Two decades ago, science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs were progressively integrated throughout our education system and workforce. Rising Above the Gathering Storm, a 2005 report from the U.S. National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, first established the link between our nation’s prosperity and continued innovation and jobs in STEM. The early 2000’s shifted our attention to STEM research in order to enable our global competitiveness. And the United States still has opportunity to grow in order to match the dominance of nations such as China and India in STEM. For decades, global nations have furthered their own STEM efforts through advanced research and development as well as historic innovation. The key to our continued prosperity is impacted by our own inclusion efforts.
In these last few months, we have yet again seen the power, importance and relevancy of STEM. Technology has driven our ability to work remotely and move businesses forward even if we aren’t in our offices. Science has pioneered medical innovation and research as we fight COVID-19. In this new normal, STEM is making a global impact.
Our businesses within these industries, however, need to be inspiring change as well. To move forward, our workforce should represent 100% of our global talent and market. This includes gender balance with women and men of all races, geographies, sexualities and socioeconomic backgrounds. We need to have organizations and even more, a society, that promotes diversity of thoughts and ideas. Diversity and inclusion objectives within STEM are meant to emphasize all perspectives, not single out a gender or race.
Businesses increase their likelihood to thrive, both internally and externally, when diverse viewpoints are present. However, men still outnumber women in STEM industries by over 28%. Businesses and society are missing the ability to tackle problems, solve disruptions and enable growth by not having gender balance and representation. To combat this increasing gender gap, we must examine cultural misconceptions. For instance, the profession one chooses does not need to be influenced by outdated gender roles.
In addition to gender balance, we need our businesses to mimic our world’s mix of nationalities, ethnicities and cultures. Further representation enables diversity of thought, skills, experience and knowledge. It ultimately leads to curiosity as businesses explore new solutions and services for clients. Inclusion of individuals from all places and backgrounds will empower an organization’s ability to innovate.
True progress begins when we highlight the role models we work alongside every day. Role models can be found everywhere. They are in your morning Zoom meetings, afternoon email chains and after work happy hours. They are your coworkers who are parents, caretakers and guardians offering an inspiring perspective on balancing work and life. Change is enabled when we reflect on our present influences, our historic role models and those we work alongside with day in and out. These voices, mindsets and ideals will influence how all businesses move forward.
Where we can progress
Ultimately, a woman or man joining your team affects gender balance but does not make it more diverse. It is gender balance plus diversity of thought that more powerfully affects our ability to achieve desired business outcomes. Emphasizing everyone’s unique contributions and different voices are at the core of both gender balance and diversity.
So, let me ask you…
These questions are inspiring me as I think of where Unisys can go moving forward. I encourage you to answer these with your teams. The potential is endless when we fully embrace gender balance and diversity in our professional lives.