Women in Engineering: why diversity matters

Curtins CEO Rob Melling attended the Women in Engineering Leadership Conference at the Institute of Directors in October 2019. Here’s his  round-up of the event, and the thoughts he took away from it:

We often hear the comment, “The problem in our industry is that the women talent pipeline just isn’t there”. Well, it was at the “Women in Engineering Leadership Conference” held by Inclusive Boards at the IoD in London this week.

The conference comprised a number of panel debates; “Defining a successful engineering career”; “Barriers to leadership & solutions”; “Gender equality on boards – How and Why”, together with equally inspiring keynote speeches from Royal Academy of Engineering CEO Dr Hayaatun Sillem “Diversity in Engineering – what works and what next?”; Dr Sarah Peers’ “Pay gaps in Engineering Leadership” and Loraine Martins MBE “Transforming cultures in Engineering”.

It was great to see the number of delegates and speakers at the event who were included in the “100 Most Influential Women in Engineering” list recently published by the Financial Times.

So what did I take away from the conference (apart from being truly impressed with the breadth and depth of experience across the panellists and speakers, and the sheer amount of talent in the room)?

  • That the work we do at Curtins to engage with schools, pupils, teachers and parents to champion engineering as an exciting and rewarding career for ALL, is crucial. We must continue with this crusade for future generations.
  • That diverse (in every sense of the word) leadership teams really do make better, more successful businesses.
  • That whilst keynote leadership is crucial to developing inclusive cultures; effective line management at all levels across the business is equally important.
  • That we shouldn’t be afraid of targets (not quotas!) to drive diversity – just as we aren’t afraid of other targets (financial, quality, H&S) in our business. What gets measured gets done!
  • That we should ensure that at all stages of our recruitment process, we have a level playing field that is fair for all. It‘s the only way to ensure we recruit the very best talent.

I truly believe that the solutions we find for addressing gender balance in our personnel will help in providing better balance for minority groups throughout the entire industry.

By Rob Melling, CEO.