Leaders of 20 of the UK’s top science, technology, engineering and manufacturing companies have signed up to a 10 point plan aimed at boosting the retention and development of women employees.
They include Atkins chief executive Uwe Krueger, Arup regional director Alan Belfield, Mouchel chief executive Grant Rumbles and Parsons Brinckerhoff chief operating officer Steve Reffitt.
But there are no civils contractors on the list.
The 10 steps have been developed by industry members and partners of the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Women into Science and Engineering (WISE) campaign.
The action plan was launched this week to coincide with release of the latest data on women working in science, technology and engineering industries.
WISE’s figures show that while the percentage of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) occupations has increased slightly since the last count in 2012, they still make up just 13% of the workforce.
In professional engineering the number of women has doubled to 26,000 since 2012 but this still represents just 5.3% of all engineers.
Disturbingly WISE’s figures revel that there are 6,365 fewer female science and engineering technicians than in 2012, with the total number now 57,000. The number of male technicians has increased in the same period.
WISE campaign chair Trudy Norris-Grey said the statistics showed the need for commitment of industry at the “highest level” to ensure the working environment gives women the same opportunities to succeed as their male colleagues.
All 20 signatories have signed a letter to prime minister David Cameron asking for him to personally endorse the initiative.
“I am delighted that 20 top companies have shown leadership in being the first to commit to implement the 10 point plan,” said Norris-Grey. We hope that, with the prime minister’s support, many more companies will join them in the future.”
Royal Academy’s Diversity Leadership Group chairman and Atkins chairman Allan Cook added: “As long as women represent such a small proportion of our workforce, especially at senior levels, we know that we are missing out on a rich pool of talent.
“It is widely recognised that a diverse workforce offers real advantages in terms of increased innovation and effectiveness.
WISE said it and the Royal Academy of Engineering would work with the signatory companies to share experiences and examples of best practice. It will then contact all the signatories in 12 months’ time to ask about the impact of the initiative within their organisations.
Who signed up
- Robin Southwell president, Airbus Group UK
- Uwe Krueger chief executive, Atkins
- Alan Belfield regional director, Arup
- Peter Rogers chief executive, Babcock
- Ian King chief executive, BAE Systems
- Christine Hodgson chairman, Cap Gemini
- Bob Joyce director product creation and delivery, Jaguar Land Rover
- John Lazar chief executive, Metaswitch
- Grant Rumbles chief executive, Mouchel Group
- Steve Holliday chief executive, National Grid
- Mark Carne chief executive, Network RailColin Lawther senior vice president, Nissan
- Steve Reffitt chief operating Officer, Parsons Brinckerhoff
- Ian Powell chairman, PWC
- Leo Quinn chief executive, Qinetiq
- Ian Davis chairman, Rolls-Royce
- Liv Garfield chief Executive, Severn Trent
- Erik Bonino chairman, Shell UK
- Victor Chavez chief executive, Thales UK
- John Neill chair and group chief executive, Unipart
10 point plan
The 10 point plan is a pledge to:
- Understand the starting point
- Put plans in place to improve performance and monitor progress educate leaders and give them accountability for change
- Change mindsets by challenging bias and sexism
- Be creative in job design
- Make flexible working a reality for all
- Increase transparency of opportunities for progression
- Sponsor talented women, giving the same exposure as men and support to develop their career
- Demonstrate to women that companies who have signed up to the plan want to retain them through career breaks and beyond
- Treat the retention of women as we would any other issue affecting our core business
- Share learning and good practice with industry partners