We need to actively work to address this and to dismantle the barriers. The present situation doesn’t reflect the diversity of talent we have in the industry or the country.
Diversity and inclusion
Since then, the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) has carried out a survey of its membership on the extent of racism, both in the industry and in the Institution. To our knowledge, it’s the first such survey in the country.
Responses to the ICE survey laid bare the issues …
— Over 80% of people of colour cited a degree of racism, with 66% of white respondents agreeing. This was particularly observed by younger engineers.
— The survey also found that during the COVID-19 pandemic, significantly higher percentages of people of colour were either furloughed or made redundant.
— Encouragingly, over 70% of those at director or owner level also recognised degrees of racism in the industry.
In relation to our own working environment, we have been working to further educate ourselves on how we can foster a culture of diversity, equality and belonging. This is an intersectional pursuit, as no single issue can be addressed without considering its position in the industry and how it might interact with other discriminations that people may also face.
We believe in the power of diversity and in the benefits diversity brings to our practice through different ways of thinking and in challenging us to better ourselves. However, it isn’t enough to just welcome diversity. Everyone deserves to be in an inclusive workplace in which they feel comfortable to be themselves. These are important considerations for us, and will continue to be important as our practice grows.
We are publishing this update to show our commitment to working towards equality and to show our support for our colleagues of colour. We continue to put our people first and will ensure that we continue these conversations, maintaining an ongoing focus on diversity and inclusivity.
Focusing on promoting engineering to young people of all backgrounds when undertaking community engagement work with local students
Our internal development groups have been restructured to focus more directly on the issues that are important to us. One group is Community Engagement, and we are ensuring that group goals include engagement with local students that reaches the full breadth of our diverse local community.
Supporting anti-racist charities
We have long-standing relationships with several relevant charities in the engineering sector, most-directly CODEP and REDr UK. We are also planning to select a further group of charities to work with closely and support with regular fundraising.
Encourage the engineering institutions to publish diversity data now and in the future
In the last year we have had regular correspondence with the ICE and the Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE). Subsequently, the ICE undertook its survey (see above). Its was published as part of a wider ICE initiative called ‘Anti-Racism Toolkit’, in which they accepted eight recommendations about racism in the industry. It’s fantastic to see the ICE publicly holding itself to account on their commitments to diversity and inclusion. We have attempted to engage with the IStructE to similar effect, and look forward to their response.
Publish any data that we collect ourselves concerning the composition of our own teams, including different levels
Data has been collected on the composition of our teams but not yet published in full. Our gender pay gap analysis has been published. We will be updating the data annually in order to review our progression as a company over time, and will publish it online by Q4 2022.
Provide diversity training for members of our teams
In the last year, we have run training on inclusive cultures for all our staff, addressing biases and traits that hamper diversity in the workplace. This process identified potential barriers and we are working to rectify our approach and policies. Additionally, we have set up a dedicated development group to identify areas for improvement and develop strategies for implementation.
WE STRONGLY BELIEVE …
… that diversity and inclusion are good for business, and we are constantly learning that the wonderful differences between us ensure our success as a team. Are we there yet? Absolutely not — it’s a work in progress. We are doing what we can to foster the positive change we want to see.
Our aspiration is to support everyone in our teams, the people that we work with, and future generations who will join our industry — through actions and initiatives that promote diversity of all kinds. Just as importantly, actions we take to promote diversity need to be backed up by an inclusive culture, as an inclusive workplace enables people to thrive. These strategies are being implemented through our Diversity & Inclusion development group, which will continue to share Whitby Wood’s progress throughout the journey.