Academy report: Action on diversity and inclusion in engineering now imperative

A report reviewing the first five years of the Royal Academy of Engineering’s ‘Diversity in Engineering Programme’ has found that the current engineering workforce is 92% male and 94% white, prompting a call to action to improve diversity and inclusion within the profession at all levels. The Academy also set out its vision of a future with wider attraction to the profession and an inclusive culture that welcomes and nurtures engineers from all backgrounds.

EngineeringUK estimates the current shortfall of engineers in the UK at 69,000 a year. The Academy’s new Diversity and Inclusion strategy aims to remove barriers to becoming an engineer and addresses the need to create more inclusive cultures that will attract, recruit and retain more female, ethnic minority, disabled, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, older and young people from all socio-economic backgrounds into engineering employment.

Philip Greenish, chief executive of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said: “The Academy recognises that we have a responsibility to lead action to address the engineering skills crisis and the Diversity Programme is a key component in this. Working with a large number of partners in the first phase of the programme has enabled us to put in place a strong platform, and much has been achieved.”

The Academy has successfully assisted employers and professional engineering institutions, and partnered with them to influence the landscape of the industry. It has also raised awareness, shared best practice and driven change across the profession by:

  • Setting up a Diversity Leadership Group, which has directly engaged with 50 employers and employer-led organisations and published a case study toolkit and benchmarking report to support increasing diversity and inclusion across engineering employment
  • Establishing an Engineering Diversity Concordat, which 32 organisations have signed in support of increasing diversity and inclusion across professional engineering institutions
  • Co-developing the industry-led 10 steps WISE framework with 49 companies now signed up to sustaining and progressing their female staff
  • Running a three-year Higher Education Employer Diversity Pilot Project with 13 employers and SEO London to broaden diversity of engagement with students
  • Supporting InterEngineering, a network to connect LGBT engineers, encourage dialogue, and promote diversity and inclusion

“We have learnt a lot during the last five years about the nature of the diversity and inclusion challenge and approaches that work,” added Dervilla Mitchell, incoming chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee. “Our focus going forward is to be more explicitly centred on what we can do well to galvanise the profession and increase inclusion. We will build on our successful activities and find ways to collaborate with others to help deliver the diversity and inclusion we aspire to across all fields of engineering.”