Black History Month

Chris Staten: Learning and Connecting to Make Tech More Inclusive

This #BlackHistoryMonth, IBMers are standing together. We’ve asked some IBMers to share with us their thoughts on Black History Month, inclusion in the workplace, and their career journey. Today, we’re talking with Chris Staten, who is part of the Global Technology Services (GTS) Leadership Development Program. Chris shares how, in his quest to make tech more inclusive, he is always learning and connecting.

Tell us a little about yourself and what you do at IBM.

I am a Client Partner Associate within the GTS Leadership Development Program. I focus on resource optimization and project management in order to deliver quality service to our clients. These services help them focus on their core competencies.

Why did you choose IBM?

I chose IBM because of its commitment to narrowing the skills gap through retraining its employees and creating new pathways for nontraditional candidates who may be talented but lack exposure to opportunities.

What set you on the road to where you are now?

I started my career in education and program management, which is actually not that different from what I do now. I developed communication and people management skills as an educator. After business school, I knew I wanted to utilize those skills in technology by being client-facing.

What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your career, and how have you tackled them?

Technology is always changing, so staying up to speed on new innovations is a big challenge. It is tough to prioritize learning as you tackle daily operations. My simple tactics are working on learning first thing in the morning throughout the week and listening to edifying podcasts on the weekends.

STEM sectors receive a lot of criticism for a lack of diversity. What do you think is needed to affect change in the workplace?

The lack of diversity in STEM is well documented. I feel that companies must understand that hiring a chief diversity officer and launching business resource groups are not magic pills to boost diversity and inclusion. However, there must be a pervasive adoption of the understanding that diversity and inclusion are needed for sustainable business growth. Secondly, we must think about new ways on how to recruit, retain, and develop diverse talent.

What advice can you give allies who want to support diversity and inclusion in the workplace?

The best allies I have met have been people who recognize my uniqueness and respect my opinion. I would not be where I am today without allies who notice my gifts and are willing to not only mentor me but sponsor me as well.

What does Black History Month mean to you?

To my American History is Black History. Cultures from the African Diaspora have so much substance and culture that fuels pop culture. We are industrious people who continue to overcome marginalization. However, prominent Black luminaries remind us of what can be accomplished in the face of adversity.

This article originally appeared on the IBM Careers Blog

See more Black History Month profiles →