There has been much written recently regarding the need for gender diversity in senior roles and the same is being said for engineering at all levels and although I am the first to acknowledge there is a problem in both these areas, I am totally against positive discrimination in favour of women. I think this would be counterproductive and cause disharmony in the work force. It is imperative that individuals whatever their gender should forge a career based on merit and being the ‘right person for the job’.
So how do we address the issue that British business is not utilising to the fullest extent 50% of the population? There has to be a long term plan backed by Government, starting in the education system and followed through to business which addresses a number of key issues. Firstly, we need to encourage all young people to set achievement goals regardless of gender and whilst doing this also stop compartmentalising different jobs as male and female. Career options should be clearly described to young people depending on their talents and those youngsters who enjoy the STEM subjects, but also enjoy the creative subjects are well placed to consider a career in engineering regardless of their gender. Other bright youngsters who do not want to follow the STEM route should be able to see a clear path, with role models to follow covering all the main management areas such as Marketing/Design/Sales or Finance. Those in the education sector also need to spend less time looking at league tables and more time on ensuring that young people are leaving school/university with qualifications that will make them attractive to business and in areas where there are jobs.
The next step is for British business to amend their culture to ensure that they offer a clear career path for all, which supports career breaks for starting a family and positively encourages talented female employees to return to the work place where there should be a culture of support. Being a working Mother has additional pressures which cannot be avoided, not least the need to have flexibility when children are not in school and this needs to cover planned time as well as illness. This can be done via flexitime and the ability to take a number of days as unpaid leave as well as home working. I would never propose that someone works at home with their children present without a dedicated child carer, but it does help with organising children to be delivered and collected from holiday clubs or to play dates. All these flexible benefits would have to be provided to the entire workforce not just parents, but a flexible working environment where individuals feel supported increases productivity, and a committed and loyal workforce.
Capital International Staffing Ltd