From education to employment

Response to Open Letter on Racial Justice in Higher Education

Our CEO, Dr Hayaatun Sillem CBE, responds to the open letter on racial justice in higher education from ethnic minority staff in the UK (published6 July 2020 in Times Higher Education).

I write in response to the Open Letter on Racial Justice in Higher Education. The Academy is strongly committed to advancing diversity and inclusion in engineering and welcomes this contribution to the effort to accelerate the pace of change. It is clear that our community has not made sufficient progress thus far on diversity and inclusion in general, and on racial justice specifically, and we are determined to play our part in changing that.

The Academy’s own research has demonstrated that black and minority ethnic engineering graduates are less likely to progress into engineering roles and that black and minority ethnic engineers have a less favourable experience in the workplace. As part of our response to these findings, we created the Graduate Engineering Engagement Programme, which aims to improve the transition of diverse talent into engineering roles. Of the 800 students who have participated in the programme to date, over 90% are black or from minority ethnic groups. Through our Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Group we also work with engineering employers to share best practice and co-create practical tools to promote inclusion in the workplace, including for black and minority ethnic engineers. Other aspects of our diversity and inclusion programmes are targeted at supporting professional engineering bodies and addressing our internal performance, which includes our grant making activity and our Fellowship processes.

These activities and our wider response are developed in partnership with others with relevant expertise and experience. In particular, we have benefitted from our longstanding relationship with the Association for Black and Minority Ethnic Engineers UK (AfBE-UK) who have led the way in raising awareness and catalysing action on this issue within the engineering community.

We already publish data and information about our actions to advance all aspects of diversity on our website and later this year will be publishing a report on the diversity data relating to our Fellowship, awardees, events and staff as part of our efforts to maximise transparency and in line with the recommendations in the Letter.

We will continue to seek out all available routes to eliminating racial injustice, bias and prejudice within our own activities and across the wider engineering community and as we do so will be sure to consider the recommendations made in the Open Letter. We stand in solidarity against racism and injustice as we strive for greater diversity in the engineering profession and to advance engineering’s contribution to an inclusive economy that truly works for everyone.

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