Trustee, Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET)
Dr Laura Norton
Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion,
Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET)
Embedding equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI), whatever sector we’re in, is critical – but knowing where to start can be daunting.
Katy Deacon, Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) Trustee and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Working Party Chair, says: “I’ve seen first-hand how slow company-wide EDI initiatives can be to get moving, often because people think it isn’t business-critical or relevant to them. If the organisation values its people, it can be incredibly liberating and engaging if people are asked to make their own impact.”
Scaling up diversity in engineering
The engineering sector is no different — with women only making up 16.5% of the UK engineering workforce1 and only 3 in 10 engineering organisations stating they have taken action to improve the diversity of their workforce.2 Partners, customers and wider industry often say they want to do more but worry that change requires large-scale policies and buy-in, which often acts as a blocker to progress.
However, starting small can set organisations up for success. “It could be picking accessible venues, including speakers happy to speak about their disability or hearing all voices in a meeting. Little actions go a long way and can be transformative,” insists Deacon. “I’m proud that we view EDI as more than a tick-box exercise and, rather, a critical area to embed thoroughly in every area of our organisation.”
Becoming more inclusive can start
simply with small but meaningful actions.
Importance of championing EDI
The IET is a multidisciplinary professional engineering institution, working to engineer a better world by inspiring and informing communities. EDI is critical to making that a reality. The Institution has a long legacy of promoting an inclusive profession, from its Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards to its Celebrating Impact campaign. It has also made great strides in championing EDI in all areas of the organisation, establishing networks and committees and all-colleague training. However, there’s always more that can be done.
Sharing knowledge and resources
The ‘Inclusive thinking? Pass it on!’ campaign, inspires those working in engineering and technology — whether in HR, operations, technical or C-suite roles — and provides a platform for best practices. Dr Laura Norton, IET Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, elaborates: “We have a responsibility but also an opportunity to disseminate the great work already going on in our sector but also to support those just starting out on their EDI journey.”
Organisations can’t become the blueprint for inclusion overnight. Dr Norton insists: “There’s huge value in leading by example and creating robust policies and processes, but becoming more inclusive can start simply with small but meaningful actions.”
 Engineering UK, 2022
 IET Skills and Demand in Industry Survey, 2021