Pushing for honest conversations to drive diversity
Emma, Amber & James
Emma Goulding (Performance Engineer), Amber O’Connor (Diagnostic Services and Programme Manager) and their sponsor James Place (Head of Engineering for ATG Services), told us about the Press for Progress initiative, and why creating a workplace culture that welcomes Diversity and Inclusion is much more than policy setting and box ticking.
Emma and Amber were taken aback by some of the things Siemens employees had experienced in the workplace
Emma – The International Women’s Day events really opened our eyes to issues that people were facing in the workplace. From struggles with career progression before and after parental leave, to feeling uncomfortable about using flexible working, the examples both genders shared with us really shone a light on thinking which needed to change. It made us look at our own office, where we asked ourselves what more could be done to support employees.
They took the initiative to make change because it wasn’t going to happen otherwise
Amber - At Warwick we already have a really diverse network of employees. What was missing was a culture and environment that really enabled people from all walks of life and experiences to talk to each other. We also wanted to set up a platform where people felt comfortable to share any diversity and inclusion issues, not just situations relating to gender. We set up Press for Progress, a monthly meeting where representatives from all departments in Warwick would come together to discuss how we could make the office more inclusive.
Out of the initial sessions came the idea for a food festival, bringing people together from different backgrounds and sharing their diversity through food. The interest we had was amazing and we had so many follow-ups from employees with ideas of how Press for Progress could make Warwick a more inclusive place to work.
Diversity and Inclusion can’t be a top down initiative
Emma - When you start a conversation on the topic of Diversity and Inclusion, you’ll always find people who have shared similar experiences. The problem is, no one is talking about it. As soon as you give people the space and platform to open up, that’s where progress is made.
James - Emma and Amber have made a real difference – the Warwick team have embraced Press for Progress, I’m proud to be one of their supporters and on the journey with them. Inspired by Emma and Amber, I’m running Engineer21, an initiative which looks to build a workplace to better support the creative, innovative nature of engineering that’s not always recognised. My vision for Engineer21 is to create an organisation with a culture of support, flexibility and opportunity. This happens by fostering a creative and innovative engineering environment that attracts, develops and retains people.
Communication leads to empowerment
James - You can’t manufacture behavioural change, but you can work to inspire people and enable action. What was great about Press for Progress was that it was started by Emma and Amber, two employees with a real fire to create change, and it’s only inspired more people to get involved.
Amber - If every person shared just one idea, from how career development could be improved to how flexible working can really benefit employees and had the confidence to voice their fears or doubts, we would make huge steps towards creating a more inclusive workplace.
Launching D&I initiatives drives awareness and understanding
Amber - Overall, it’s about awareness. Prior to us doing these activities, people weren’t necessarily aware of what Diversity and Inclusion even means, and how they as individuals could have any sort of impact on it. But now, people have started to take the initiative and say “Well, actually, I would like to make an impact here.”
Emma - Our two main goals are communication and empowerment. People might think that they’re having issues unique to them, but when they start talking about it with others, they realise the same applies to lots of people. Hopefully if these people start to see change, they’ll feel empowered to do things they wouldn’t have had the confidence to otherwise.