“Delivering a better world begins with inclusivity,” said Jason Yaley, Parsons’ chief communications officer and executive co-sponsor of the company’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council. “Creating the future is only possible if we bring together diverse backgrounds, ideas, voices, and talents to bear on our collective success.” Last month, employees from across Parsons logged into the 11th Annual Out in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (oSTEM) Conference to connect with college students and young professionals across the United States who are passionately pursuing their dreams of a career in STEM.
oSTEM, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit professional association for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning/queer (LGBTQ+) people in the STEM community. The organization has more than 100 student chapters at colleges, universities, and professional chapters in cities across the United States and abroad. Like Parsons, the organization is focused on building a world where LGBTQ+ people in the STEM community are empowered to achieve success in a safe and supportive environment that celebrates their diversity and unique contributions. The oSTEM Annual Conference is a space for LGBTQ+ students and professionals in STEM fields to share their experiences and learn from each other. Programs range from safe spaces to talk about queer issues to discussions on the research conducted by oSTEM members, opportunities to network and advance careers, and a Hackathon that we sponsored which included enthusiastic students and mentors with skills in software development who are interested in using technology and engineering to solve problems for the queer community. “Inclusivity means appreciating and embracing the whole person,” said Yaley. “As a company, we are investing in the personal, academic, and professional success of our LGBTQ+ community and fostering an environment that nurtures innovation, curiosity, leadership, and advocacy.”
Parsons was recognized by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2020 and 2021 Corporate Equality Index (CEI) for active support and inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community. The CEI is the nation’s foremost benchmarking survey and reports on corporate policies and practices related to LGBTQ+ workplace equality. The company is a staunch supporter of LGBTQ+ rights and is committed to honoring each employee’s unique voice and empowering them to be their authentic, LGBTQ+ selves at work. Especially exciting at this year’s oSTEM was the Parsons-sponsored Hackathon, which took over Halloween week and featured costumed participants. The event is comprised of small student-led teams that build an app, website, game, or other technology to solve a challenge for the queer community. Teams are formed before the main conference and work together to prototype their idea. At the end of the sessions, teams demo their solution to a panel of judges, including a cyber and software leader from our team, and winners are selected. “Our teammates come from everywhere,” said Yaley. “Diversity of thought, background, and personal uniqueness drive our collective strength and continue to yield innovative solutions that solve our customer’s challenges and reinforce our commitment to deliver a better world.”