As newly released statistics illustrate the continuing imbalance of women in science and engineering professions, leaders of 20 of the UK’s science, technology, engineering and manufacturing companies have written to the Prime Minister, seeking his support for a new industry-led campaign to boost the retention and development of women employees.
Data published today by WISE show that, although the number of women engineering professionals has doubled since 2012, they continue to represent less than 10% of the workforce - the lowest proportion in Europe. To reach even a modest target of 30%, WISE calculates that the UK would need 1 million additional women in the science, technology and engineering workforce.
To address this challenge, 20 major UK companies have committed to a 10 point plan, based on actions which have proved to make the most difference within a science, technology or engineering environment. The ten steps have been developed by industry members and partners of the Royal Academy of Engineering and the WISE Campaign.
Trudy Norris-Grey, Chair of the WISE Campaign, said: “Our economy needs more women in science, technology and engineering to propel the competitiveness of UK industry on the world stage. To make a real difference, we need the commitment of industry at the highest level to ensure the working environment gives women the same opportunities to succeed as their male colleagues.
“I am delighted that 20 top companies have shown leadership in being the first to commit to implement the ten point plan. We hope that, with the Prime Minister’s support, many more companies will join them in the future.”
The campaign is already gaining momentum in the highways sector, as Highways Agency Chief Executive Graham Dalton has made a personal commitment to sign as well as to promote the Ten Steps within their supply chain.
Allan Cook, Chair of the Academy’s Diversity Leadership Group and Chairman of Atkins, commented: “UK industry needs to recruit, retain and inspire the best talent available to build and retain a competitive position in the STEM business sector. As long as women represent such a small proportion of our workforce, especially at senior levels, we know that we are missing out on a rich pool of talent. It is widely recognised that a diverse workforce offers real advantages in terms of increased innovation and effectiveness.”
“This is a business imperative as we look to maintain and enhance the UK’s competitive edge in our engineering sector which is such a vital part of our national economy.”
The 10 point plan is a pledge to:
* Understand the starting point and put plans in place to improve performance and monitor progress;
* Educate leaders and give them accountability for change;
* Change mind-sets by challenging bias and sexism;
* Be creative in job design;
* Make flexible working a reality for all;
* Increase transparency of opportunities for progression;
* Sponsor talented women, giving the same exposure as men and support to develop their career;
* Demonstrate to women that we want to retain them through career breaks and beyond;
* Treat the retention of women as we would any other issue affecting our core business;
* Share learning and good practice with our industry partners.
The 20 business signatories are:
Robin Southwell - President, Airbus Group UK; Uwe Krueger - Chief Executive, Atkins; Alan Belfield - Regional Director, Arup; Peter Rogers - Chief Executive, Babcock; Ian King - Chief Executive, BAE Systems; Christine Hodgson - Chairman, Cap Gemini; Bob Joyce - Director Product Creation and Delivery, Jaguar Land Rover; John Lazar - Chief Executive, Metaswitch; Grant Rumbles - Chief Executive, Mouchel Group; Steve Holliday - Chief Executive, National Grid; Mark Carne - Chief Executive, Network Rail;
Colin Lawther - Senior Vice President, Nissan; Steve Reffitt - Chief Operating Officer, Parsons Brinckerhoff; Ian Powell - Chairman, PWC; Leo Quinn - Chief Executive, Qinetiq; Ian Davis - Chairman, Rolls-Royce; Liv Garfield - Chief Executive, Severn Trent; Erik Bonino - Chairman, Shell UK Ltd; Victor Chavez - Chief Executive, Thales UK; John Neill - Chair and Group Chief Executive, Unipart.