Pushing the Envelope to Achieve Greater STEM Diversity

Pushing the Envelope to Achieve Greater STEM Diversity

Pushing the Envelope to Achieve Greater STEM Diversity 260 200 Exploristics

Why a Silver Charter Mark Matters

By Dr Caroline O’Hare, Business Communications and Marketing

Recently we were delighted to learn that Exploristics had attained the coveted Silver Charter Mark from Diversity Mark, an organisation founded in 2016 by Women in Business to deliver greater diversity and inclusivity across organisations. This award was conferred on us in recognition of the milestones we had already met as well as the new targets we had set ourselves on our ongoing equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) journey. We first achieved a Bronze Charter Mark in 2019 and then retained it through the pandemic despite the challenges of homeworking. Nevertheless, 2022 held the promise of loosening COVID-19 restrictions encouraging us to push ourselves as an organisation and build on what we had already accomplished. So why does a Silver Charter Mark matter to us?

Striving for a Silver Charter Mark is significant for several reasons. Firstly, it is an external independent assessment of our approach to EDI. The application process has provided a useful framework around which to consider in detail how we will extend and embed our EDI objectives and importantly how we will measure this. It’s one thing to talk in general terms about increasing diversity and inclusion but it’s much harder to pinpoint exactly how it will be delivered. When we embarked on our EDI journey with Diversity Mark, our goals were primarily gender-based with the aim of supporting greater gender diversity at all levels of the company. Since then, we have sought and succeeded in encouraging a better gender balance of talent coming into the company for early-stage career positions with approaches such as the use of gender-neutral language in posted job roles, more inclusive imagery in company communications and flexible working initiatives to help attract and keep more women in STEM positions. Over time, this gender balance has percolated up into management positions supported by embedding a skills matrix for career progression and bringing in management mentors to embolden talented individuals of all genders to aim for more. As more highly skilled women have moved into management levels this has created tangible senior female role models and so a positive feedback loop.

Secondly, striving for silver matters to us because by now extending our EDI targets further we are seeking as a community to widen our horizons and improve our understanding of the issues that people may be facing silently within our own workplace. By seeing what best practice looks like in other companies and by bringing in key educational expertise, we are opening ourselves up to becoming better co-workers and to providing more support for those among us who might be facing mental health challenges, those who have differences in cognitive and physical ability, those who are LGBTQ+ or those who are of different ethnicities. By going for silver, we are demonstrating that these talented communities within the company are both important and valued by us. In creating safe spaces in which to communicate and by fostering greater understanding through education, we hope to create allies at all levels of the company and build bridges to ensure that no one feels isolated, undervalued, or misunderstood. In doing this, we are all winners as we nurture a creative and accepting workplace culture that can allow each and every one of us to shine on our own terms. Finally, striving for silver matters because in an uncertain world bringing people together is more than just a box ticking exercise. We are pushing the envelope to achieve greater STEM diversity and inclusion and ultimately greater success together.