January 17, 2022

The Diversity Challenge STEM—And How We’re Solving It

Tinisha Bookhart

The Diversity Challenge STEM—And How We’re Solving It 

When we founded Primary Talent Partners, we wanted to devise the most cost-effective, scalable, and reliable staffing model for vendor-neutral MSP and internally client-managed contingent labor programs in the country. And we’ve accomplished that. But we had another, more personal goal when we started this company: increasing minority candidate flow into the contingent labor programs we support and breaking down the barriers that contribute to the lack of Black representation in the field in the first place. 

It requires a fairly impressive blindspot not to notice a severe, generational issue with minority representation in STEM degrees in universities and related careers across the country. Studies show that over 40% of Black STEM students drop out of school or change majors compared to just over 20% of their white peers. Two main factors that contribute to this are: (1) a lack of adequate funding to complete their degree and (2) a lack of a “feeling of belonging.” Year after year, these two pervasive threats continually challenge, impede, and ultimately reduce the number of Black applicants in STEM-related occupations. 

Even in areas like computing jobs, which have enjoyed considerable growth ,Black workers remain severely underrepresented. Black workers comprise just 9% of those in STEM occupations, and that figure declines to 5% when focusing specifically on engineering.  Even more troubling is that there has been no statistically significant change to that percentage since 2016. 

Besides being a stark indictment of broader societal inequities, the current climate of diversity in STEM comes to the detriments of its very employers. Year after year, the scientific literature connecting diverse workforces to increased performance (on a variety of metrics) grows both in size and legitimacy. Here are just a few convincing findings from recent studies: 

● Diverse teams make better decisions than non-diverse teams up to 87% of the time ● Companies in the top quartile for diversity are 15% more likely to generate above-average profitability 

● Diverse workforces have higher morale and are more productive, innovative, and loyal to their organization 

From the very moment of our company’s inception, we set out to treat the problem rather than the symptoms that so many minorities experience along the way to earning a degree in STEM and help our clients enjoy benefits like those cited above. Since 2019, the year we were founded, we’ve worked methodically to effect change for diverse groups looking to enter the field. Below, we’ll go into greater detail about our several diversIT programs.

This graphic from The Kapor Center shows the disparities when it comes to black workers in the tech workforce/recruiting.

PTP’s diversIT Programs 

diversIT Scholars 

This section of our holistic diversity initiatives addresses the common obstacles Black students encounter when enrolled in a STEM program. Through several partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), we are able to provide students with critical mentorship with Black professionals in the STEM field and meaningful internship opportunities with clients, all funded by Primary Talent Partners. 

Additionally, to ensure each student in our program has every opportunity to graduate as possible, we work with our clients to award co-branded scholarships. We also provide stipends for housing, professional clothing, and more, so students are prepared for internships, especially in locations with an above-average cost of living. We’re thrilled to have our first four diversIT Scholar graduates from our diversIT programs graduating in Spring 2021, with dozens more on track to do the same. 

diversIT Recruiting 

Over the years, we’ve intentionally built and refined our recruiting platform to attract the top minority talent in the marketplace. By establishing unique, innovative sourcing channels, our team can sustain a highly qualified minority talent pool that simply can’t be found on job boards. 

These qualified candidates in our talent network are also provided consistent support throughout the hiring process to ensure the best possible start with our clients. Once placed, each candidate gets access to Primary Talent Partners’ EAP and healthcare benefits. 

diversIT Enrichment 

In an intentional effort to tackle the problem at its source, we launched our diversIT Enrichment program to increase STEM awareness and encourage consideration for a career in the field for K-12 students. 

For an example of this program at work in the community, in April of 2021, we partnered with Guidant Global and Dr. Natoshia Anderson to host a book reading and shoe giveaway event with ABS Student’s kindergarten class. By educating and equipping our youth, we hope to help catalyze a  more significant movement where traditionally underrepresented groups can finally enjoy the same STEM opportunities as their peers. 

About Primary Talent Partners: Primary Talent Partners is the premier partner for Fortune 1000 companies, providing today’s most skilled and diverse talent. We help solve the most difficult talent acquisition challenges and solve the most persistent hurdles to staffing

diverse candidates in IT, Engineering, Life Sciences, and Corporate Professional labor categories. To learn more, get in touch with us today.

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