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Charlotta Carter On Closing the Diversity Gap in STEM

Date: 09 March 2016

Charlotta Carter 
CEO at GRI Technology Solutions

1. What do you do and what is your background in STEM?

I own a staffing and IT consulting organisation headquartered in California, with offices in Washington and Toronto. My background in STEM is that I am a computer science graduate from Louisiana and I’ve also worked at a number of companies, including IBM, Microsoft, Sun Microsystems.

I’ve also taken on a number of roles; I’ve been a developer, a tester and was a manager in development and technology spaces for a long time, but ultimately decided to start my own business in those exact same spaces.

2. Why do you believe in supporting diverse STEM talent?

Employing diverse STEM talent can give a business a broader view of growth potential within the company. The key value proposition for including diverse STEM talent is that they draw attention to products and services that will reach a broader market; and in order to have quality products and services that appeal to this wider market, you need those people as part of your infrastructure to make that happen successfully.

3. What is the biggest challenge in achieving STEM diversity?

I think that historically, the sector has been run by white men predominately and the decisions that they made were based on their own knowledge and don’t include a broader vision or view of the greater market that they serve.

There needs to be a mind change, a culture change, and an attitude change. I think this change is more visible now than in the past but it’s going to take a while for people to understand and value having a more diverse STEM organisation.

4. What inclusive hiring strategies do you see as key for closing the STEM diversity gap?

The first point – of which we have seen to be very successful - is making sure you really explain the value proposition of growing, adding and broadening a diverse environment. Once you get a value proposition on the table that’s clear, understood and accepted, then it’s a lot easier to get executive level buy-in. Once you have their buy-in, the resources required will fall in place, so a business will ultimately be able to achieve their goals.

So first create a value proposition, secure executive buy-in and then engage your resources for pipeline planning and inclusion.

5. What is your advice to diverse talent looking to join or progress within the STEM sector?

I think my key piece of advice is just to be persistent and to network a lot. I think networking has personally helped us in our space; we hold and attend a lot of networking events in the Silicon Valley and it’s helped to open a lot of doors.

So networking is key; build relationships within organisations and ultimately be sure to always do great work, and you’ll be recognised and respected for that.

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