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Opportunities in Science and Healthcare 2020

The importance of diversity

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Dr Rashada Harry

Founder, Your Future, Your Ambition (YFYA)

Your Future, Your Ambition (YFYA) is a STEAM initiative that seeks to educate, inspire and encourage the next generation of UK STEM talent into industry.

Today, tomorrow and the future requires change at an accelerated rate across aspects of our lives.

The pandemic has shone a light on the science and healthcare industries. COVID-19 has called for there to be a rapid transformation of these sectors and has highlighted the significant role that diversity plays.

Diversity in science and healthcare goes far beyond language or geographical barriers but it requires an understanding and appreciation within a wider remit of protected characteristics, intersectionality and socio-economic disparities.

We need diverse workforces to serve diverse populations

In order to remain relevant and attract new talent to the industry workforces must prioritise a culture that encourages, supports and promotes inclusion across all diversity streams and at every level.

Such a culture of inclusion encourages diversity of thought, skills and experiences to not only be shared but is encouraged and appreciated at all times. In return, it affords a broadened understanding of perspectives in an ever-evolving industry.

The healthcare industry is often celebrated when it comes to levelling gender-based glass ceilings. However, diversity as it relates to race is still largely underrepresented for women from diverse ethnic backgrounds in healthcare leadership roles.

Being able to share insights and impart advice on how to enter the industry, success and failures is something that we can often take for granted. Millennials who will comprise 75% of the workforce by 2020 (Forbes) see mentoring as crucial to career success.

For the next generation it is vitally important to not only have access to these opportunities, but also access to role models from similar backgrounds who hold positions they can aspire to.

Instigating change

I believe challenging and dismantling the status quo is going to take both individual and collective action. To motivate future scientists, researchers and healthcare professionals, there is a need for more role models from diverse backgrounds to be acknowledged and celebrated; for the link between education and industry to be strengthened; and for individuals and organisations to take a stand to change processes the impinge upon an inclusive environment.

What can those within the industry do today?

  • Champion the value of having a workforce from varied backgrounds within your organisations.
  • Challenge leaders to listen, to learn and understand, and ultimately develop new ways of thinking to transform the landscape and pathways into the industry for the future.
  • Become a visible role model to young people and be transparent and honest about your career journey. 

The future is an exciting opportunity for everyone, but we can only get there together.

Your Future, Your Ambition aims to inspire young people (ages 7 to 23 years) from diverse backgrounds into STEAM-based careers.

YFYA events strengthen the link between education and the industry, giving young people insight into key skills and attributes STEAM companies are looking for. Join them virtually at their next event on Thursday 12th November 2020. Registration is free via their website

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