We Came Together to Take a Stand for Transgender Equality and Helped ‘Yes on 3’ Win in Massachusetts
- Biogen worked with the biotech community to get behind the Yes on 3 campaign
- Yes on 3 Campaign highlighted the clear business case for inclusion
In 2016 Biogen joined a broad coalition of citizens, interest groups and businesses promoting a Massachusetts bill to protect transgender people from discrimination in public accommodations, including restaurants, retail stores and health care facilities.
Soon after successful passage, a petition began to repeal the law via a ballot initiative, called Question 3. A ‘no’ vote would repeal the law while voting ‘yes’ would preserve it. Therefore, the campaign to protect transgender rights in Massachusetts became known as ‘Yes on 3.’
We believe diversity and inclusion are essential to our business and it was important for us to take a stand. After getting involved with the initiative, ReachOUT, our Employee Resource Network (ERN) for LGBTQ employees and allies, engaged our employees in several initiatives. In collaboration with other ERNs, the group sponsored voter registration drives across the United States and hosted a lunch-and-learn that aimed to educate employees on what it means to be an ally for the transgender community. Additionally, CEO Michel Vounatsos signed a letter to other Massachusetts’ biotech companies, asking them to join us in conversation to discuss the case for keeping the law in place and to raise awareness of the ‘Yes on 3’ campaign.
“There is a business case to retaining and recruiting talent,” noted the ‘Yes on 3’ coalition director, Krina Patel, who herself joined Biogen as Northeast Region Associate Director for State Public Policy and Government Affairs once the campaign ended – successfully – with the nondiscrimination measure still in place.
“The number one reason I picked Biogen is because of how active they were on this issue,” she added. “They cared before it became a big deal.”