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Academy calls on engineering business leaders to use data to drive culture change

The Royal Academy of Engineering called on engineering organisations to increase their use of data to measure and improve diversity and inclusion (D&I) in the profession at a ‘Data Driven Culture Change’ event yesterday. Attendees also debated the state of D&I in engineering organisations.

Attendees at the event

The benefits of a data driven approach for both large and small companies were demonstrated by presentations from multinational IBM and Customem, a start-up focusing on capturing hazardous chemicals from water. Gary Kildare, Chief HR Officer of IBM Corporation Europe, highlighted the potential of data and artificial intelligence to help improve and extend the diversity of workforces. Customem’s CEO and co-founder Henrik Hagemann outlined his philosophy of building a small team with specialist skills whilst consciously looking for maximum diversity.

l-r: event chair Natasha Broomfield-Reid, Gary Kildare from IBM, Dervilla Mitchell from Arup, and Henrik Hagemann from CustoMem

At the event, attendees from across the engineering profession discussed the initial findings from a survey conducted in the summer of 2018 to shed light on the state of D&I in engineering employment – the full report will be published next year.

The survey found differences in the perceptions, actions and experiences of engineering employers of different sizes in relation to D&I, and that smaller organisations typically face challenges that limit their capacity to promote D&I. The Academy plans to address this by working with start-ups and SME leaders from the Academy’s Enterprise Hub to develop guidance specific to smaller organisations.

Many engineering employers, especially smaller organisations, thought it unlikely that increasing D&I in their business would reduce or eliminate skills shortages, but they did identify other benefits including improving company image or reputation; improving compliance with legislation; and increasing collaboration.

Previous research, ‘Creating cultures where all engineers thrive‘ found that inclusion benefits the performance of individual engineers, with 80% reporting increased motivation, 68% increased performance and 52% increased commitment to their organisations.

The Academy launched guidance at the event to give leaders, managers and people managers across engineering the tools to use existing and new data as a powerful lever for change.

John McCollum, Engineering Director a BAE Systems and member of the Academy’s Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Group Steering Group, said:

“Measurement of diversity and inclusion is crucial to effect change across the engineering profession. The profession needs to become better at measuring diversity and inclusion to target interventions and actions, and make meaningful progress.”

Measures for D&I in engineering were developed by the engineering companies working with the Academy to provide a framework to drive change across organisations, from large corporations to SMEs, and irrespective of whether they are beginning their D&I journey or progressing towards maturity or beyond. The measures are validated by the Employers Network of Equality and Inclusion (ENEI) and tested with both large corporate and SME organisations to confirm relevance and proportionality.

The ‘D&I in engineering measurement framework’ can be downloaded here

Notes for Editors

  1. Royal Academy of Engineering. As the UK’s national academy for engineering and technology, we bring together the most successful and talented engineers from academia and business – our Fellows – to advance and promote excellence in engineering for the benefit of society.

We harness their experience and expertise to provide independent advice to government, to deliver programmes that help exceptional engineering researchers and innovators realise their potential, to engage the public with engineering and to provide leadership for the profession.

We have three strategic priorities:

  • Make the UK the leading nation for engineering innovation and businesses
  • Address the engineering skills and diversity challenge
  • Position engineering at the heart of society

We bring together engineers, policy makers, entrepreneurs, business leaders, academics, educators and the public in pursuit of these goals.

Engineering is a global profession, so we work with partners across the world to advance engineering’s contribution to society on an international, as well as a national scale.

For more information please contact: Victoria Runcie at the Royal Academy of Engineering Tel. 020 7766 0620; email: [email protected]

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