Representatives from across the engineering profession will gather in Parliament on Monday afternoon 29 February to discuss recommendations to help tackle homophobia in the industry.  The meeting is supported by the Royal Academy of Engineering and BP and convened by Alec Shelbrooke MP, who is Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to the Minister for Employment and was a professional engineer before entering Parliament.

Speakers will include Dr Mark McBride-Wright, Chair and Co-founder of industry network group InterEngineering, who will present recommendations for action proposed in a report he compiled with Mr Shelbrooke: Engineering Action: tackling homophobia in engineering. Published in December 2015, the report highlights surveys indicating that over half of LGBT engineers choose not to come out to colleagues at work because they fear the impact of homophobia on their careers.

Dr McBride-Wright says: “Progress and acceptance within the engineering workplace for those in the LGBT community is hindered by homophobic, biphobic and transphobic language. For example, using ‘gay’ as an expression denoting something negative – I have experienced this. It may be casual banter for some, but for me it resonates with childhood bullying and must be challenged and stopped.”

Ruth Hunt, CEO of Stonewall UK, says: “Although we are starting to see some positive changes, engineering is still lagging behind other sectors when it comes to LGBT inclusion. The recent InterEngineering report demonstrates how much work still needs to be done. As an organisation we know that people perform better when they can be themselves. Stonewall has been working with 28 engineering employers through our Diversity Champions programme to help equip staff and senior management with the tools needed to create inclusive working environments for all LGBT employees.”

Recommendations from Engineering action: tackling homophobia in engineering

  • Role model programmes in engineering companies to encourage the visibility of LGBT role models
  • Reverse mentoring as an inclusion tool in companies to help educate managers and executive teams
  • Unconscious bias training to help all employees inform their decision making
  • Supply chain requirements so that suppliers need to show what they are doing to improve inclusion in their organisations when tendering

Alec Shelbrooke MP says: “It came as a genuine surprise to me to read in an engineering journal that in this day and age such a high level of homophobia can exist in a professional, white collar sector. It is my ambition that over the coming years someone’s sexuality will not be stigmatised in the workplace, be it in the office or on site, and people will be able to speak freely about their family lives without fear of ridicule and bigotry. This is especially important when you consider the need to recruit almost a million engineers over the next decade if Britain is to remain a world leader.”

Philip Greenish CBE, Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Engineering, says: “Leaders of engineering companies and organisations have a clear responsibility to develop and instil internal cultures that are genuinely and consistently accepting, respecting and welcoming of difference. This is essential to enable us to reach the position where staff who may have been marginalised, such as those who are LGBT, can feel confident of being entirely themselves in a fully inclusive, welcoming and respectful environment."

Engineering action: tackling homophobia in engineering - download the report

Notes for editors

  1. 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