Improving gender diversity – recruiting, retaining and promoting women – is a business imperative for the whole of the science, technology and engineering (STEM) industry.
Some companies have been tackling the problem for years and are further along the path than others. Some are relatively new to it and may feel daunted by the challenge.
But for all it is work in progress – and equally all will recognise that they have manyissues in common. Businesses can therefore benefit from sharing their experiences and ideas and from learning from each other.
WISE is helping to facilitate that learning and sharing through the Ten Steps programme. The invitation to take part is open to all businesses in the STEM sector.
Why is this important?
The shortage of women in STEM is a problem across industry. More than that, it reflects – and is reflected by – attitudes across society. Awareness of the problem is rising and many companies now realise that they cannot afford to ignore the potential of women in the workplace. Employers are also faced by a growing legal framework, including, most recently, the requirement to publish data on the gender pay gap.
But organisations don’t always benefit from being on the defensive or in competition with each other when it comes to the progression of women. There is much more to be said for collaboration – for accepting that this is a universal problem that requires imaginative solutions, for learning from others what works best, foropening up with tips and ideas, forlistening and asking questions. No-one has all the answers, but everyone has something to share.
What are organisations doing?
- Over 50 companies have signed up to the Ten Steps programme and many have completed the Ten Steps diagnostic to find out what they are doing well, where they need to improve and how they stand in relation to others.
- Organisations are attending WISE knowledge-sharing events to discuss their experiences and learn from others’ good practice. They are sharing their stories, looking at what’s having the most impactand picking up new ideas. Many say they value the chance to talk openly to others.
- Some say they are learning from others in specific areas such as data gathering to measure progress. Others are encouraged to consider whether more controversial activity – such as women-only programmes – might be right for them. Many are realising the need for training in areas such as tackling unconscious bias and improving recruitment processes.