2021 and 2022 has seen huge sectors and companies like HP committing to 2030 diversity and inclusion goals and the space sector has now committed to its own pledge for the future of its workforce. Signed at the 37th Space Symposium by 23 executives, the pledge seeks to increase underrepresented genders, races, religions, cultures, and ethnicities.
EVONA’s own research from a recruitment perspective of hiring women in space, highlighted that whilst 38% of our placements into C-level roles were women, across the rest of the industry this was only 17%. Furthermore, only 12% are founders and CEO’s, one of them being Melanie Stricklan who is taking a front seat in the plans for diversity and inclusion in space alongside Steve Isakowitz and Roy Azevedo.
We were really grateful to speak to Melanie on our podcast, EVONA Origin Stories, speaking about her journey into the space sector and insights into the need for diversity to progress the industry.
You can listen to the whole podcast on our Spotify Channel here.
The space workforce 2030 pledge commits those that have signed to reporting data on diversity and inclusion annually and working with universities to grow the numbers of diverse and underrepresented students in technical degrees that are crucial in the industry.
The specific goals Include:
The 24 executives also agreed to:
The Leaders and relative companies that have agreed to the Space Workforce 2030 pledge are:
Collectively tackling the issues now will make a difference for future generations, however, it’s understood that the problem begins before workers even enter the sector. The pledge not only recognises gender and race as a diversity and inclusion issue but also students graduating and hoping to enter the workforce, hence the two bullet points focusing on universities and K-12 programmes.
Referring back to our research on women in space, in Engineering alone it’s noted that only 31% of engineer graduates in 2020 were women with only 24% of individuals in an engineering profession as of last year identifying as female, decreasing even further for those entering into a career in space.
Over the past few years EVONA have also recognised the issue surrounding students, facilitating education workshops to inspire them to join the space sector through our space spectra webinars. Recently we contacted local STEM students to gather a further understanding of the barriers STEM students have when considering a career in space.
The main issues noted were that most STEM subjects don’t have space content as part of their syllabus, many have a lack of information about the sector and believe their skills are not relevant.
Previously UKSEDS have noted that “students need to be made aware of potential career paths they can work towards… encouraging them to consider a career they wouldn’t have known about otherwise, fostering interest in particular subjects, making it more likely for them to invest time in developing skills needed within the sector.”
These issues present a demand for the key points of the pledge and could make a real difference to the future of the space workforce for young people, solving diversity and inclusion issues from the bottom up.
Workplace diversity is important in all sectors and studies show that currently 57% of recruiters have strategies to attract diverse candidates. Achieving greater diversity has a multitude of benefits, as including a range of perspectives improves problem solving, enhances innovation and creativity, reduced employee turnover and improved hiring results to name a few. Not only does it have internal benefits, companies with higher levels of diversity and inclusion are proven to outperform their competitors by 35%.
Whilst the issue as a whole is complicated, not all solutions have to be. There are a number of simple and creative ways to champion this cause within your recruitment strategies!
Ways to improve Diversity:
· Recruitment teams need to actively strategize how to advertise jobs in order to maximise the audience they appeal to, specifically those of underrepresented groups.
· Family friendly policies like part-time, flexible working, parental leave and onsite nurseries are a great way to indicate the company is inclusive for those with children
· Championing for causes than resonate with underrepresented groups with partnerships/ donations/ fundraising demonstrates the inclusive culture and diversity ethos.
· Using anonymous profiling or software like PitchMe to remove bias from recruitment practices and only hire those with the right requirements for the role
· Belonging to an advisory group to assist with implementing company strategies, policies, and initiatives.
· Offering internships or mentoring for underrepresented groups
· Showing people from underrepresented groups in leadership positions and on the boards
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