You might not think of the engineering industry as a diverse, equitable and inclusive place to work— but things are changing, say two business leaders from a leading company in the sector.
Product Validation Engineer, Cummins Turbo Technologies, Huddersfield
Why are you so passionate about helping others to learn about different cultures?
I grew up in an extremely multi-ethnic and multi-cultural environment in Malaysia, so I’m used to being surrounded by — and celebrating — different cultures. I think a person’s culture is a beautiful thing. You can learn a lot about a country and an individual through their culture and beliefs, and it reminds us all to keep an open mind.
Helping others to learn about different cultures is important if we are to build mutual respect among people. That can lead to more understanding and less discrimination, which is good for society as a whole.
What inspired you to get involved in the Diversity Council at Cummins?
I wanted to continue the company’s good work with regard to diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I), and I thought I could provide a different perspective with regards to this. As someone with an international background, I believe I have something to offer when it comes to engaging different groups of individuals. One of the Council’s aims is to make sure that the company isn’t just a workplace — it’s a community of shared values, and we’re leveraging those differences and values to make our business stronger and ensure people are embraced for who they are and what they aspire to achieve.”
Is it important for companies to have diversity and inclusion groups that employees can easily join?
Without a doubt. Such groups should allow all employees, especially new starters and graduates, to meet like-minded people who are interested in promoting an inclusive work environment. It’s about building a community that values all opinions and a way to ensure that all voices are heard by the company. When I look for companies to work for, I want to find an organisation that aligns with my values. I don’t think I’m just speaking for myself. I think most people of my generation think this way.
Vice President Cummins Europe ABO (Area Business Organisation), Belgium
What benefits does diversity and inclusion bring to global brands?
As a business, DE&I have been part of our culture since we started more than 100 years ago, but it’s even more relevant now. The reason we take it so seriously is that we believe a diverse team broadens our talents and skillsets, which makes us a stronger and better company and allows us to attract and retain more people. That means creating an environment where everyone — whoever they are and whatever their background — can feel comfortable, valued and able to recognise their full potential. The mix of skillsets and backgrounds also allows us to innovate more quickly and bring added value to our industry.
Does diversity and inclusion enable companies to work to the best of their ability?
We know that having a good gender balance allows us to work much better as a team. Across Europe, we want 50% of our workforce to be female — although some functions have been more successful at this than others. But, of course, diversity isn’t just about gender. It’s also about including people from different cultures and nationalities, because if everyone looks and sounds the same, they’re more likely to come at problems from the same angle. So, diversity helps us improve our capabilities and the service we offer to our customers — who are also all very different.
Have you seen a progressive change across the engineering industry throughout your career?
A little, but not enough. As an industry we need to do more to help young women choose STEM as a career. It’s why we’ve worked with schools across the UK to attract women and girls who might be interested in engineering, so they can see the work we do up close and dispel any misconceptions they may have.