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By Carl Baxter

Managing Partner

Posted on: 6 August 2020

Diversity and inclusion in engineering and manufacturing

We can’t escape the fact that in engineering and manufacturing, we still have an enormous diversity and inclusion problem. And it’s hurting our businesses and capabilities.

A long way to go

The Manufacturer reports on gender and diversity disparity and says that “progress appears to be moving at a glacial pace.” In the UK we have the lowest proportion of female engineers than in any other European country. Just 6% of professional engineers come from black and ethnic minority backgrounds.

Yet, as the Royal Academy of Engineering’s report Increasing diversity and inclusion in engineering – a case study toolkit reveals: 25% of the primary school population come from ethnic minorities. They also account for 25% of engineering graduates. Yet only account for 6% of those employed as professional engineers. We are going wrong at the employment stage.

It’s a problem that’s hitting hard

Across the board of all sectors, a diverse workforce is a more productive one that boosts your bottom line. Yet in engineering and manufacturing, we could argue that failing to establish a diverse and inclusive workforce is hitting even harder.

Despite the dire impact of Covid-19 on the UK jobs market, the June 2020 KPMG and REC Report on Jobs still lists engineering as one of the few areas where the skills shortage is a problem. The skills crisis in engineering and manufacturing is intense. The government estimates that to plug the gaps, the sector needs 186,000 skilled recruits each year up to 2024. This is impossible if we don’t, as an industry, take steps to encourage a more diverse workforce.

Inclusivity mustn’t be forgotten

It’s one thing to ensure that we develop a deeper and more holistic approach to diversity to help realise the benefits of it that other sectors recognise and to close the skills gap. However, it is inclusivity that will ensure we sustain the benefits of a diverse workforce, and benefit from a broader background of professionals than we do currently.

But the industry isn’t doing too well here either. A survey by the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) revealed that a staggering 87% of UK engineering firms don’t have diversity initiatives in place for LGBT+ or ethnic minorities. Without thought-out approaches to diversity and inclusion, we’ll fail fast. As Dr Mark McBride-Wright of EqualEngineers says: “We will not get anywhere fast until the male-majority understand the need and importance of inclusion.”

How to achieve diversity and inclusion in engineering and manufacturing

Of course we need to start early, and maintain motivation. Young children upwards need to realise that careers in engineering and manufacturing are open and worthwhile to those who don’t conform to the straight white male stereotype.

Then there are a number of different approaches we can take to help propel diversity and inclusion:

  • Recruitment: At the recruitment stage, there needs to be a clear and followed equal opportunities policy. It’s vital to consider ways of attracting and retaining more diverse candidates. This will include looking at your recruitment strategies, advertising language and more. However, we would go a step further and say that it needs to be integral to your executive search approach. By ensuring you have a diverse leadership, you can promote a diverse and inclusive culture throughout your organisation.
  • Challenge bias: We all have unconscious bias and it can prevent us from getting the most out of recruitment and succession plans. By using Stanton Keller, you help to protect your business from the impact of unconscious bias within your recruitment and succession strategies, as an outside impartial support.
  • Role models: Role models and mentors from within minority groups is a way to aid inclusivity. Younger employees will be able to look up to these individuals and visualise themselves reaching the same levels.
  • Inclusion strategies: Ensure you have diversity and inclusion strategies formulated and in place within your organisation so that you’re doing more than paying lip service to the problem. Within this should be inclusive policies which fairly and supportively address the different needs of those within minority groups e.g. equal parental leave benefits for same sex couples.

Tackle the problem and benefit

Diversity and inclusion is a particularly large problem to tackle in engineering and manufacturing. However, the rewards are undoubtedly worth it. For help with your diverse talent search, specifically within your sector, please call on +44 (0) 203 983 3050.

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To find out more about how Stanton Keller have assisted global corporations with Diversity & Inclusion, Talent Mapping, Talent Pipelining and Executive Search then speak to an expert on +44 (0) 203 983 3050 or email search@stantonkeller.com.