The world is facing monumental challenges in the time of COVID-19, widening existing gaps in racial and gender equity. Women’s participation in the labor force has shrunk to levels last seen in 1988, with significant impacts to women in the BIPOC community. Now, more than ever, there’s an opportunity for business leaders to take actionable steps to emphasize and strengthen equity and inclusion in the workplace.
In honor of International Women’s Day, Enspira invited inspirational and transformational leaders in STEM to discuss disparities in equitable access and the impact it has on our daily lives. Our “Transformative Personal Narratives: Propelling Gender & Racial Equity in STEM'' virtual event panelists included:
The conversation covered topics such as COVID’s catastrophic impact on health equity and access within underrepresented communities, our true identities and the internal and external factors that have shaped them, and much more. For Seth, identity is malleable and shifts as people grow and are exposed to new realities about the world, however there will always be aspects of our identities that are entrenched in our roots. All of these factors, internal and external, can contribute to our biases, whether conscious or not, and only when we understand how all the pieces fit together can we begin to address the inequity that exists in our workplace.
Gaps in gender and race equity are present in everything we do, and it begs the question, how do we reach underrepresented communities and how can we best address their needs? How do we change deeply embedded societal norms that disproportionately serve more privileged communities?
The panelists uncovered many of these inequities in their industries. Through her work with Equip Health, Parks challenges the common perception that someone with an eating disorder is young, white, female and privileged, when in fact only 20% of people with eating disorders are diagnosed and 80% of those who go undiagnosed are people of color, older, or male. She now strives to reach these communities and provide them access to the treatment they need.
Through CodePath, Ellison works to transform computer science education for women and underrepresented minorities, creating opportunities to begin their careers in tech, an industry that is heavily dominated by white males. His experience has taught him that you’ll typically get the job or internship if you know someone or have family connections, an industry characteristic that doesn’t apply to underrepresented communities and widens the gap in equitable access.
While these leaders have all taken tremendous actions towards addressing existing gaps in gender parity, making a difference begins with all of us and how we show up in our communities. Towards the end of the panel discussion, Riley asks us to think about what we’re doing when no one is watching. She asks us to shape our daily habits to be more inclusive, to not be cognizant of inequity only when we’re supposed to be. She reminds us that it’s not a performance, and she pushes us to be authentic allies.
To learn more about Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging and additional Enspira offerings, such as DI&B 101, Allyship sessions and more, click here: DI&B Learning & Development.
To watch the virtual event in its entirety, click here.