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Women in STEM 2021

Five ways for businesses to improve diversity in STEM

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 Sandra Kerr CBE

Race Equality Director, Business in the Community

Racism is everyone’s problem and STEM organisations can help tackle it. 

Race needs to be on every business leader’s agenda. We need inspiring role models in STEM fields from diverse backgrounds and moreover, we need businesses to support them. Only by working together can we keep making progress, and businesses can lead the way, by doing five things: 

1. Diversify leadership at the very top 

In senior management roles across private sector organisations, just 1.5% are held by Black leaders – an increase of 0.1% since 2014.1 This can change by business leaders diversifying the talent on their leadership boards.  

2. Make race part of the agenda 

Since the first Race at Work Survey in 2015, thousands of employees from across the UK have shared their experiences and barriers faced in the workplace. Businesses can commit to tackling racism at work by joining 740 other companies in signing up to the Race at Work Charter and by encouraging their staff to complete this year’s Race at Work Survey 2021.  

3. Prioritise diversity and inclusion in recruitment 

You know it’s a problem when 33% of Black candidates believe their ethnicity will be a barrier to landing their next job, as opposed to just 1% of White applicants. This needs to change and by setting diverse recruitment targets to ensure a fair selection process, more diverse talent will be attracted.  

The Race at Work survey in 2018 found that 56% of Black African women want a mentor.

4. Raise up your role models and uplift mentors 

The Race at Work survey in 2018 found that 56% of Black African women want a mentor compared to 22% of White British women and 39% of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic women overall.2 By creating a network of mentors, more women in STEM will feel supported and empowered at work.  

5. Allies can attribute and amplify 

We need allies. In the Black Voices Report, just 49% of Black employees believed they were given credit for their ideas and contributions at work, compared to 57% of White, Asian and mixed/multiple ethnic group employees.  

For women in STEM to succeed, we need to lift each other up, give credit where it’s due and support one another. Businesses can be the power behind progress, they just have to make it happen.  

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