Embracing Equity in Engineering

Added: 1 month ago by Capgemini Engineering

oday, the world celebrates International Women in Engineering Day (INWED). INWED provides a great opportunity to come together and celebrate women in engineering, but also to pause. It is a day that provokes us to open discussions around the challenges facing women and to reflect on how we can help advance gender diversity in the workplace – especially in the field of engineering. This year, we’re looking at the idea of embracing equity, focusing on why equal opportunities aren’t enough and the importance of creating an inclusive environment. To truly embrace equity, we need to translate our discussions into actions!

This blog will explore what we really mean by ‘embracing equity’; why it should be something we take into the workplace, what we’re doing as a business to work towards equity and what we can each do as individuals.

What do we mean by embrace equity?

‘Equality’ and ‘equity’ are often used interchangeably in conversations surrounding diversity and inclusion, but it’s important to recognise the difference between the two terms. Equality means each individual or group of people is given the same resources or opportunities, whereas equity recognises that each person has different circumstances, and is, therefore, given the resources and opportunities needed to achieve the same outcomes. This is key because whilst on the surface equality is important, it doesn’t always mean equal outcomes. Equality is giving everyone a pair of shoes and equity is giving everyone shoes that fit.

Why should we embrace equity in engineering?

Large-scale change comes from small daily habits. A culture cannot be artificially created or pulled into being through force of will. One discussion is a fantastic force for kicking off change, but to gain traction, we need to take it forward in our day-to-day lives.

Acknowledging our own equity deficit is a step towards knowing ourselves better and increasing our understanding of others. It enables us to recognise that we all have different starting points, needs, threats and strengths, and helps us to see others with compassion.

As individuals, we require different types of support and encouragement to achieve our potential. Equity is a state of mind that acknowledges this and helps to create an environment where we can all flourish.

Some individuals may require specifically tailored resources. Adjustable-height desks, prayer rooms, and personal protective equipment that fits are all examples of more equitable practices. Creating an inclusive workplace that embraces equity will unleash our collective creativity and problem-solving ability, help us to relate better to each other and have more fun at work! This is something we are already working hard to create at Capgemini Engineering.

How are we as a business embracing equity?

At Capgemini, one of the key contributors to embracing equity is our Employee Networks. These provide a safe space to share experiences, promote awareness of issues related to diversity and inclusion and empower employees to build an inclusive workplace where everyone feels able to be themselves. There are six different Employee Networks: Women@CapgeminiUK, Talking Heads (for anyone with an interest in Mental Health), Race & Equality Network, OUTfront (our LGBT+ network), CapAbility (with a focus on visible and invisible disabilities and carers) and the Armed Forces Network.

At Capgemini Engineering UK, our Women’s Network meets monthly to discuss a range of topics surrounding gender diversity and inclusion. We investigate the methods the business can use to support women. Educating, empowering and engaging with staff of all genders across the business so they feel confident raising and discussing these issues. As well as this positive learning and improvement, we are building a community of people who are growing in how they understand and relate to others. We are sharing, listening and learning from each other. Recent topics of discussion have included menopause, the importance of allyship and an event for International Women’s Day.

Earlier this year, the network held its first hybrid face-to-face event, which provided an excellent opportunity for individuals to come together as a community, share their experiences and hear from our inspiring guest speaker, Narmeen Rehman, an award-winning Chartered Engineer with a decade of experience working in the energy and nuclear sector. The event was a huge success and a real example of how quickly relationships and encouragement can grow when we give space and time to each other in the workplace, demonstrated by comments from those who attended:

“It was incredible being able to bounce ideas off of everyone and share thoughts”

“I greatly enjoyed the event, especially getting the opportunity to meet others in person.”

“Really nice to meet lots of new people and to put faces to names I’ve been working with over the last few months.”

For International Women’s Day, we invited Jazz Cool, an executive coach and performance consultant at In Cool Company to share her thoughts on the theme of the day. She stressed that looking inwards was just as important as looking outwards, and that compassion was key to ensuring lasting equitable solutions.

As well as our Employee Networks, we are also proud supporters of various external initiatives; a member of Women In Science and Engineering (WISE), the gender campaign of Business in the Community (BITC), and a signatory of the Tech Talent Charter and of the Wellbeing of Women’s Workplace Menopause Pledge. We’re also a prime employer for Where Women Work – promoting women in technology careers. In supporting these initiatives, we show that embracing equity means empowering everyone and providing opportunities to those who might not otherwise have them. 

What can we do as individuals to embrace equity?

Jazz Cool’s inspiring talk stressed that a key aspect of achieving equity is supporting and listening to each other. Showing compassion towards others is crucial to understanding points of view that are different from your own and providing the opportunities that others need to succeed. This is what equity embodies: a business that fits everyone.

Understanding the fear of equity is also key; fear we may hold ourselves and taking the time to understand where our colleagues’ fears come from. Change can be frightening. To best create a workplace where everyone feels able to embrace equity and support their colleagues, we will need to respect these different perspectives.
Jazz talked about ‘giving to get’. Where we don’t tell each other how to be or what is required. We ask instead. Giving an honest account of ourselves and our emotions, alongside facts and rationale, and crucially, listening to each other.

Finally, equity can only be achieved when individuals see their experiences upheld and reflected in their environments. When support is given according to need and facilitates truly equal opportunities. When our businesses enable us to contribute to the best of our ability, as the individuals we are.

Conclusion

So, this year, let’s use International Women in Engineering Day as an opportunity to continue to develop an inclusive workplace where everyone is given the resources and opportunities needed to succeed.

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