How to Increase STEM Diversity
Take a broad view of what diversity is. At Fish, we think of diversity in many different ways—in perspectives and backgrounds, genders, religions, sexual orientations, physical abilities, cultures, and the infinite differences that distinguish us from one another. Diversity and inclusion are pillars of our firm, and we strengthen them by embracing a wide range of individuals.
Be focused and mindful in your recruiting. Evaluate the needs of diverse individuals entering STEM fields and find ways to support the talent pipeline. My firm’s fellowship pro¬gram is a good example. We provide diverse first-year law students with paid summer positions, mentoring, and scholarships. The program represents a key component of our ongoing initiative to recruit, retain, and advance attorneys who have a specific interest in technology law and will contribute to the diversity of our practice and the legal profession.
Foster a culture that supports diverse leaders. Diverse leadership is important to recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce. STEM businesses need to promote from within and create policies that work towards increasing the number of individuals with diverse backgrounds in leadership positions. Many of Fish’s departments, committees, subcommittees, affinity groups, and initiatives are led by diverse individuals, which is a direct result of our commitment to increasing leadership opportunities.
Breaking down Barriers
Historically, the roadblocks to closing the gender gap were more overt. Even though they are more subtle today, the barriers women in STEM face still exist. However, we now have more champions of gender diversity, who are leading the efforts to place more women in STEM.
Many companies are addressing the problem individually. But as the saying goes, “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” By joining forces, sharing ideas and resources, and speaking in one voice, we’ll see those barriers break down faster.
Corporate America is looking internally and externally to close the gap. Many major companies are demanding diversity from their outside teams and vendors, making it a condition of employment. When STEM companies take bold approaches to closing their own gender and diversity gaps—and demand that those they do business with do the same—it will create a culture that reflects the diversity of their employees, customers, and the communities where they do business.
Organizations that are addressing the gender gap are growing stronger and more powerful. Within the legal industry, we see many groups facing diversity issues head on, including ChIPs, an organization that advances and connects women in technology, law, and policy.