Diversity and Inclusion Implementation Steering Group
About the Diversity and Inclusion Progression Framework
As a professional science body, or Professional Engineering Institution, you’ve probably heard about the D&I Progression Framework. It was developed in collaboration between the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Science Council to progress diversity and inclusion (D&I) across 63 engineering and science professional bodies. It helps professional bodies track and plan progress on D&I.
Developed by a group from the professional bodies, it focuses on progress on D&I in eight areas relevant to professional body activity:
- Governance and leadership
- Membership and professional registration
- Meetings, conferences and events
- Education and training, accreditation and examinations
- Prizes, awards and grants
- Communications, marketing, outreach and engagement
- Monitoring and measuring.
So it’s a Framework developed by the sector, for the sector. It’s relevant, comprehensive and an easy to use self-assessment tool. For many professional bodies, it has been the starting point for their equality and diversity action plan and whilst there are eight areas, you don’t have to embark on all areas at the same time. You can pick and choose which you do based on what is most important and relevant to your organisation. Although of course the more you tackle the better you D&I outcomes will be.
It can be used as an internal tool at any time to:
- structure conversations about performance and progress on D&I
- identify strengths and areas for development
- report on performance to leadership teams or boards
- plan next steps in making progress on D&I.
So what is it like to use the Framework?
“There is going to be a huge benefit to our organisation in using this framework to help guide us in identifying the next practical steps in each of the areas described, so it’s hugely useful, thank you!”
Institute of Engineering Designers (IED)
“It helped to focus our minds on DEI and raise its profile at our council meetings and enabled us to consider its implication in the wider context of our organisation.”
Society for Cardiological Science and Technology
“It gives a sense of achievement where we are doing quite well, and inspiration to do more. A reminder of areas where we are not yet making progress, inspiration to tackle these next.”
Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine
“A good starting point to begin the conversation and increased confidence that we are all moving in the same direction in the same way.”
Operational Research Society
“The framework has been incredibly useful in helping us facilitate conversations on diversity and inclusion across the organisation and identify ways in which we can improve practice. It provides a benchmark by which we can measure improvement.”
The Progression Framework Steering Group would like to help ALL professional science bodies and PEIs to start using the Framework. We have put together resources, templates and case studies to help you, which you will find below. And we would be happy to provide you with a partner organisation to answer questions and share their learning with you.
by the CEO of Institution of Agricultural Engineers
I have always found the subject of widening participation interesting and in previous job roles, inspecting colleges and training providers, I have frequently found myself in a conversation about what is being done to address the challenge.
Clearly there are societal attitudes to be overcome and I recall recently a television programme where children and their parents, separately, we asked to draw an image of people undertaking a range of jobs, from brain surgeon through to motor mechanic. There was surprise (and some outrage) when the real job holders turned up proving that people, in general, hold a somewhat stereo typical view of what an engineer or technologist might look like. There is no doubt, in my mind, that if young people were asked to draw a picture of an agricultural engineer, the resulting image may well reinforce the traditional image.
I can’t think of any employer who would knowingly not buy in to the idea of promoting equality and diversity and may well latch on to the traditional matters of gender and race saying that they would be quite happy to employ anyone from these groups. Why wouldn’t they?
However, I feel that the greatest challenge we face is the rural/urban divide, a point I made at a recent meeting and one which raised a few eyebrows. Once I had described it, there was an acceptance that I had a point.
This comes down to “unconscious bias”. Unconscious bias happens automatically, outside our control, and is triggered by our brain making quick judgments and assessments of people and situations, influenced by our background, cultural environment and personal experiences. And then there is conscious bias, in other words, outright prejudice!
The question of the urban/rural divide became even more apparent in a conversation with a group of students following an Agricultural Engineering course about how many of them were from a “farming background”. It was the majority! This begs many questions. What are we doing to promote our industry to a more diverse audience? How can we change the perceptions of those people who look into our industry from the outside and perhaps have a preconceived view of who we are and what we do? Are we, through our unconscious bias, unknowingly putting up barriers?
It is time we started challenging the view by some employers that “we like to employ people from a farming background because they understand the industry, the working patterns and the need for long hours and flexibility”. By taking that view, surely we are closing the door and opportunities to those from a more diverse background who might bring new ideas and new vibrancy to our industry. Perhaps those who complain the most about the recruitment challenge should hold up a mirror and ask if it is their unconscious bias which is the barrier.
Gender Balance: changing the narrative
by Terry Fuller Chief Executive, The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management
In October I attended an event that reinforced my beliefs about how we meet the immense challenges we face in managing water and our environment. The event was organised by Women in Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management (FCERM), the group initiated in the UK by Environment Agency deputy director flood and coastal risk management Clare Dinnis.
This networking group of professionals, set up to support and connect women working across FCERM, focuses on women, and those who line manage and mentor them.
I was delighted to participate. Professional Institution have a golden opportunity and an absolute responsibility to support gender balance in our profession. This is imperative but the event reminded me how the changes we make to address gender balance will shape both the diversity of our profession and our ability to meet global challenges.
