Westfield Corporation is a global business with shopping centres in some of the world’s leading cities. It employs scientists, engineers and technicians in areas ranging from design and construction to digital technology.
But Westfield also values its presence in local communities and has won awards for its social responsibility initiatives. Education is an important part of that. The company’s UK team wanted to work with local schools near its two London shopping centres. It wanted to help build teenagers’ interest in STEM subjects – and in particular to encourage girls to consider STEM careers.
But, as many businesses discover, finding the best way to engage with schools is not easy. Schools are busy and may not always respond as business hopes. Working out the right approach and making contact with the right person are the keys to success.
Westfield needed a plan, a partner to train its team and resources to show girls why they could be happy and successful working in STEM. It came to WISE for advice and help.
How WISE has helped…
In 2017 Westfield trained its team how to reach out to teenagers through WISE’s People Like Me (PLM)project, which aims to change young women’s perceptions of what it means to be a scientist, engineer or technician.
It made use of the PLM materials and role models, alongside additional material from the Stemettes organisation, to develop a comprehensive programme aimed at 13-14-year-old girls. This included a quiz to help the students see themselves as scientists and engineers and examples of role models with whom they could identify.
WISE also offered advice on how best to make contact with a school – and that often means finding the appropriate science teacher, rather than the headteacher. Westfield was then able to approach schools with confidence, offering a clear and detailed plan of how they would work with the students.
The results so far…
Westfield has successfully worked with eight local schools in just one year, engaging with nearly 200 girls. All members of its team had received the same training and were able to communicate consistent messages to the girls. The company is now looking to continue the work with additional schools and further cohorts of students.