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Fri, Dec 14, 2012

Ideas & Trends

Diversity Recruiting in STEM Professions

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This post is by Lise Poulos, executive vice president and chief administrative officer for Monster Worldwide.

Workplace diversity is a vital strategy for building a strong business. Certainly here at Monster, we consider diversity and inclusion to be paramount to our success as an organization, and leverage diversity in our own workforce for strategic advantage in our competitive market.

As Monster’s chief administrative officer and the executive sponsor of our company’s Diversity & Inclusion Council, I am also well aware that STEM professions are the backbone of innovation and, arguably, the most difficult fields of diversity recruitment and retention.

Monster has a core responsibility to offer critical recruitment and labor information to the marketplace. We search for answers to the most difficult recruitment and career-management challenges for employers and job seekers alike. To that end, Monster teamed with Harris Interactive to conduct a comprehensive online survey of executives with direct responsibility for diversity in recruiting and hiring employees. In addition, researchers conducted in-depth interviews with a number of senior recruiting executives. The specific focus of the research was the achievement of diversity recruiting goals in the STEM professions.

Survey results found most organizations that employ significant numbers of employees in science, technology, engineering and mathematical (STEM) professions recognize the competitive value and success driven by having a diverse workforce. Still, companies continue to face challenges as they strive to achieve the diversity they seek.

In response to a question of whether diverse STEM candidates benefit organizations, 62 percent of recruiters in architecture and engineering, computer and mathematics or life, physical and social science disciplines said “very much.” Another 30 percent said “somewhat.” The top benefits diverse STEM candidates bring to organizations, said respondents, are new attitudes/ideas (84 percent), learning opportunities (76 percent) and creativity (69 percent).

Survey respondents did identify four main challenges to reaching greater levels of diversity: a limited supply of qualified candidates, hiring managers who hire candidates similar to themselves, corporate cultures that support filling open positions through tenure or seniority, and hiring managers becoming discouraged by candidates’ failure to fit in.

The research also tells us the national imbalance of supply and demand in diversity STEM recruiting is real, long-term and driven by many interacting factors. While individual companies can promote greater participation in STEM careers for underrepresented groups, they will compete for diverse candidates for years to come.

Diversity and inclusion are smart business processes, not just good intentions. Survey respondents overwhelmingly agreed effective diversity recruiting requires strategic long-term planning and execution, just as any other major initiative does, and when successful, follows much the same trajectory.

Our goal in producing this report is to highlight some key areas of focus for companies and spawn new thinking about ways to address STEM recruitment and retention.
This study provides an overview of the real obstacles organizations face in diversity recruiting for STEM professions, while highlighting companies whose efforts serve as models for how to effectively address these challenges.

Access the full report or check out this infographic for a visual snapshot of topline results.

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