By Lauren Richard
Lauren Richard is a Senior Business Analyst at IntelliBridge and a member of our Diversity, Inclusion, Equity & Belonging (DIEB) team.
IntelliBridge celebrated Black History Month with events centered on the Black experience in technology and the workplace. As part of IntelliBridge’s Black History Month events, guest speaker Karen Fray, Chief of Staff at the National Security Innovation Network, addressed the company about the power of education, sponsorship, and diversity in technology and the workplace.
Regarding education, Fray tied the lack of diversity in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) positions to education trends. Quoting statistics from the National Center for Science and Engineering, Fray connected the mere 1% growth in tech positions occupied by Black professionals between 2011 and 2021 to decreased interest in mathematical, computer science, and engineering education paths amongst Black students. From 2011 to 2020, Black students pursuing degrees in mathematics and computer science-related majors decreased from 9.8% to 8.3%.
While the STEM education trend seems to decline, Fray was enthusiastic about finding alternative paths to STEM careers for Black and minority students and employees. Her top alternatives were mentorship and sponsorship, which she defined as using one’s social capital to open doors and introduce previously unavailable or unknown opportunities. Fray noted that when hosting a panel of Senior Executive Service (SES) members during the 2022 Black Data Professionals Association gathering in Atlanta, all members agreed that sponsorship was the key contributor to their career growth and advancement.
Toward the end of Fray’s presentation, she shifted gears to the concept of singular focus, which she defined as being passionate and dedicated to a single idea or notion, and the importance of staying vigilant against national security threats. Fray mentioned that while we, as individuals, may not have a singular focus, we must never forget that our adversaries do, and that is ensuring that the national security of the United States fails.
Fray was reminded of the tangible threats to our nation after alleged Chinese spy balloons were spotted and shot down over U.S. sovereign territory in early February. “They are taking advantage of the fact that we [are] distracted by visual optics, and they are using our distractions against us,” Fray said, mentioning that our distractions allow our adversaries to encroach on the U.S.
Fray concluded that our strength as a country is our diversity. We can fuel our organizational pipeline with everything that makes us different and expand our understanding, awareness, and capabilities through diversity. When we do this, we gain a superpower that enables us to lead and operate as a team with trust and courage. Fray noted that while thinking about diversity, or lack thereof, every day was not required, questioning the status quo and holding each other accountable was.
About DIEB at IntelliBridge
We seek to promote a diverse culture with inclusive and equitable practices that provide our employees with an affirmed sense of belonging and collective care. We strive to empower each member of our organization to be their authentic and whole selves regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, or belief system. By promoting acceptance and authenticity we can leverage our unique voices and experiences to create a community of inclusion, integrity, and excellence. Overall, we are dedicated to fostering a work environment that is safe and accepting of each team member we serve.
DIEB hosts a heritage month presentation or recognition activity each quarter aimed to raise awareness of IntelliBridge’s diverse workforce and to help to foster inclusive programming to build a more connected culture.
IntelliBridge is a premier partner to homeland security, federal law enforcement, defense, and civilian agency customers who helps solve complex technology, intelligence, and mission support challenges. Headquartered in McLean, Virginia, with locations and staff nationwide, IntelliBridge makes its customers successful by delivering best-in-class solutions through a combination of deep domain expertise, advanced technology, and passion for the mission. IntelliBridge is a portfolio company of Enlightenment Capital. To learn more or join the team, visit www.intellibridge.us.