There’s not enough diversity in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). Statistic after statistic confirms it – just 3% of students joining information and communication technology (ICT) courses worldwide are women and less than 20% of NHS staff identify as black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) to name a couple.

In a year when conversations around diversity have never been more prominent – or important – we’re committed to building on our history so that opportunities are opened up to minorities and underserved communities.

As the only global pure play STEM staffing specialists, we know that the world was facing a serious STEM skills crisis before Covid-19 — by 2030, there will be 50 million unfilled STEM vacancies worldwide — and this issue has only been exacerbated by the ongoing health crisis.

The only way we will even begin to bridge this skills gap is by opening up access to the STEM professions to people from all walks of life, ethnicities and backgrounds and encouraging them so that they feel empowered to move into these specialist roles.

We know that there are some very real barriers out there, but it’s only through diversity of people that STEM can fulfill its potential and solve the complex problems our world is facing right now.

SThree’s legacy. When I joined a year and a half ago, SThree already had a rich history of promoting diversity and inclusion at a global level. Through the SThree Foundation, we’ve helped more than 4000 people from diverse backgrounds in STEM, and through charity partnership, we funded an innovation lab to empower African Science Academy students to find STEM solutions to community challenges.

And we’re continuing to build on this work to promote greater access to STEM. Our renewed Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) strategy is guided by the universal truth that great minds do not think, look or act alike and is powered, all around the world, by our people.

We are working towards being leaders in the D&I space. This means taking an active role in making STEM industries more diverse and accessible to, in turn, help solve complex, global issues. These issues — sourcing a vaccine for Covid-19, accelerating digital transformations to keep the world moving even in tough times, and helping solve climate change — are exactly why our commitment to meaningful diversity and authentic inclusivity is so vital.

Let me share with you some of the top line activity we are doing in this space. I know that we can do more, but I am proud of what has been achieved to date:

At SThree. We listen to our people and take time to understand their lived experiences and perceptions. We also analyse demographic data across our business that allows us to address our own barriers head on – and stamp out anything that’s restricting career progression for people from diverse backgrounds.

We will continue to build an inclusive, supportive and encouraging environment for all and ensure we are leading the way in diversity and inclusion within our industry.

Supporting our customers. STEM skills are more important now than ever before, and in demand as ever. From speaking to our clients across the globe, we know that three quarters of them are actively hiring, and of those 56% are matching their pre-pandemic recruitment levels. But 70% have also said that finding the specialist skills and niche expertise they need is a challenge.

As their staffing partner, we have a responsibility to help our clients not only find the talent they need, but to help them achieve their ambitions to make STEM more diverse too.

Further, we listen to our candidates to understand the barriers they have faced in their careers and bring together the partners who will help remove these barriers.

Working with community partners. We work with community partners to create opportunities, remove barriers and ensure talented people can develop the careers they deserve, regardless of geography, gender or geopolitics.

While I am committed to and inspired by the action SThree is taking to do better, we cannot do it alone. The private sector, government and academia must join forces to create a strategy for STEM education, retraining, improving diversity and commit to closing the STEM skills gap for good.  There is much more to be done, let’s work together to make a difference.