By Carol Grace
Compared to other careers, underrepresentation is rampant in STEM-related roles. According to job statistics by Pew Research Center, Black and Hispanic workers remain underrepresented in various STEM occupations, only making up 8-9% of STEM jobs. This share is lower in specific job clusters, such as engineering and architecture, with only 5% of black workers making up the total workforce. While women comprise 50% of the STEM workforce, 74% are healthcare practitioners and technicians — making other fields vastly outnumbered by men. With robotics highly dependent on computers and engineering, it’s unsurprising that diversity in the industry is at an all-time low.
Importance of diversity and inclusion While diversity and inclusion in technology fields are morally significant, there are also strong business reasons why companies should invest in these values. Company growth and progress rely heavily on its employees — if employees don’t feel appreciated or safe within their roles, they will eventually leave. As robotics is a highly specialized field, it’s challenging to find skilled workers who can effectively fulfill the same tasks. Rather than letting valuable employees go, robotics companies must emphasize diversity and inclusion (D&I) in their workspaces.
As reported by the Entrepreneur on diversity and inclusion, a company having D&I practices can promote employee retention, increase employee well-being, foster positive company culture, and even boost the company's reputation. Furthermore, these values encourage employees to bring creativity to their work, bringing more significant innovation that can bring a robotics company towards success.
How can companies promote diversity and inclusion Considering how important diversity and inclusion are to the growth of businesses, company leaders and owners must take steps towards greater diversity and inclusion in their workplace. Listed below are some ways robotics companies can promote diversity and inclusion:
Pivoting hiring practices As consumers and employees call for greater diversity and inclusion, more companies are extending programs, including hiring practices, to address these concerns. LHH’s insights on recruitment trends note that while these practices were being established before the pandemic, there has since been accelerated progress towards approaching diversity and inclusion in the workspace. In fact, more than 60% of S&P 500 companies have hired or created a chief D&I officer position within the last three years. Through these D&I leaders, there is a greater opportunity to address weak succession planning and recruitment issues affected by the lack of diversity and inclusion.
One way organizations can ensure greater diversity in the workplace is to pivot their hiring practices toward neutrality. As robotics is a highly technical field, companies can choose candidates solely on job criteria and skills rather than personal characteristics such as age, sex, and race. This criterion can ensure hiring officers make more consistent decisions, opening up the position for more people to apply.
Promoting equity in robotics education Workers in the robotics field don’t appear overnight but have their interest in the field fostered since they were students. However, insights from our post “Promoting Diversity and Inclusion In Robotics Education” note that some students may be hesitant to pursue STEM-related careers, especially engineering, because of the negative stereotypes associated with the role. As a result, engineering is one of the least diverse STEM careers in the world.
To achieve greater diversity and inclusivity, IT companies, especially those in the robotics industry, can promote greater student interest by focusing on equity. Companies can inspire students through tech demonstrations and provide the means for schools to teach robotics through free software and other relevant tools. Furthermore, companies can also bring in role models representing minorities, helping build greater STEM confidence and making robotics more approachable.
Exclusively for RobotLAB.