The director of America’s National Institutes of Health, Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., has taken a stand on diversity. He writes: “It is not enough to give lip service to equality; leaders must demonstrate their commitment through their actions.

“Toward that end, I want to send a clear message of concern: it is time to end the tradition in science of all-male speaking panels, sometimes wryly referred to as ‘manels.’

“Too often, women and members of other groups underrepresented in science are conspicuously missing in the marquee speaking slots at scientific meetings and other high-level conferences. Starting now, when I consider speaking invitations, I will expect a level playing field, where scientists of all backgrounds are evaluated fairly for speaking opportunities. If that attention to inclusiveness is not evident in the agenda, I will decline to take part. I challenge other scientific leaders across the biomedical enterprise to do the same.

“The diversity of bright and talented minds engaged in biomedical research has come a long way – and our public engagements need to catch up. Breaking up the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) bias that is preventing women and other groups underrepresented in science from achieving their rightful place in scientific leadership must begin at the top.”

There are growing calls for a more proactive stance to be taken to increase diversity across boardrooms too. As we reported last week, in the U.S. the campaign group CEO Action has already got hundreds of companies to pledge to actively increase the diversity of their boards.

One of the reasons Nurole’s platform was created was to get broader representation on boards, explains founder and CEO Susie Cummings, “A lack of diversity, whether it’s on a speaking panel or a company board, is often a warning sign that an organisation or entity is not looking far and wide enough to find the best talent.

“The Nurole talent platform was created to widen the access to that talent pool, so that the focus is on what you know and how you use that knowledge, rather than who you know.”


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