EVP, Safran Seats GB
Improving gender balance will make aerospace companies more innovative and profitable. So, what are businesses in the sector really doing when it comes to increasing diversity?
There is more to engineering that you might think, says Victoria Foy, EVP of Safran Seats GB, part of the wider Safran Group which operates in the aviation, defence and space markets. Because the reality might surprise you. “For example,” she says, “the highly-skilled engineers on my team are designing cutting edge business class and first class seats for commercial aircraft. They’re working in open offices in close collaboration with fellow professionals and our airline customers, bringing seat designs to life from their imaginations.”
Victoria admits that more has to be done to make aerospace a more diverse industry. “Diversity and gender balance means that your company is more likely to be innovative and profitable” she insists. It’s also the right thing to do. To that end, Safran Group has set itself three major ambitions: to operate a change in corporate culture to become more inclusive and diverse; to increase the number of women leaders; and to become a more attractive place for women by identifying the benefits and working conditions that are important to them.
Working with schools and colleges to run career awareness days is vital if the industry is to become more appealing to girls and young women.
Building a more balanced and fair industry for women
Victoria is applying those big global aims across her UK business unit. When it comes to attracting new recruits, she believes that STEM outreach and working with schools and colleges to run career awareness days is vital if the industry is to become more appealing to girls and young women.
The subject of equality is plainly a passion for Victoria, who was recently announced as Co-Chair of the Women in Aviation and Aerospace Charter, a government-supported initiative with well over 200 signatories in the UK Aerospace industry, which aims to build a more balanced and fair industry for women. Members of the Charter include Safran, other major aerospace manufacturers, airlines, airports and trade bodies; and, as Co-Chair, she wants to ensure that all signatories are meeting the diversity targets they set for themselves.
In part, that means getting more women into leadership teams. “We must make sure that we support and train women so that they are ready when positions become available,” she says. “So, if you are looking to step into a senior role, ask for a mentor. They don’t have to be female. In fact, some of my best mentors have been men. Also, be clear about the enablers you’ll need to make a success of your new role. But ultimately, the best advice I could give is: be confident — and be yourself.”
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