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Diversity and Inclusion 2020

Engineering big changes with diversity and inclusion

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Companies that put diversity and inclusion practices at the heart of their operations stand to benefit in a variety of ways, say two team members from a global engineering firm.

David Murtagh

Finance Executive Director, Cummins Engine Business Unit, Darlington

What are the ethical reasons for diversity and inclusion in business?

Global companies need to have respect for all cultures and all employees because it’s the right thing to do. They also need to represent and reflect the communities in which they operate. There’s a moral imperative to diversity and inclusion, but it makes practical business sense, too. For example, up to 17% of people have some form of disability, but they bring immense talents to the table which can help better service customers and make our teams stronger. So why would you discount that part of the talent pool? Also, when it comes to recruitment, the current generation is looking for employers who share their values.

What professional support is there for people with disabilities who want a career in engineering?

Companies need to make appropriate accommodations for people with disabilities. As an engineering company, we want to make sure our sites are as physically accessible as possible with disabled access and lifts, and making physical adjustments to equipment where needed, etc; but we also have regular disability assessments and audits to ensure we’re doing the right things to include the broadest number of people. Generally, because disability is incredibly difficult to define, employers need to have an open, flexible and accommodative mindset — and make this clear to candidates during the recruitment process. We’ve taken many steps at Cummins in recent years to ensure we’re providing the right environment for all types of employees to thrive.

Is coaching managers to act in the right way an integral part of improving diversity and inclusion in the workplace?

It’s really important because there may be some individuals  who don’t recognise just how critical diversity and inclusion is. People need to understand why it’s the right thing to do — and also that companies will be able sell more of their products if they make D&I a core value. Helping managers understand the importance of inclusion also empowers them to provide a better employee experience for their teams.

Alison Snell

General Manager, Europe ABO Strategy, Cummins

How do you ensure managers and leaders embrace diversity and inclusion in their work?

D&I has to be a key part of how we treat, listen, engage and communicate with each other. To that end we run training programmes on D&I and unconscious bias; and we run conferences, such as women’s conferences and diversity and inclusion conferences. We host various employee resource groups, such as women’s empowerment, groups for employees of different ethnicities and backgrounds, Pride groups to promote discussion of LGBTQ+ issues, and disability inclusion employee resource groups. Plus, the company’s leaders often talk about their own experiences of diversity and inclusion and what it means to them in regularly conducted forums and town hall events.

Is diversity and inclusion part of the recruitment process?

It is. If a hiring manager is looking to recruit someone for a specific role, a group of senior leaders will work with that person to ensure the shortlist features a diverse mix of candidates. Obviously, the role will ultimately be given to the best person for the job, but if all the candidates look and sound the same then you’re narrowing your options as a recruiter. We’ve also broadened our scope to consider candidates with, for example, electrical engineering, chemical engineering, physics and maths degrees. By doing so, we’ve increased the number of female engineers in our teams.

What are the company’s core values?

Integrity: ensuring we do what we say we’ll do and doing what’s right. Diversity and inclusion: ensuring difference is valued. Caring: demonstrating awareness for the wellbeing of others. Excellence: always delivering superior results. And, finally, teamwork: collaborating across functions, businesses and borders. I think most large, reputable companies put their values front and centre in this way. But these will only work if they’re intrinsic to your organisation, and not bolted on as an afterthought. At Cummins we actively work to ensure these values are top of mind and embedded in our DNA at all levels of the organisation.

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