We need to act with purpose: One 3Mer’s passion is shaping 3M’s approach to addressing equity in STEM
Nov 22, 2021

During his 33-year tenure at 3M, Global Diversity and Inclusion Strategist Scott Morris has never been more excited to be a part of a company and movement that is helping affect people’s lives. It’s that excitement, mixed with his incredible passion and leadership, that has led to some of 3M’s biggest equitable actions in the past year.  

“This is a defining time for all companies and 3M is no different in that respect,” Scott said. This is an opportunity for us to shape what we’re going to be for the next 100 years.” 

In the first part of 2021, 3M announced partnerships with both North Carolina Agriculture & Technical State University (N.C. A&T) and UNCF (United Negro College Fund) as part of 3M’s commitment to investing $50 million to address racial opportunity gaps in STEM and skilled trades education. 3M gifted $2.1 million to N.C. A&T in support of their Equity and Education Initiative (E²I) – a new four-year program aimed at increasing the number of African American college graduates securing careers in fields critical to the nation’s workforce. 3M also created the UNCF 3M Science. Applied to Life.TM Scholarship Program – a multi-year, need-based scholarship program to support students from St. Paul, Minnesota, as they embark on STEM-related studies at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) or at Florida International University.  

Creating this movement required “purpose, passion and collaboration,” Scott said. “I believe with all my heart that our DE&I strategy and having a CEO that is so passionate about driving equity inside and outside of our company – not checking boxes – was essential in making this proposal a reality.” 

Scott knew such a proposal had never been taken up by 3M and although leadership was open to the idea, he had some work to do.  

“There were so many reasons to end with ‘no, we love the proposal, but we cannot commit to it.’” Scott said. My challenge to our key stakeholders was, ‘why would we say yes?’ As we started to explore ‘why say yes,’ our mindset changed, and the proposal was transformed and approved.”  

According to UNCF, 25% of STEM degrees earned by African American graduates are earned at HBCUs. Eight HBCUs were among the top 20 institutions to award the most science and engineering bachelor’s degrees to Black graduates from 2008 to 2012. These were just a few reasons that helped Scott and 3M leadership say yes to the N.C. A&T and UNCF collaborations.   

In the announcement of this partnership, N.C. A&T’s Chancellor Harold L. Martin Sr. said the school is committed to producing graduates who are fully prepared to address the challenges and economic needs of our world. “This contribution from 3M is not only an investment in the education of our students, but also a statement about the value of a diverse workforce.”   

From a personal level, this is a huge milestone in Scott’s journey of being a mentor. Scott has also committed much of his time to mentoring students at N.C. A&T over the years and serves as a member of the Deese College Board.   

“I continue to mentor 25 or 30 students who have graduated,” Scott said. “To work with these young adults and help them develop a deep understanding of their purpose is so important.  Once they connect their purpose to those things that drive their passions, the borders come down relative to ‘what can be, what will be.’”  

This effort would not have been possible without the work of former 3Mers, Gene Washington and Jimmiee Gaulden, who started 3M’s HBCU relationship decades ago and helped form the company’s relationship with N.C. A&T’s Willie A. Deese College. These two innovative thinkers inspired Scott to not only invest his head and heart in his personal endeavors with HBCUs, but also helped shape the new 3M initiatives that aim to improve representation of Black/African American and Hispanic/Latino populations in STEM and business careers.  

“I really invested a lot of my time trying to cultivate the relationship at N.C. A&T, as well as other institutions, and really focus on how we can improve the representation, and frankly compete differently for talent that’s out there,” said Scott. 

For more details about what 3M is doing to create greater equity in our workplaces, communities and business practices, visit 3M.com/equity.

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