While many UK engineering companies are already well engaged in driving better gender balance in the engineering profession, more work is needed in promoting ethnicity/race, sexual orientation and disability diversity, according to two new reports to be published by the Royal Academy of Engineering today (17 November). The recommendations will be discussed with representatives of many of the UK's best known engineering companies at a launch event at The Crystal, Royal Victoria Dock.

The reports published include:

  • Increasing diversity and inclusion in engineering a case study toolkit, provides ideas and guidance on building diversity in the engineering profession. It includes 17 case studies from across the engineering sector, providing inspiration and highlighting best practice. The report includes many examples where engineering companies are actively supporting diversity and inclusion through the development of staff networks, leaders and women; by reviewing their strategy and approaches; and measuring and monitoring the impact. Encouragingly, many organisations now address diversity and inclusion as a business imperative – to be addressed like any other area of business.
  • The Diversity and inclusion in engineering survey report 2015 provides a benchmark against which to measure future progress in improving diversity across the engineering sector. Jointly presented with findings from the Chartered Institution for Highways and Transportation’s survey of its corporate partners, it points to the need to focus on diversity in all its forms, as well as gender.

Of the companies surveyed, 96% anticipate difficulty in recruiting in the future and would like to broaden their recruitment pool; 83% see diversity as critical to enhancing their capacity for innovation and creativity and 76% see it as crucial to tackling the skills shortage.

While gender must continue to be a key area of focus, says the survey, the profession ought to do more to understand and address barriers that might inhibit other underrepresented groups from joining and remaining in the engineering profession. Extending the focus on diversity and inclusion activity beyond gender could be one way to further address the engineering skills shortage – the UK needs 1.8 million more engineers by 2020.

People from ethnic minorities make up 25% of the UK's primary school children, 25% of engineering graduates and 12% of the working age population but account for only around 6% of those in employed as professional engineers.

Allan Cook CBE FREng, Chairman of Atkins and Chair of the Academy’s Diversity Leadership Group, says: “Diversity work by engineering companies is having a positive impact, but there is still some way to go in developing truly inclusive workplaces. It is encouraging to see work being done to address barriers faced by lesbian and gay people, and it would be good to see more in relation to ethnic minorities. We also need to become smarter at recruiting and retaining disabled people, and people from any background with the prerequisite skills.”

Dr Nelson Ogunshakin OBE, Chief Executive of the Association for Consultancy and Engineering, chaired the working group that compiled the Academy’s new collection of case studies. He says: “Creating inclusive cultures across engineering companies is critical not only to engaging, attracting and retaining engineers of all ages, but also in driving innovation and creativity. Time and time again, it has been proven that greater diversity leads to increased innovation and creativity, and there is also a strong correlation with financial performance.”

Diversity and inclusion toolkit

Diversity and inclusion in engineering survey report 2015

Notes for editors

  1. Today's launch event is supported by the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE), Airbus, Arup, Atkins, BAE Systems, BP, Buro Happold, Card Geotechnics Ltd, CH2M, Cogent, Energy & Utility Skills, GlaxoSmithKline, IBM, IMI plc, Kapsch Traffic Com, Metaswitch, National Grid, Network Rail, Northumbrian Water, QinetiQ, Renishaw, Rolls-Royce plc, Selex ES, SEMTA, Siemens, the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) and Women in Science and Engineering (WISE).
  2. The Chartered Institution for Highways and Transportation also published their own toolkit in October to help employers in the highways and transportation sector recruit, retain and develop a diverse workforce. Routes to diversity and inclusion offers practical guidance, case studies and links to expert advice.
  3. The Academy's work with employers is directed through its Diversity Leadership Group (DLG), and sub-groups that examine specific aspects of inclusion, such as: attracting a wide range of young people to secure the future of the engineering workforce; creating a workforce culture that supports and encourages all to participate and progress; examining how recruitment from higher education can be improved by widening the scope of graduate searches.

    Through the DLG, the Academy brings together 40 employers and employer-led organisations for collaborative work and sharing of effective approaches to the inclusion challenges faced by the engineering sector.
  4. Royal Academy of Engineering. As the UK’s national academy for engineering, we bring together the most successful and talented engineers for a shared purpose: to advance and promote excellence in engineering. We provide analysis and policy support to promote the UK’s role as a great place to do business. We take a lead on engineering education and we invest in the UK’s world-class research base to underpin innovation. We work to improve public awareness and understanding of engineering. We are a national academy with a global outlook.

    We have four strategic challenges:
    - Make the UK the leading nation for engineering innovation
    - Address the engineering skills crisis
    - Position engineering at the heart of society
    - Lead the profession

For more information please contact:

Jane Sutton at the Royal Academy of Engineering
T: 020 7766 0636
Jane Sutton