Anne Richards CBE, Chief Investment Officer of Aberdeen Investment Management, will call for concerted action to develop a more diverse talent base in the engineering and technology sector in a lecture held jointly by the Royal Academy of Engineering and Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) in Edinburgh tonight.

Drawing on her experience as an engineer and business leader in the finance sector, Anne will tell her audience that a diverse talent pool is vital for innovation in an increasingly competitive market, where the strongest workforce will be the one that provides a range of views and has the ability to see new opportunities.

The lecture will consider the future of the financial technology – or ‘fintech’ – which is affecting investors and consumers in new ways. With the increased reach of big data, there are implications – both positive and negative – for society.  A diverse workforce is needed to create new perspectives on the ethical considerations of the technology.

Anne said: “There has undoubtedly been a lot of progress in reducing gender inequality in the workplace. We now have women leading of some of the world’s most successful companies, largest international organisations and most influential countries. But much more needs to be done. A range of challenges remain, from outright legal discrimination in some countries, to more subtle forms of unconscious structural biases in others that limit the ability of women to enter and progress in their careers at the same rate as men.

“Addressing this isn't just a matter of fundamental fairness but is one of business and economic competitiveness. Making better use of the skills, talents and education of the population will boost both individual organisations and the wider economy. This is particularly important within science and technology. There are hundreds of thousands of unfilled STEM-related posts: by encouraging more women to enter the profession everyone would benefit - the individuals themselves, the organisations they join, the economy at large – and even the taxman! It's in all our interests."

Anne’s comments are to be delivered in a lecture at the RSE’s headquarters, chaired by its President, astrophysicist Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell DBE FRS PRSE MRIA. The lecture is an annual event organised jointly with the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Professor Dame Ann Dowling OM DBE FREng FRS, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said: “Diversity brings a multitude of benefits to the innovation process, to business and to the wider economy. It is therefore especially fitting that we should hear from Anne on this important subject tonight, as a great engineering role model and leader.”

A chartered engineer, Anne Richards began her career as a Research Fellow at CERN before moving into investments in 1992, and is now recognised as a leading woman in business and finance. She is a member of the Board of Leaders of 2020 Women on Boards, a US organisation dedicated to increasing the proportion of women on corporate boards, and is the recipient of the 100 Women in Hedge Funds 2014 European Industry Leadership Award. In December 2014 Anne was awarded a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to financial services and the voluntary sector.

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:

Aaron Boardley at the Royal Academy of Engineering
T: 020 7766 0655
Aaron Boardley