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Looking for inclusive work! STEM grads are seeking out diverse employers


Diverse teams are making a big impact in STEM, with grads increasingly seeking out inclusive employers

Looking for a diverse, inclusive and progressive employer? Welcome to the club! Studies have shown that not only are companies with greater diversity goals more innovative and successful, but that they’re increasingly more likely to attract and retain the right staff. 

According to research out of the Australian Academy of technology & Engineering 39 per cent of graduates wouldn’t even apply for a job if they thought that the workplace was not inclusive. And it starts with a non-discriminatory recruitment process – making it accessible enough to encourage applicants who bring different skills and experience to business.

Diversity, essential

With inclusive teams proven to make smarter business decisions, solve problems faster and deliver better results – designing win-win solutions for everyday people is an added plus too. For example building train stations that are accessible for people with disabilities also benefit the elderly and people with children too. 

Diverse employer
Francesca advises students talk to prospective companies to find out if their commitment to diversity and inclusion is genuine.

“When we design inclusively for one part of the population, we can actually provide inclusivity for a lot more people,” says Dr Francesca Maclean, a consultant at engineering firm Arup Australia.

“If we don’t have a diverse engineering workforce, the world we shape won’t be inclusive of diverse perspectives and needs.”

Progressive companies like Arup are acknowledging that these hurdles often begin at school, but are working hard to level the playing field for their employees. For example, the company achieved a 50/50 gender balance in its 2019 graduate intake, while boosting its intake of graduates from culturally diverse backgrounds and implementing flexible working arrangements to accommodate parents.

Then there’s fellow engineering giants Aurecon who have partnered with Pride in Diversity for LGBTI inclusion and are developing strong relationships with the Indigenous community, including a cadetship program for Māori students. AECOM is aiming for a 40% female workforce by 2023 too.

A kaleidoscopic culture 

Diversity in Global tech businesses is also on the up. It’s something Aussie-founded global software company Atlassian takes very seriously, with their 2021 mission being to bring balance and belonging to all of their teams.

Celebrating difference – and hiring a STEM grads from loads of different backgrounds, abilities and genders – is helping the global tech giants smash business goals too.

Tina studied a computer science degree at the University of Melbourne, alongside a diploma in maths and statistics.

Junior Software Developer Tina Yu, stresses that when it comes to her role at Atlassian, it’s important to get input from a range of perspectives because people from all walks of life make up their customer base.

“Having people from different backgrounds is great when you’re trying to approach a problem,” she says. “We’ve got all types of people from different countries, different age groups and things like that.”

It’s something her colleague Cara Maritz agrees with too.  “Diversity is vital. It’s like the lifeblood of our department,” she says.

“Our customer base is really diverse, so we should be as well. I think we all complement each other and as such I think our outcomes are a higher quality as a result.”

Cara stresses that team diversity is really important to quality research.

Seek out support

Regardless of whether you’re searching for the dream graduate job or an internship that’ll help develop your skills, Francesca stresses students start by talking to prospective companies to find out if their commitment to diversity and inclusion is genuine.

Joining support networks, such as the Women in Engineering Group at Engineers Australia, and finding mentors in the industry can also go a long way in accessing career opportunities, overcoming challenges and meeting like-minded people.

There are also job sites like Work180 that list and rank employers on their inclusivity policies. “We don’t always have to be the ones driving change – other people can take it up as well,” says Francesca.

Finished your degree and looking for work? Sign up to our monthly Graduate Outcomes e-newsletter for career trends, employer tips and ways to up-skill. 


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