I described the ways in which can make a big difference. Career breaks were central to the discussion – too often our professions lose women at maternity leave. This is a period in which professional confidence can be lost, women feeling out of touch with industry and practice and bringing a perceived loss of professional capability.
Professional Institutions can make a positive contribution, maintaining continuing professional development (CPD), mentoring, providing industry updates, holding events at accessible times and places and online and offering on demand resources such as webinars. Although this is a significant factor for many, it is not for all. One speaker felt defined as a child bearer, bringing all sorts of limiting presumptions about her career aspirations and career choices.
There are many other reasons for gender imbalance. Our professional environments can still be unappealing and discouraging, even hostile, to women. I witness these behaviours in meetings to this day. My institution, CIWEM, will continue to address gender imbalance – in our institution and in the professions we serve. But for all the organisational changes and support activities we can introduce, it is the narrative that has to change.
We recently introduced simple measures to enable a CIWEM trustee to remain on the board during her first year of childcare. Our trustee is a fantastic contributor to board meetings and we did not want to lose that contribution for at least a year due to meetings’ physical constraints. That perspective focuses on individuals’ value, elevating the debate beyond doing a good thing.
Addressing gender imbalance is imperative; it is unacceptable and embarrassing that this remains an issue. Gender imbalance is visible, easy to measure and its causes are easier to grasp than those of many other forms of under-representation. But tackling this empowers us to tackle all forms of imbalance.
By supporting maternity leave we create a culture and practices that support a healthy work-life balance for all. That values all life experiences. In a healthy workplace, no one feels hostility; everyone feels able to be heard and to contribute. Challenging gender stereotypes supports working environments in which everyone, no matter how traditionally masculine or feminine, can participate. It enshrines values that encourage participation regardless of age, race and sexual orientation.
I believe it takes the broadest possible range of perspectives and ideas to achieve sustainable management of water and our environment. This must be our motive.
I&D: The importance of an evidence based approach
by Laura Norton PhD, Senior Programme Manager, Inclusion and Diversity, Royal Society of Chemistry
To get the very best scientific outputs we need a diversity of inputs and talents. For this to happen we need a motivating and fully inclusive environment that allows everyone to fulfil their potential. But how do we do this? How do we improve both diversity and inclusion in science?
At the Royal Society of Chemistry, we believe in taking an evidence-based approach. We believe in collecting data and carrying out research to draw conclusions and then adapt our way of working accordingly to progress positive change.
In February 2018 we released the Diversity landscape of the chemical sciences. This report used evidence and data to benchmark the current state of diversity within the chemical sciences. As expected, our research showed that the chemical sciences is not fully representative of the diversity of our wider society. We found a lack of diversity in many areas: disability, socio-economic background, age and ethnicity. But the most striking result was that the lack of gender equality continues to be the single most important factor. We see a dramatic drop in the number of women in the chemical sciences as we move through career stages from undergraduate through to professor or equivalent roles. We provided evidence of a lack of retention and poor progression of women through careers in the chemical sciences. The diversity landscape of the chemical sciences is not good enough, currently chemistry is not for everyone.
Our next step was to uncover why this was the case – what has led to this lack of diversity particularly in senior positions in the chemical sciences and how can we improve it? Our next ‘experiment’ was to uncover what is really preventing women from remaining in or progressing within the chemical sciences. We gathered data from our community using an online survey, focus groups and interviews and presented this is in our new report Breaking the barriers. Three key barrier themes emerged (1) academic funding structures (2) the academic culture and (3) balancing work with other responsibilities. Through analysing these data we have formulated our own commitments and provided recommendations for our community. We concluded that concerted action from all is required to ensure that talented people are able to reach their full potential regardless of gender.
New actions that have resulted from analysis of these data are:
- launching a bullying and harassment helpline;
- launching grants for carers;
- launching an annual recognition for chemistry departments demonstrating significant progress in I&D;
- facilitating an exchange of best practice between peers;
- and launching a gender equality forum to accelerate the required culture change.
All of these actions are based on our research and so are driven by the needs of our community. In order to help progress gender equality for our community we must listen to their experiences, perceptions and needs change. We need to break the barriers and fill the gaps. We believe that for positive progress we must take an evidence-based approach and share widely our findings so that together we can accelerate the pace of change in I&D.
The Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS) recently asked its members to discuss gender equality in the workplace. Three members from across the UK shared their experiences.
Joanne Motte, Advanced Practitioner in Histological Dissection, Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Absolutely, I think that gender equality is well represented within biomedical science. Currently, this is a predominantly “female profession” – females represent 65% of biomedical scientists. My laboratory alone demonstrates this with a ratio of three females to every one male scientist. With Agenda for Change, a drive towards flexible working hours and shared parental leave, more women are finding successful employment in laboratories. I believe it is a profession where career advancement is now based on experience and attaining further qualifications, rather than gender.
