GE recently announced their corporate goals of having 20,000 women in STEM roles by 2020 which would require them to hire 5,000 women into STEM positions and achieve a 50:50 representation for all technical entry-level programs over the next few years. With GE being my first employer, the announcement as you might imagine stood out for me. Many companies who care deeply about cultivating the STEM pipeline have announced their own workforce diversity efforts. I was curious how GE’s proclamation and #BalanceTheEquation campaign compared.

First, GE’s new white paper asserts that doubling down on the gender-equal playing field will widen their pool of potential hires and could lead to significant productivity and performance gains. The research points to data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), The World Economic Forum, and McKinsey – each highlighting how increased female participation in the labor force correlates to economic strength.  

Second, in order to support this announcement, GE recently launched a STEM role model campaign complete with YouTube video called “What If Millie Dresselhaus, Female Scientist, Was Treated Like A Celebrity”. The ad’s details play on pop culture by featuring a nursery with a boom in babies named Millie, a gray-haired emoji available on our smart phones, a boon of Millie imitators and Halloween costumes, and even a “One in a Millie” headline in a superstar news magazine.

Third, the company has put out a multi-point action plan to achieve gender parity and address these ambitious goals. These strategies for both recruiting and retaining talent include the following:

  • Shift the focus of university recruitment efforts to institutions that have a balanced gender mix
  • Develop robust career advancement and leadership development opportunities for diverse employees
  • Implement employee programs and benefits that foster an inclusive culture and environment

I think GE’s #BalanceTheEquation campaign is well conceived. At Couragion, we too strongly understand and advocate for the importance of role models and applaud the aspirational efforts. With dedication and focus, I hope they will attract more women into the STEM fields, nurture more STEM role models like Millie who will inspire future generations, and drive enhanced innovation by keeping women productive and fulfilled within their careers – all exemplifying something Couragion strongly champions. Women in STEM give rise to more women in STEM.

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