The Royal Academy of Engineering has a vision of an inclusive engineering profession that inspires, attracts and retains people from diverse backgrounds and reflects UK society.

It aims to achieve this by leading the engineering profession to challenge the status quo, stimulate cultural change and improve diversity and inclusion (D&I) through delivery of the following three strategic aims:

  • Understand barriers to increasing D&I in engineering employment and professional registration
  • Engage in partnerships to remove barriers to increasing D&I
  • Deliver impact through effective communications

Within the D&I context, it is essential to not only focus on increasing the representation of engineers from diverse backgrounds, but also on developing inclusive cultures that support the recruitment, retention and progression of engineers from all backgrounds. The Academy’s specific focus on inclusion supports the profession in developing cultures where people from diverse backgrounds can thrive.

There is a growing body of evidence outside engineering that when employees feel included, they have higher motivation and performance. Engineers also experience these benefits of inclusion as does the profession itself. Supporting the inclusion of engineers from different backgrounds will help minimise skills gaps and support development of innovation and creativity across UK engineering in support of UK plc and the prosperity of individual engineers.

 

Definition of inclusion

The Academy definition of inclusion is:

‘The extent to which an engineer feels valued for who they are (their personal and professional background, experience and skills) and the extent to which they feel they belong/‘fit’ in the engineering profession and their organisation'.

 

Benefits of inclusion in engineering

Feedback from the 7,000 engineers (of which 83% were male and 17% female) whose voices inform the Creating cultures where all engineers thrive report on culture and inclusion in engineering reported the following benefits of inclusion in engineering.

  • Inclusion benefits the performance of individual engineers with 80% reporting increased motivation, 68% increased performance and 52% increased commitment to their organisation
  • Inclusion benefits organisational performance in that the more included engineers feel, the more likely they are to understand business priorities, be confident about speaking up on improvements, mistakes or safety concerns, and see a future for themselves in engineering

 

Indicators of inclusion

The Creating cultures where all engineers thrive report identifies the following seven indicators on inclusion in engineering. These indicate what engineers look for as signs of an inclusive culture:

  1. Openness - the extent to which engineers feel able to be open about who they are and about their life outside work, and confident to speak up on inappropriate behaviour towards themselves or other people, or about mistakes or safety risks.
  2. Respect - the extent to which engineers feel treated with respect by managers, leaders and colleagues – and do not feel that assumptions are made about them because of their gender, ethnicity or any other difference.
  3. Relationships - how engineers relate to each other, and the extent to which relationships are friendly, collaborative, and free of offensive banter, bullying or harassment.
  4. Career - the extent to which engineers feel supported in their careers, by their manager and by the fair implementation of talent management processes such as promotion.
  5. Flexibility - the extent to which engineers have opportunities to work flexibly, without it being a barrier to career progression.
  6. Leadership - the extent to which engineers are convinced by their managers’ commitment and action on diversity and inclusion.
  7. Diversity - 50% of all engineers put ‘A diverse workforce at all levels’ as evidence of inclusion