Before we get to engineering, let’s consider first why diversity and inclusion are important full stop. What is the quickest way to exterminate a species? War? Famine? Another general election? Plausible options, but to cut to the chase: if you narrow the gene pool and make everyone the same, you will create an extinction level event very quickly.
We see in nature the value of diversity; both in terms of its beauty but also in terms of how it supports the survival of multiple species. At its core, you might argue that biodiversity is a risk-mitigation tool for human survival.
The resilience of a system is based upon its ability to adapt in response to change. A lack of diversity equals a lack of options. A recognition that diversity is infinite and all around us is not enough, though. Without inclusion, the powerful force that creates the conditions for people to be as they are – not as they feel they have to be – diversity is doomed to failure. Inclusion is a choice.
Engineering solves big problems. It can’t do that if everyone who chooses it as a profession and vocation is the same. It will simply stop being innovative and the ‘creative gene pool’ will dry up. Half of the UK population are women, yet only 9% choose engineering as a profession. Even fewer people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds do; a startlingly low statistic considering these groups will make up 20-30% of the UK population by 2050.
At Siemens, we want to change attitudes towards diversity and inclusion, together with engineering, inside and outside the organisation. First of all, we have been engaged in a multi-year programme to inspire young people to pursue a career in engineering and technology. Our innovative and education resources provide a rich source of material for parents, teachers and students. Our SeeWomen programme is dedicated to inspiring girls to choose a career in engineering.
Secondly, we have invested in a dedicated in Women in Leadership programme within our organisation. The programme is designed to provide a safe and challenging learning environment for our female leaders. National trends illustrate an erosion of gender diversity with seniority, which has historically been typical within Siemens. Our programme aims to reverse this trend and empower female talents to take up leadership roles.
Finally, we have invested in unconscious bias training for all our leaders. Much has been written and discussed about the merits of such training. For us at Siemens, we view it like a wearable fitness tracker: it won’t make you fit, but it will make you conscious of the need to keep moving and nudge you every now and again when you need a push.
Diversity and inclusion is a topic whose time has come. It is a survival determinant, a source of innovation and has the power to bring out the best in humanity. For engineering and Siemens, it is a business and society imperative to foster ingenuity for life.
In 2004, Dan left Sainsbury's to join Siemens in their UK Corporate HR talent management team. In 2007, Dan was promoted to the Head of HR for Siemens Wind Power in the UK.
In 2010, he was promoted to the Head of Talent for UK and North West Europe. Most recently, he has taken on responsibility for Talent & Leadership Development across Europe and is a member of the Siemens Global Talent Expert team. He has responsibility for the governance of all talent management processes across the Region and leads the team in Siemens UK responsible for Entry Level talent, Skills and Education.
Dan has written and spoken for Executive Grapevine, the CIPD and has contributed to numerous studies on talent management.
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