Amazon announces programme to further boost gender diversity and inclusion across UK business

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New ‘Amazon Amplify’ programme includes a series of initiatives, adding to existing broader company programmes

Last year, Amazon partnered with WISE (the campaign for gender balance in science, technology & engineering) to conduct research and help build a roadmap for companies across the UK to improve gender diversity, with the findings helping inform the new programme

WISE’s research, which polled over 1,000 women working in STEM, reveals a 10 per cent increase of women in STEM careers would lead to £3bn boost for UK business, with women in innovation earning up to £11,000 a year more than in other careers

Thursday 7 March 2019 – London – Amazon has today launched Amazon Amplify – a series of initiatives designed to further increase the number of women in technology and innovation roles across its UK business. This new programme builds on existing diversity-focused initiatives at the company, including programmes to ensure diverse interview panels and increase volumes of women applicants, affinity groups for women, LGBT+, BAME and disabled employees, and transgender guidelines for managers and employees to support transgender staff and their allies.

The Amazon Amplify programme aims to further ramp up the recruitment and retention of women employees; encourage more women to consider careers in technology and innovation; and help prevent some of the biggest barriers to career progression cited by women in STEM roles across different sectors. Amazon Amplify initiatives include:

Boosting the pipeline of future women innovations

  1. The Amazon Women in Innovation Bursary, providing funding of over £130,000 a year for up to 24 women students to fulfil their ambitions of a career in innovation and technology
  2. Amazon degree apprenticeship programme, enabling people of all ages and backgrounds to train as engineers and business leaders
  3. Opening Amazon’s doors and inspiriting future leaders with public tours and STEM workshops for children

Recruiting and retaining more women innovators

  1. New global candidate inclusive interview questions, which help find potential Amazonians who share our commitment to diversity
  2. New UK-wide interactive training programme to support employees with: building confidence and self-awareness, as well as displaying confidence to others; adapting to different environments; being an effective contributor, and managing internal and external stakeholders
  3. A new AWS (Amazon Web Services) Return to Work programme, providing individuals on a career break with the opportunity to return to full-time employment following robust onboarding and coaching sessions and support from a subject matter per coach

A commitment to diversity goals

  1. Becoming a signatory to the WISE Ten Steps Commitments.

“Diversity fosters greater innovation and helps raise the bar for customers, and having a diverse workforce is also just the right thing to do,” said Fiona McDonnell, Director, Consumer Retail, Amazon and chair of the cross-industry Women in Innovation Advisory Committee. “Our new Amazon Amplify plan aims to attract and retain the best and brightest talent in Britain, ensuring a positive environment in which they can thrive.”

Partnership with WISE

Last year, Amazon joined with WISE and launched a consultation to help increase the number of women in innovation roles across the UK. The consultation was designed to help understand the barriers to increasing diversity across industries, and help create a roadmap for companies to follow in improving gender diversity at all levels. As part of that effort, Amazon commissioned research from WISE and The Lord Ashcroft International Business School at Anglia Ruskin University. Over 1,000 women across the UK working in innovation from a variety of companies and sectors were polled by YouGov, along with over 200 women feeding directly into the consultation and 50 telling their stories in one-to-one interviews. The research is now available to help companies of all sizes develop their own plans to address gender diversity in their ranks.

Among other things, the research identified barriers and enablers to increasing the number of women working in the innovation economy across all industry sectors in the UK, and revealed that improving the ratio of women to men in STEM innovation by just 10 per cent has the potential to increase company revenues in that sector by over £3bn per annum.

Other key findings include:

  • Nine in 10 women innovators experienced some barriers to their innovation careers, with over a quarter (26 per cent) experiencing more barriers than enablers
  • Six in 10 (66 per cent) women working in the UK’s innovation economy have had to overcome challenges on their own to succeed in their careers, with just two in 10 (22 per cent) saying they had received support from their employers
  • The top three barriers women working in STEM careers across the UK identified were a lack of confidence (84 per cent), having to adapt to a male-dominated environment (75 per cent), and a lack of recognition from senior management (72 per cent)
  • However, more than half of all women working in STEM-careers said pursuing a career in innovation gave them a feeling of self-achievement (59 per cent), the opportunity to do exciting work (56 per cent) and set the foundations for positive career development (56 per cent)
  • The top three enablers to increasing the number of women working in STEM and innovation were personal determination and resilience (59 per cent), self-efficacy (44 per cent) and greater work-life balance (44 per cent).

“It’s concerning that lack of confidence came out as the biggest barrier faced by women working in innovation, but of course confidence develops as a result of support and encouragement,” said Helen Wollaston, Chief Executive, WISE. “The report recommends specific actions for employers and universities to boost the contribution of women to innovation. If they follow Amazon’s lead by taking a proactive approach to building an inclusive culture where women and men from all backgrounds are confident being themselves, it will pay dividends.”

From childhood to career, the report outlines a roadmap of recommendations that drive change by addressing barriers and improving the representation of women in innovation, including:

  • Childhood: Building the pipeline of the next generation of women innovators via outreach to parents as well as children, using language that resonates with young women from an early age, and creating more partnerships between business and existing outreach programmes that stimulate interest in innovation
  • College: Stimulating careers in innovation with tours of STEM-focused businesses, more business role models for students, internships and bursary programmes targeting women
  • Career: Flexible career pathways in technology and innovation through degree apprenticeships, return to work programmes, and reskilling programmes, as well as career development support through mentoring programmes, peer support and career development coaching.

The research was supported by a Women in Innovation Advisory Committee, made up of senior leaders from across industry.