According to a recent article by Pew Research, “Black and Hispanic workers remain underrepresented in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) workforce compared with their share of all workers. Black workers comprise 11% of all employed adults, compared with 9% of those in STEM occupations.”
When I was studying electrical engineering at the FAMU-FSU (Florida A&M University and Florida State University) College of Engineering, I joined the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) as an undergraduate. NSBE provided me with the opportunity to flourish and surround myself with peers of similar backgrounds. NSBE exposed me to mentors that were successful in a field where Black professionals were underrepresented.
I quickly recognized how pivotal NSBE is in training future leaders and engineers to be successful, and I wanted to become more involved. I joined the local chapter and went on to hold leadership positions at both the regional and national levels. Being involved with NSBE changed the trajectory of my life. I am glad to have the opportunity to drive a transformational partnership between NSBE and Schneider Electric and create similar experiences and opportunities for professionals that are underrepresented in this field.
What is NSBE?
NSBE is one of the largest student-governed organizations based in the United States. Founded in 1975, NSBE supports and promotes the aspirations of pre-collegiate, collegiate and technical professionals in engineering and technology.
NSBE has more than 600 chapters and over 24,000 active members. Their mission is “to increase the number of culturally responsible Black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community.”
Schneider Electric and NSBE
At Schneider Electric, we are challenging ourselves to be a part of building a more equitable future. Several of our diversity initiatives focus on increasing the number of Black professionals in all positions of our workforce.
When I joined the company almost 3 years ago, I realized Schneider as an organization was not yet plugged into the full potential of what NSBE offered. We were an affiliate member for years, but to really create a transformational relationship we needed to invest and upgrade our membership level.
In 2021, Schneider Electric became a member of NSBE’s Board of Corporate Affiliates (BCA) thanks to the company’s support and a team of SE employees who stepped up to lead. We formed SExNSBE, our internal NSBE community, with the goal of increasing the attraction, recruitment, and retention of Black professionals at Schneider Electric through a company-funded multi-touch transformational partnership.
The partnership increases awareness of Schneider Electric throughout the NSBE community. It provides current employees opportunities for visibility, leadership, and professional development while fostering community engagement through volunteer activities. We welcome employees to join our SExNSBE Community and engage with top ‘internal’ talent totaling more than 240 members.
Our SExNSBE Employees Share Their Experiences
We asked our employees to share how they have been impacted by NSBE, their experience, and what NSBE means to them.
“As I reflect on the impact of NSBE, I think about the representation and network it provides for black engineers. When I was in school for engineering, I was 1 of 4 black students out of a class of 50+ people, and there was no one in my family or network that was in engineering. NSBE helped me see I was not alone in this field, that people who looked like me could succeed, and it gave me a network with resources to help me get through the challenges of engineering.”
– Stanley McGrady, Chief of Staff US
“We at Schneider Electric love participating in the NSBE convention because it gives these next generation of engineers exposure to various companies and a community of like-minded professionals.”
– Nnamdi Agbakwu, VP Global Operations
“The professional development and access to companies that did not directly come to my university and the networking opportunities available within the engineering community was motivating and inspirational.”
– Martin Renfro, Sales Excellence Business Partner, ASCO Power Technologies
“NSBE was very influential in my college career, and it was one of the first professional organizations that I engaged in. Attending the regional and national conferences afforded me the opportunity to collaborate with peers similar to me, and also see opportunities for the future with corporations where I never even dreamed engineers could work.”
– Anthony Sawyer, VP, US Digital Energy Offer Management North America Operations
“As an immigrant and as a child of immigrants, navigating college and entering the professional world was a bit difficult. Participating in NSBE in college provided me with mentors, networking opportunities, and resume and interview workshops. As a professional I’m happy that I now have the opportunity to give back and make that journey a little easier for other students.”
– Mary Olear, CS&Q Engineer – Web Giants
I am especially proud of how quickly our #SEGreatPeople have mobilized to begin the transformation of this partnership. What started as a concept in April with a small working group has developed into a fully-fledged organization.
Months later, we have had many successful events and have some great things planned for 2022 including:
- Participation in 5/6 of the NSBE Fall Regional Conferences
- Resume workshop with Tennessee State University
- Corporate mixer with Texas A&M University
- Region 3 Professionals Engineering Week
- Engineering Week activity with South East Raleigh HS (NSBE Jr)
- Annual Convention (NSBE48) in Anaheim, CA from March 23-26, 2022
- …and more!
If you will be attending future NSBE events virtually or in person, be sure to stop by and say hi to our #SEGreatPeople.
Get Involved with NSBE
If you are inspired by these stories and the NSBE mission, I encourage you to get involved! NSBE invites all individuals to join who are committed to increasing the number of Black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community.
Great People make Schneider Electric a Great Company.
Join Us where you have a meaningful purpose in an inclusive and empowering environment.