Enriching the Mix to Expand our Diverse Talent Pipeline

June 2020
Topics: Inclusion, Human Resources, Human Capital Management, Professional Development
For MITRE, building a workforce that embraces people from diverse backgrounds is like other complex challenges we take on for our nation. Commitment and partnerships count.
Two female college students in a library studying

In everything we do, we build on past experience while welcoming innovative thinking that promotes better solutions. One good idea builds on another. The key to success rests with our people and our partnerships.

“We are committed, as an industry leader, to expand talent pipelines," says Stephanie Turner, MITRE vice president of inclusion, diversity, and social innovation. "To succeed, tomorrow’s engineers, mathematicians, scientists, and technology innovators need to know who we are, and we need to know them.

"Cultivating an inclusive work environment that embraces people’s differences and their unique talents fuels MITRE’s culture of innovation.”

And while there is still work to be done, efforts to grow that inclusive workforce have already paid off. In 2006, people of color made up 14 percent of MITRE’s workforce. By 2019, that number climbed to 23 percent.

As we look to the future, MITRE’s corporate strategy includes building strategic relationships that expand our talent pools for attraction, development, and retention efforts that enhance our brand, culture, and social impact.

Strengthening Outreach Through Strategic Partnerships

MITRE is a key partner in many organizations and efforts that support and advance African Americans in STEM, including Advancing Minorities’ Interest in Engineering (AMIE), a non-profit coalition that includes 15 historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) with accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

AMIE schools graduate 30 percent of the country’s African American engineers each year. MITRE has committed to partner with AMIE on research to better understand the key factors that enable engineering students to achieve career success.

That's only one example. Among others:

  • MITRE is nationally recognized as a Career Communications Group HBCU supporter for several years in a row.
  • In 2019, we formed a strategic partnership with Florida International University (FIU) to promote research and development, enhance economic growth in South Florida, and prepare students for jobs in key innovation areas.
  • We’ve been a corporate sponsor of the Be Everything You Are (BEYA) Experience, (formerly Black Engineer of the Year Awards), for more than 30 years. We employ many of the engineers the group has recognized for their professional excellence and expertise.

Dating as far back as the 1970s, MITRE worked with Howard University on a formal program that provided pathways to graduate studies for black engineers. That collaboration was a precursor to the National GEM Consortium, a nonprofit founded in 1976, that provides internships and financial support for Black, Native American, and Hispanic Americans pursuing master’s and doctoral degrees in STEM.

MITRE has been a GEM corporate sponsor for more than 14 years, and we've hired more than half of the 70 GEM fellows over that period.

Personal Connections Help Fill the Talent Pipeline

In addition to our programs and partnerships, MITRE employees play a significant role in inspiring young people from underserved communities to engage in STEM careers and recruiting them to our company.

“Underserved communities rarely get the level of support and resources they need to engage students from a STEM perspective,” says Adrienne Thomas-Loftin, MITRE’s manager of inclusion and diversity. “It’s a challenging and extremely competitive area for funds and resources.”

Michael Long, a cybersecurity engineer who co-chairs MITRE’s STEM Council, also acknowledges the need to address the lack of people diversity, especially in the cybersecurity field.

“There’s a lot of effort to break those barriers, and make sure there’s enough representation from people of color and women. That’s where our partnership with AMIE comes in."

When the COVID-19 crisis forced schools to close, MITRE employees learned that students in a school district not far from our McLean, Virginia, campus did not have access to computers that would make it easier for classes to continue from home. They arranged for MITRE to provide each with a Raspberry Pi minicomputer that would connect them with their classes.

Employees’ personal networks, including connections with the colleges they attended, offer more direct outreach opportunities to potential hires.

Justin Williams, a computer scientist in MITRE’s Center for Programs and Technology, stays closely connected with his alma mater, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, an HBCU consistently recognized for its undergraduate and graduate programs in engineering. One of the underclassmen Williams tutored at NCA&T took a job at MITRE post graduation.

Our year-old partnership with Florida International University, whose student body is almost 70 percent Hispanic, can generate even more new hires. The school’s degree offerings include a Bachelor of Science in the Internet of Things.

Augmenting existing recruitment channels from schools like MIT and Virginia Tech, with pipelines to schools like NCA&T, FIU, and the University of Texas at San Antonio (which is near one of MITRE’s main offices), increases the pool of potential candidates who will bring diverse perspectives to the company.

Our reputation as a technology innovator and a not-for-profit makes a difference, too, Williams says.

“We’re genuinely doing work that makes the world a safer place. It allows the work that we do to come from a genuine place. We’re continuing to innovate for the greater good.”

by Molly Manchenton

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