Alex Richens, Head of Communications, Edwin James Group
Today we are celebratingInternational Women’s Day across Edwin James Group and reflecting on why diversity is important in the workplace.
The welcome news is that whilst we are all acutely aware of the skills gap in engineering, the number of women in our sector has increased by 6% over the last eleven years according to recent research by EngineeringUK. But we still need to do more. As a community the engineering sector must continue to identify practices that recruit, retain, progress and record diversity in the workforce.
At the end of 2021, Edwin James Group released its first ESG report, highlighting our ambitions to develop the diversity of our workforce and our intention to bring together people from around our business to collaborate and drive this forward. Diversity is frequently talked about as an issue of equity and fairness, but there is another level of reasoning for encouraging diversity in engineering and that is innovation.
Almost every facet of our daily lives has, in some way, been influenced by engineering. Creative problem-solvers, engineers are responsible for improving the way we live and the world around us. Our engineers keep industry moving, working with some of the world’s leading companies to design, build and maintain their most valuable assets. But to succeed in providing the most elegant engineering solutions, businesses must focus on innovation as a priority, and innovation thrives in diverse teams.
The DLG Diversity and Inclusion in Engineering Survey Report 2015 by the Royal Academy of Engineering, found that one of the top three business imperatives driving diversity and inclusion for engineering organisations (cited by 83% of organisations) was “enhancing the capacity for innovation and creativity. In fact, bringing in people who have different views means you’re more likely to get fresh ideas, improving the creativity of your team and boosting its capacity for innovation (Chartered Management Institute, 2019) and a study done a year earlier by Boston Consulting Group found that organisations with more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenues due to innovation.
Closing the gap
But actions speak louder than words, and theoretical reasoning alone won’t tackle some of the systemic challenges we face to close the gap on diversity. One of the ways we’re providing creative solutions to address diversity is through our workforce planning strategy and learning & development programmes. A life-long programme of career development, our EJ Academy attracts, retains and progresses our people through personalised career pathways integrated with skills and management training. Diversity and innovation are encouraged and embedded at every level from apprenticeships to management through to coaching, mentoring and providing role models to knowledge-share and inspire.
Building diverse teams is not only the right thing to do in terms of equality – it’s essential to the future of engineering. To do that we need to re-engineer our approach to the skills gap and diversity.
Engineering UK, Women in Engineering report 2022 [online]
Royal Academy of Engineering (2015). Diversity and Inclusion in Engineering Survey Report 2015 [online]
Chartered Management Institute, 2019, Delivering Diversity research 2019 [online]
Boston Consulting Group, 2018, How Diverse Leadership Teams Boost Innovation, [online]