Prevent discrimination and value diversity
Addressing gender imbalance in the STEM industry - Exploristics Ltd
Exploristics is a global provider of state-of-the-art software and biostatistics services to the life sciences sector. The Belfast-based company offers key support to organisations involved in the clinical development of new healthcare breakthroughs with its statistical consultancy expertise and flagship simulation software, KerusCloud.
Aiden Flynn, founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Exploristics, explains how they have addressed gender imbalance and welcomed the business benefits of equality and diversity.
“Exploristics operates mainly within the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) industry. The STEM industry traditionally struggles to attract female workers. This shortage can create a gender imbalance resulting in a less diverse workforce.”
“Women pursuing a career in the STEM industry can frequently experience the challenge of balancing a fast-moving technical career with being the primary caregiver when they have a family. This situation often leads to highly skilled women dropping out of the workforce and finding it difficult to return to progress in their future careers. This pattern is typical in many leadership teams, in addition to the pay disparity women can experience in STEM careers – an imbalance similarly seen across many other industry sectors.”
Addressing gender imbalance to increase equality and diversity
“We have taken proactive steps to attract talented individuals with highly transferrable skills to work for a small company, like Exploristics, in the face of a nationwide STEM skills shortfall. These measures include attracting those working in industry and academia with competitive pay and a supportive environment for career progression alongside flexible working practices.”
“Flexible working has been important for attracting women to work for Exploristics. We are acutely aware of the need for caregivers, who are often but not always women, to be able to choose how and where they work to suit their needs. In return, the benefits to the company include having the ability to recruit and retain exceptional talent. This talent includes women who may have commenced work in a part-time role but go on to work full-time, moving into leadership roles to provide female role models for other talented and ambitious women in the company.”
“We strive to offer a diverse and inclusive working environment where all staff have an equal opportunity to learn, grow and achieve their full potential. This setting involves access to regular training both internally and externally to support ongoing career progression. We also offer management mentoring for women hoping to attain leadership roles to help to give them both role models, practical support, and the confidence to achieve.”
“At Exploristics, we want to enable and support everybody in caregiving roles irrespective of gender or sexuality. Therefore, flexible working is available to anyone within the organisation. We have also extended paternity leave to enable fathers to participate more fully in family life at that early stage and allow them to share caregiving responsibility. As a business, we acknowledge that it can be at that key stage when caregiving roles and career opportunities become at odds with one another.”
Support to deliver equality and diversity
“Other steps to improve equality and diversity includes partnering with Diversity Mark, WISE and the NI WISE Hub Pulsar. These organisations have helped provide a structured framework that has allowed us to benchmark ourselves with other companies and facilitate change through stepwise progression. These organisations have provided valuable support in bringing practical changes in our approach to creating a more diverse and equal workplace. We were delighted to achieve Diversity Mark’s Silver Charter Mark in March 2022. This award has driven improvements in achieving STEM diversity and marking our progress as a company. It has also helped us set new targets to improve diversity and inclusion.”
“Equality and diversity are important to Exploristics and play a role in our company’s success. We work in a fast-moving and highly competitive commercial sector. To grow as a business, we recognise the importance of a highly skilled workforce with in-depth technical knowledge and experience.”
“By focusing on equality and diversity, our company can draw on a wealth of different perspectives, experiences and ideas that evolve from bringing together a diverse team of talented people with a common goal of driving innovation.”
“We have seen more women applying for places within our graduate analytics academy, aiming for roles as statisticians, programmers and software developers. We have almost doubled our workforce and now have more women than men working for us at these levels. Many of our projects rely on the number of statisticians available, so this investment in people has allowed the company to take on more work and increased turnover and profitability.”
“Our female staff provide excellent role models for all women who stay in STEM to pursue a career. They show them that their contribution is valuable to the sector, and if they aim high, they can reap the rewards with a successful and satisfying career in STEM.”
Aiden’s top tips
- Be open to flexible working for all staff - only when caregiving is gender neutral can workplaces be gender neutral.
- Take the time to support women’s progression into management roles through mentoring and visible female role models in leadership.
- Give women a voice, listen to their views and celebrate their successes.