Business Content Writer, WISE, the campaign for greater gender balance in STEM
By creating diverse and inclusive workforces, employers can ensure their organisations are sustainable and competitive.
The UK’s economy has been hit hard in recent years. The crash of 2009 was followed by a depression then austerity and most recently the pandemic. To top this off – in light of the climate crisis – UK businesses face considerable pressure to reform and become more sustainable. Much of the economic recovery and the development of renewables will be driven by the STEM sector.
Therefore, it is key that the sector performs as well as it possibly can1 and to do so, it must be diverse. There is much evidence to show that diverse and inclusive organisations see increased productivity, profitability, creativity and innovation, as well as happier customers. Some research indicates that the benefits of diversity are increasing over time.2
Leaders should communicate their belief in diversity regularly and ensure they are aware of their own unconscious biases.
Make leaders accountable
STEM organisations can struggle to make the necessary changes to their culture to increase diversity, but the following well-tested steps can help. Ensuring commitment from the very top is one. Leaders should communicate their belief in diversity regularly and ensure they are aware of their own unconscious biases. In addition, organisations should collect data around numbers of women at every level. They should also analyse recruitment, retention, promotion and pay in the same way.
D&I should be tackled like any other business project, with a nominated board director responsible and accountable for the transformation. A plan of action, targets, timelines as well as a clear-sighted look at the success and otherwise of D&I projects is also essential.
Recruit, retain, retrain
Taking a granular look at recruitment processes can help employers attract women. Research shows that women are more likely to apply for a job that seems to make a difference to society – and hiring managers should consider this when writing job advertisements.
Put D&I centre stage
Working practices have changed considerably during the pandemic and now employers are looking at their long-term options. As they bring their workforce back to the office, they should ensure part-time or flexible working options are available, particularly for the most senior roles.
Employers should also ensure that hybrid solutions and other forms of flexible working benefit everyone equally, and that they create opportunities for staff to network and participate in joint projects. Ensuring a diversity and inclusion strategy is at the core of any changes made will help an organisation remain competitive and sustainable.
 The Business Case for Gender Diversity – WISE (wisecampaign.org.uk)
 How Diversity & Inclusion Matter | McKinsey