Diversity: A Valuable Engineering Commodity
One of the things I’ve observed in my travels as ASME president is that every culture and engineers at all levels of experience offer unique contributions to the engineer’s ability to evaluate, innovate and provide solutions to the world’s grand challenges. Whether it’s providing more efficient and sustainable energy or bringing clean water to an underdeveloped community or, as the population on earth rises past 7-billion, providing better solutions to meet increased food and water demands, transportation and biomedical breakthroughs — the engineers’ role could not be more critical.
A diverse team of engineers brings an amazing amount of brain power to the thought process of working out a problem, thinking it through and finding a solution. That’s why ASME is deeply committed to promoting diversity in the workplace — not only in terms of age, gender and ethnicity, but also in terms of different thinking and cognitive styles. At its heart, thought diversity looks beyond initial appearances. It doesn’t mind too much about one’s level of engineering experience or what part of the world you come from — it’s more about sharing perspectives and blending ideas and knowledge to bring about successful solutions to make the world a better place. And, in the process, companies want to harness the ability to achieve results and impact with the increasingly diverse constituencies they serve.
An article recently published in The Cleveland American (“New Engineering Formula: Diversity Equals Innovation”), cited an increased number of companies that are making a case for diversity in the workplace. Companies such as DuPont, 3M and Siemens are now making diversity an organizational imperative — “a core business strategy that’s implemented to generate new ideas, grow business units and drive innovation.”
ASME’s support of thought diversity is reflected in the 2012 position paper prepared by the ASME Diversity and Inclusion Committee urging U.S. policymakers “to strengthen and re-examine oversight of existing legislation and programs aimed specifically at broadening participation by underrepresented groups,” particularly in the STEM fields.
Having just celebrated Engineer’s Week 2013 (Feb. 17-23), there were many events and activities that provided opportunities for us to showcase the contributions of engineering in our daily lives. From young people who participated in Future City competitions to recognizing rising stars in the profession (through the New Faces of Engineering Awards), EWeek is a great time for engineers and engineering to take center stage.
Another event hosted by the National Engineer’s Week Foundation is the Global Marathon, which will be held March 6-8. The Marathon is a free, virtual event that will engage women (and their supporters) from all disciplines, levels of experience, interests, cultures and industries. The event encourages women in engineering and technology to connect through discussions locally and globally. The event will feature live Webcasts, a Chat Lounge and forums. This is a great way for women across the globe to share interests, thoughts, ideas and conversations on topics related to the engineering profession.
By leveraging the diversity of thought from women and other talented under-represented groups, our profession stands to benefit from the vast and diverse resources of enthusiastic and inspired thinkers who are needed to fuel the innovation necessary to be globally competitive.
ASME is helping to make the world a better place by serving its diverse global communities, encouraging inspired collaboration, knowledge sharing and skill development across all engineering disciplines to improve quality of life for all. I encourage you to welcome all at both the local section level, nationally and internationally. We all need to participate and be heard in these most exciting of times for our profession and our Society.
-Marc W. Goldsmith, ASME President