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It’s clear the respondents to STEM Workforce Diversity’s 19th Annual Reader Survey - our readers - have been been benefiting from a high demand for their expertise, problem-solving and analytical skills, and creativity. They’ve been making their mark in their respective disciplines in the STEM fields and demonstrating the strength of a STEM degree and background. They also show how the future is in STEM.
In fact, STEM professionals have been thriving in an economy and a job market that entered 2020 and the new decade still strong, with several studies also showing strong hiring intentions and workforce expansions extending from last year into 2020.
However, in a stark and sobering turn of events, more recently the economy and the job market have been severely impacted by the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, causing much more uncertainty this year instead of continuing the brighter outlook that was predicted at the start of this year.
All of this uncertainty on the heels of such a strong economy and job market is a lot to process, especially as the human impact continues to unfold. But as all of this shakes out, the advice of respondents to this year’s survey is more important than ever to remember - especially as they continue to flourish in their respective STEM fields and careers, and as they represent a range of experience that takes them from the start of their careers to later in their careers after weathering similar uncertainty in the economic and job markets during the Great Recession and post-9/11, for instance.
They urge job seekers to take heart and keep moving forward even in the face of uncertainty. “Be positive, keep an open mind, persevere, stay focused on your goals, and put in the work to attain your goals and dreams,” they advise, adding, “Put fear aside, embrace your self-confidence and just go for it.”
They further advise their STEM peers to “know your worth, and show your strengths,” and to “follow your passion and never give up on your dreams.”
Readers, who represent undergraduate and graduate students, and entry-level employees, managers, supervisors, and executives in the public and private sector across all STEM fields - also revealed the biggest issues they face in the job market.
They include seeing too few STEM professionals who are members of minority groups and diverse cultures in the workplace, needing more members of minority groups and diverse cultures in STEM hiring, management, and executive positions, finding not enough promotion potential, and experiencing conscious and unconscious bias in the workforce today, all while noting that more needs to be done to fix this.
To combat this, they urge employers to emphasize diversity and inclusion (D&I) in the workplace, and ensure the workplace is inviting and inclusive so all viewpoints are welcome, diversity of thought can thrive, and individuals can bring their authentic selves to work each day.
They also suggest searching globally for candidates, reaching out to colleges and universities that emphasize diversity, as well as being open-minded and flexible, providing fair and equal opportunity for all, and hiring good and qualified employees who are both recent graduates and experienced who are also members of minority groups and diverse cultures.
Readers further recommend evaluating equity regularly, offering a flexible promotion track, providing more co-op and internship opportunities, putting more members of minority groups and diverse cultures in leadership roles to encourage more diverse mindsets and attract a more diverse pool of candidates to STEM, and aligning employees with good mentorship that includes job-shadowing, job rotation, training, and career development and advancement to increase productivity and promotion potential, to maximize learning, and to retain good and happy employees.
This is something that the employers on the annual the Top 50 Employers and Top 20 Government Employers lists, as named by readers, already understand and do.
In what has become tradition, we totaled survey respondents’ answers about the companies for which they’d most like to work or which they believe would provide a positive working environment for STEM professionals who are members of minority groups and diverse cultures.
Those that appear on the yearly lists, as named by readers, clearly understand hiring a diversified STEM workforce strengthens their business.
They, along with many employers across industries and in government, further understand that fostering an inclusive culture is fundamental to attracting and retaining top talent, especially in the STEM fields and as STEM touches almost every aspect of business today, from creative problem-solving and critical thinking to applications, analytics, and technology.
So it’s no surprise that recruiting and retaining a diversified workforce, especially a diversified STEM workforce, is a business imperative. It’s also no surprise that it’s also a top item that influences job choice among STEM professionals who are also members of minority groups and diverse cultures.
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