Having a variety of people from different backgrounds, cultures and approaches can, and does, enhance the working environment – whether that’s working remotely, in the office, or on the assembly line. At Leonardo, we strongly believe that the more diverse the range of employees, the richer the innovation. Such a workplace fosters mutual respect amongst colleagues and allows each individual to bring their whole self to work and perform at their best. A culture of inclusion creates an environment for greater collaboration, innovation and opportunities to develop us as an organisation.
According to the 2021 Women Engineering Society (WES) report, only 14.5% of engineers in the UK are women. This is not enough. Through events like AeroWomen – which was initiated by Leonardo’s female trainees last year – we hope to address the low numbers of female engineers this by bringing together a cross-generational group of women who already work or aspire to work in the aerospace sector.
Inclusion and diversity (I&D) really matters and it is clear that there is plenty for our industry to do to facilitate and support it. Individually and collectively, we must play our roles effectively and influentially, strengthening the network of existing and future female engineers, while identifying ways of increasing diversity in early careers candidates, as well as those returning to work. We know that we have the opportunity to influence more females to explore careers in STEM right across generations, ensuring we are in a position to increase our existing talent pool, as well as looking ahead to the skills and experience we will need in years to come.
Striving for gender equality
To achieve this, Leonardo offers an inclusive, progressive work environment, which nurtures a rich diversity of talent. We are strongly committed to supporting all our people, and just as we work within changes to society and the environment, our approach to I&D continues to evolve and adapt to reflect this.
A fundamental part of my new role is helping drive our business to thrive, and the number one key element of this will be achieved through our people. The vibrancy of our people through the variety of skills and perspectives they all bring to the workplace will not only help create a diverse organisation, but will enable our business to grow into an appealing and forward-thinking employer that reflects our society.
I am proud to be the sponsor of our company’s Equalise Network Group, which strives for gender equality within the workforce, in terms of both career development and opportunities. The Equalise team provides support to employees, shares information about gender issues, and dispels stereotypical assumptions in order to help truly reach equality throughout all levels of the business.
Leonardo is proud to be an exemplary, fair and inclusive employer, embracing diversity, supporting its local economies, being a customer of choice for our supply chain ecosystems and a valued supplier to our customers. Our active I&D strategy underpins this, and fosters a welcoming work environment where everyone feels they can be themselves.
But we are not resting on our laurels; we have set ambitious targets as part of our I&D programme, including achieving a 70:30 gender balance by 2025, closing the Gender and Ethnicity Pay Gap, and attaining the Disability Confident Award, having already attained the Employer Award in 2021, ahead of schedule.
As part of our I&D strategy, Leonardo has made several external pledges, and secured partnerships and accreditations including Women in Defence, Women in Aviation and Aerospace, Inclusive Employers, AFBE-UK, Disability Confident Employer Award and Employers for Carers.
As our Equalise executive sponsor and a male ally, I am particularly invested in achieving a 70:30 gender balance by 2025, and we have several strategic initiatives that align with this objective. We recently introduced the Springboard development programme to support the career advancement of women. Leonardo has also signed up to the Women in Defence Mentoring Programme which kicked off last year and provides experienced mentors from the Public Defence Sector for women looking to progress their careers further, to increase the representation of women at the top.
It is also important to remember those who are returning to work. Our STEM Returners programme provides an opportunity for people who have taken a career break, paused their career to start a family, or are transferring skills from other sectors, to integrate themselves into the STEM industry with specialist transitional support.
Engaging the next generation
Within our UK Helicopters business in Yeovil, we are looking to attract young talent and retain people for the future of aerospace – something which is incredibly important to me. For every 100 jobs within Leonardo, we support 355 jobs across the UK. I’m proud to say we have more than 150 trainees on-site, covering graduates and apprentices.
Furthermore, we have strategic partnerships to develop engineering research capabilities and improve graduate recruitment. We have a long-standing and mutually beneficial partnership with Yeovil College where our apprentices take their first steps in acquiring the skills that will lead to a hopefully fulfilling career in the UK aerospace sector with Leonardo. Our young STEM ambassadors and diversity role models visit schools in the UK to help with engineering projects and to provide careers advice. As one of the UK’s largest employers of engineering apprentices, we provide many opportunities to gain qualifications through on-the-job training.
Our focus on I&D within graduate recruitment is working – our last intake of graduates in Yeovil in November 2021 was the first to be gender balanced.
I therefore look forward to meeting everyone attending this year’s Aerowomen event here in Yeovil and welcoming all those who join us online. It is a privilege to be invited to open proceedings and even more so to be able to celebrate and champion the contribution that women engineers continue to make to our business, our sector and to our wider society.