What do we mean when we talk about diversity?
It’s one of those ‘buzzwords’ that people like to use when they’re not completely clear in what they’re saying; if something is ‘diverse’ it is apparently inherently more marketable, more accessible, more current. But outside of the declarations about commitments to diversity, equality and inclusion, what do people really mean when they talk about diversity? This is the question that prompted my own interest in the subject, and launched Cordant Engineering’s Women in Engineering project. It’s ubiquitous in job adverts, company website blurbs and corporate responsibility statements, but what does a commitment to diversity really look like?
Diversity in Engineering
For our project, the answer was simple. The Engineering industry is the definition of a male-dominated industry, with only 11% of professional engineering positions across the UK held by women. This fact is reflected by the make-up of our own internal recruitment team; as one division of a wider recruitment business with a female Managing Director and balanced gender demographics, we are almost exclusively men. And beyond any gender politics that you may or may not agree with, research shows that more diverse teams are more creative, more productive, and tend to demonstrate lower attrition rates. Furthermore, our clients recognise the importance of gender balance in their businesses; a number of our key partners have specific gender balance targets to meet, and want our help in meeting them. A commitment to gender equality in our internal recruitment, and the development of initiatives to support our clients in achieving the same, became a key part of our strategy.
How do we make a commitment to diversity?
Making a commitment to diversity is, in essence, as easy as saying a few words, or even writing an article. But it’s no use if words are all they are; what about the actions to back them up? Fortunately for my own project, Cordant Engineering belongs to the Cordant Group, a social business with a focus on improving society, person by person; it’s definitely easier to make changes with an ethos like that behind you. But I’m also keenly aware that for other businesses, changes to working practices can be difficult and costly to make. This was a key reason for beginning our project, as only by supporting change in our clients’ businesses can we hope to make any change in the wider industry.
‘Person by person’ perfectly describes the approach of our project, as we also aim to help women seeking work, developing their careers, or returning to work. Finally, our project addresses the skills gap in one further way, by going into schools and colleges to promote careers in engineering. By examining the problems faced by the engineering industry holistically, Cordant Engineering supports people in whatever sector, specialism or point of their career. We’re not solely focussing externally either; we’re directing the same level of analysis inwards to address the culture and behaviours of our own internal team, to ensure an inclusive environment for women to join the business.
Our diversity focus
So, to return to the original question, why does Cordant Engineering have a focus on women in engineering? The answer is simple: because it is the best way to support our candidates, our clients, and the UK engineering industry. Diverse teams are creative teams, and supporting the engineering industry to be at the forefront of innovation benefits the country as a whole. Our diversity project is our commitment to engineers, their workplaces, and those who are aspiring to become engineers, to help them to fulfil their potential.
If you are interested in hearing more about our project and the kinds of support we can provide, contact Project Coordinator, Helen Addis on 07980 755 729 or email email@example.com
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