STEM leaders need to do more to challenge recruitment bias within their own organisations to help the industry become more inclusive
In the annual STEM Returners Index, a survey of a nationally representative group of more than 750 STEM professionals on a career break who are attempting to return to work or who have recently returned to work, recruitment bias was revealed to be the main barrier preventing them from returning to work.
In the survey, 37% of participants said they experienced bias in the recruitment process due to their age, while 43% of people who identified as BME said they had experienced bias due to race or ethnicity.
Female engineers are more likely to be victims of recruitment bias, according to the survey – 27% of women said they feel they have personally experienced bias in recruitment processes due to their gender compared to 8% of men.
Natalie Desty, Director of STEM Returners, is urging recruiters across STEM to update their processes and challenge unconscious bias, so this highly skilled group of people can gain employment and the industry can become more diverse and inclusive.
She said: “There is a distinct lack of diversity and inclusion in STEM industries – that is not news. But there is a talented pool of professionals who are being locked out of roles, which is severely hindering efforts to be more inclusive.
“The pool of STEM Professionals attempting to return to industry is significantly more diverse than the average STEM organisation. Those attempting to return to work are 51% female and 38% from black and minority ethnic groups, compared to 10% female and 6% BME working in industry.
“Companies need to do more to update recruitment practices, challenge unconscious bias and actively seek out diversity, which is proven to increase business success.”