock, Founding Member
Collaboration is a key element of the Color of Biotech MA, fostering discussions on best practices for providing support to professionals of color in Biotech companies. Promote: The Color of Biotech will champion Diversity and Inclusion not only within our respective companies but also with non-profits, conferences and professional organizations.
Sean K. Daughtry, Founding Member
Director, Technical Operations Analytical
In speaking with another one of the initial founders of the Color of Biotech MA, Sean Daughtry he noted that “in addition to my demanding full-time responsibilities at Vertex, the work centered around
the Color of Biotech is strictly voluntary and is not a company driven initiative”, but yet is supported by their organizations which speaks volumes of their individual companies.
Daughtry continues “ever since I read my first book on dinosaurs, which was in the 2nd grade, I wanted to be a scientist. In high school I had an awesome chemistry teacher, Ms. Vielle, and fell in love with chemistry. I have been a chemist ever since. I was amazed, when I first found out that they actually pay you to work in a lab. I thought you would have to pay to have that much fun. In addition to my love for STEM, I recognize how vital it is that we are part of the STEM community. In addition to the jobs, participating in a growing field, and being on the cutting edge of research, our viewpoint is sorely needed. Hiring diverse candidates, making sure people of color are included in clinical trials, ensuring testing is conducted ethically, and dismissing bogus theories linking race to intelligence is what full inclusion in STEM can produce. It has been shown that companies with diverse leadership make better decisions and are more profitable. To that same end, when science is led by a diverse team, no one is left out and everyone benefits”.
Anne Marie Richard, Founding Member
Patient and External Association Engagement Lead
Internal Medicine Research Unit -
When asked about what motivated her to the STEM field, Ann-Marie Richard, one of the founding members shared “Growing up on a tiny Caribbean island with a Mom who was a nurse, I spent many days hanging out on the hospital wards with her doing mini chores. There, I also saw first-hand the passion among the medical staff as they cared for their patients the best they could with the very limited resources and supplies they had to work with. My passion for pursuing a STEM education, at the time, medicine, grew out of wanting to be in a position to do more to improve the lives of patients. That, in my opinion, is the greatest value of a STEM education – the opportunity to develop innovative scientific and medical breakthroughs that can positively impact so many lives”.
Ann-Marie also added that, “Today, there are millions of young boys and girls in our black and brown communities who have the passion but not the opportunity to get into STEM careers. The CoB can help foster an equitable environment among BioPharma companies that will create opportunities for underrepresented students.”
In addition to the founding members, Biogen has also maintained its support of the Color of Biotech through Alazar Ayele who leads their Community Lab.
Did you know the average salary for a STEM professional in Massachusetts is around $138,000.00 compared to the national non-STEM salary which is around $70,000.00? STEM affects everything we see and touch today, from bridges, smart phones, medicine, weather, computers and so much more! With only 4% of African Americans working or teaching in a STEM field in the US, it demonstrates why the work of the “Color of Biotech Massachusetts” is so crucial to the development of STEM professionals. The Ethnic Online STEM Foundation whose mission is to “build the next generation of ETHNIC STEM professionals” looks forward to working with likeminded organizations like the Color of Biotech Massachusetts!
Thank you founding members Ann-Marie Richard, Lawrence Rock, Denise Barrant, Sean Daughtry and Tanisha Sullivan for your vision, passion and commitment to diversifying the field of STEM through “Color of Biotech Massachusetts”
For more information on STEM initiatives visit www.ethniconlinestem.org