Implement good practice initiatives to develop an inclusive training environment
Women represent a valuable pool of untapped talent, diverse skills and future success for your organisation. Once they have overcome all the barriers and joined your organisation, providing a welcoming and supportive environment will ensure they achieve their full potential and maximise your investment in them.
This checklist will help you to develop such an environment.
We provide a welcoming environment for all apprentices taking account of their individual needs before and throughout their training.
First impressions count.
- Provide advance information and a personal contact. Respond quickly and positively to queries.
- Offer the apprentice an opportunity to informally meet colleagues, trainers and visit the workplace in advance of the start can ensure that the apprentice turns up on the day.
- Deliver a comprehensive induction that covers not only practical aspects of the role but also any concerns with regard to confidence or isolation.
- Have your apprentice involved in the work environment before they start their training course, especially if they are out of the office for multiple-week periods.
- Provide opportunity for the apprentice to discuss how they are getting on and offer opportunities for them to raise concerns on a regular basis, for example end of day 1, end of week 1, weekly or every 4 weeks. Build a rapport so they are confident to raise issues, and ensure that you deal promptly with any concerns.
- Provide PPE that fits! How you look affects how you feel and PPE is available in all shapes and sizes.
- Discuss travel arrangements and any additional costs associated with working.
- Provide a contact person for the apprentice to go to with concerns with appropriate confidentiality agreement.
- Ensure there are posters and promotional materials in place in the training area and around the organisation showing positive role models of women in non-traditional roles.
We allocate support and guidance workers.
Identify any particular needs with each apprentice, for example, learning support, disabilities (particularly hidden), confidence issues, lack of prior learning.
Ensure that you and your training provider put support in place and review progress regularly. Needs can change over time in the workplace, or the classroom, or to both.
We monitor the workplace or training environment culture to ensure it is inclusive and supportive.
Consider the workplace from the point of view of the apprentice. Carry out an assessment and monitor it regularly – both practical aspects, and more subtle such as language, images, banter.
- Do you have female toilets in the work location (not up in the office area)?
- Are there suitable changing facilities and lockers for female apprentices? Are they near to the work place?
- Are staff aware what is acceptable in terms of language and humour (not because women are present but as a professional standard for ALL colleagues).
- Do you use gender neutral language in all areas of your organisation?
- Consider including consciousness raising activities around bullying and harassment as part of induction and ongoing – for all staff.
- Do work with your training provider or college to ensure that similar standards apply to any training location.
If you are an employer, ensure that a similar review takes place with your training provider/college, who are made aware of your expectations to ensure that standards are the same in ALL areas of an apprentices training.
We provide networking and mentoring opportunities.
Apprentices, particularly where they are in the minority, may feel isolated and may not be able to see how they will progress. It is important to have visible role models, provide networking opportunities, and offer a range of support initiatives.
You may already have a:
- Women’s engineering network.
- Apprentice network.
- Role model network
Do invite apprentices to join the networks as they will be mentored there and can also make great role models themselves.
Consider offering a mentoring or peer support scheme and encourage regular meetings of mentors and mentees so that they can exchange ideas on good practice and offer mutual support.
Your training provider, local FE college, or University may also have these in place and will be pleased to link with you. This is a good way for apprentices to meet role models and find out more about career progression.
We provide ongoing assessment procedures and review them for bias.
From the onset, work with the apprentice to develop a personal learning plan so that they can identify how they will progress and what will be expected of them. Assist them to set their own targets and support them to identify concerns and request help.
Do identify and include their aspirations, and include opportunity for them to feedback and self-analyse their progress.
- The learning plan should be assessed for bias in advance of use.
- The plan should include clear objectives and achievable, whilst challenging, targets. Targets should be SMART.
- Targets should be negotiated and agreed between the apprentice and the training supervisor.
- The plan should offer the apprentice opportunity to participate in the evaluation and reviews and feedback on their own progress.
- The plan should include discussion and targets relating to BOTH workplace AND training centre objectives.
- The learning plan should support confidence building and self-empowerment.
We understand that women may have different learning styles and have included this within our training and assessment procedures.
One size does not fit all and using a range of different learning styles and assessment methods will allow ALL participants to maximise their learning and participation.
- Monitor apprentices to check they are all progressing at the expected rate and achieving the milestones
- Make use of a range of assessment procedures to allow apprentices ways to show what they have achieved in a way that best suits them (verbal, written, log or diary, showing others)
- Monitor engagement and satisfaction alongside achievement
- Contextualise learning. Research shows that women learn better when theoretical principles and tasks are contextualised. Give them the bigger picture, explain why you are doing this and what the benefits and outcomes will be
- Make use of problem based learning through “real world” problems. This type of learning has proven to be particularly effective with women
- Consider ways to incorporate collaborative working – small discussion groups, team projects. Research indicates women prefer cooperative and collaborative ways of working, and employers often comment that this is an ability lacking in many trainees and employees
- Provide opportunity for self-assessment, reflection, and feedback.
The WISE People Like Me report and resources offer guidance on language, images and techniques to engage women with STEM education and training.
We enforce our equal opportunity policies and develop support systems for specific diversity issues.
Clear policies on equal opportunities, bullying and harassment should be in place and ALL staff members be trained in these. Regular monitoring should be in place.
- These policies are discussed as part of induction and all apprentices are made aware of how they can expect to be treated and what to do if they have concerns.
- Reinforce that they will be supported in the ‘unlikely’ event that there is a breach of policy.
- Remind all apprentices that they are expected to comply with these policies and help develop a culture of respect.
We acknowledge achievement.
Provide opportunity to acknowledge achievement.
This can be related to:
- meeting objectives on the learning plan,
- achieving formal qualifications,
- or simply completing an individual task to a good standard.
Reward improvement and progress, as well as final achievement.
Nominate your apprentices for external awards (the WISE, Semta, and ICE awards are a good place to start), champion them in newsletters, promotional materials, through the media. This will build confidence and self-esteem and can raise your organisations profile externally as an employer offering STEM opportunities for women.
Acknowledgement can be formal (pay rise, certificate), or
informal (verbal praise, letting others know it is a ‘job well done’). Informal praise can be just as well received
and motivating as a pay increase.