What must also be considered, however, are the historic setbacks relating to maternity leave and changing working patterns, with many women opting to return to work part-time in order to achieve a work-family balance. This may be reflected in the data showing that three-quarters of IBMS students, associates, licentiates and members are women, but the figure drops quite significantly to 56% at fellow level. The global movement for gender equality has not incorporated the proposition of genders besides women and men, or gender identities outside of the gender binary. I would like to think our profession is open to all genders and gender designations. This is an exciting time and I am looking forward to seeing how we continue to equally shape our workforce and profession.
Colin Mudd, Higher Specialist Biomedical Scientist, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust
My experience is yes. Of course, there are still areas for improvement and there will probably always be cases of discrimination whilst we have human beings in our laboratories. That, of course, is not to justify or understand it. Perhaps only artificial intelligence will eradicate it completely.
Nearly 42 years ago when I began my career, things were somewhat different. Attitudes thankfully have changed considerably since then. In the 70s and 80s, there were lots of women in working in laboratories but very few were in senior management positions. I carry out many registration and specialist portfolio verifications around the country and the story today seems quite different. Anecdotally, I see as many women as men in senior managerial positions. My observation also is that women seem to dominate the role of Training Officer/Manager.
The diversity we find in biomedical scientists today is refreshing to see. Having been given over 150 lab tours during my visits to many hospitals, I see so many diverse people, and feel honoured to work in such an environment. With gender fluidity and non-binary issues at the core of the gender debate these days I do wonder, however, how accepting we all actually are of such differences. Perhaps the answer lies in the hands of the younger generation of biomedical scientists, who tend to be more accepting, more questioning than perhaps those of us of an older generation.
Sheelagh Heugh, Head of Student Experience and Academic Outcomes, School of Human Sciences, London Metropolitan University
There is still a gender equality gap amongst the biomedical scientists. There are more women biomedical scientists, but there is a predominance of males in higher grades, and where women are in the higher grades, they are paid less than their counterparts. Historically, differences were attributed to the flexibility biomedical scientist work gave working mothers, but the change in lab shift patterns has resulted in more parity of hours worked. The number of women in science has increased, but there still remains a predominance of males in higher positions with higher pay packets, but the gap closes steadily.
Knowing Her Place: Positioning Women in Science
By Bevan V, Gatrell C. (Cheltenham UK, 2017, Edward Elgar Publishing)
This highly topical book aims to investigate the barriers and influences confining women to “operational/lower level management”. The main premise is a series of structured interviews between the authors, in particular Bevan, and volunteers from the healthcare setting who were known to the author. The interviews are detailed and provide a fascinating overview of the perceptions of male and female biomedical scientists and colleagues in the workplace and in the home environment. Joyce Anne Overfield
I approached this course with absolutely no idea whatsoever about what to expect from it and I was anticipating anything from a supportive sharing of LGBTQ experiences to a didactic “this is how to be a good, queer role model”. What actually happened was both familiar and unfamiliar and simultaneously uncomfortable and reassuring, but overall extremely rewarding.
Common themes that came out during the day included the lack of legitimacy experienced by people with non-binary sexual and gender identities; the removal of the shield of invisibility for trans people who come out and start transitioning; and the guilt often felt on those occasions when we don’t challenge or come out in the professional environment. This is often because we don’t feel it’s safe or we’re just not comfortable doing so, or because we don’t think it’s appropriate for the (professional) environment we’re in.
The comment was made that non-LGBTQ people often don’t appear to understand or appreciate this because in a heteronormative world, they are never in a position where they (often unexpectedly) have to disclose such deeply-personal information. One of the delegates considered themselves “lucky” to work in a profession that was generally considered LGBTQ friendly and for an employer that was supportive of them and challenged discrimination. This use of the word “lucky” was immediately challenged as potentially causing LGBTQ people to set their baseline standards too low, and indicative of the levels of discrimination that still exist in many workplaces.
Some of the common characteristics of role models that emerged from the discussions included: a lack of awareness of their own status; perseverance in the face of adversity; an ability to put themselves in other people’s shoes and champion other people’s causes; and a willingness to challenge the status quo.
Reasons for not challenging barriers to inclusion were identified as a lack of support from different levels of management; time; organisational culture; attitudes of colleagues; lack of effective policies; isolation (geographical and social); and one that came up in a variety of guises: fear.
When we looked more closely at these themes, we found that they were strongly interlinked and underpinned by a strong business-case for change and that overcoming one of the barriers would lead to solutions to the others. The challenge was to demonstrate in the business case the value to the organisation of such changes, and obtaining robust quantitative evidence for them. The need to use realistic, small goals to effect large-scale change was emphasised.
So what did I discover? Well, I discovered that the LGBTQ community represents a diverse range of individual characteristics and it is important that we individually represent them all. While I have always championed the other voices of the community, I have been concerned that I wasn’t qualified to but I now know that’s okay, I just need to educate myself and, if I don’t know something when asked, say so and try to find out – pretty obvious really.
The three critical themes that I identified from the day were:
1) role models are individuals with flaws but can inspire simply by being themselves;
2) with the right support we can make the world a better place for LGBTQ people; and
3) that we represent a whole myriad of different LGBTQ voices not just those letters we identify with.
Dr Robert Farley, IPEM Trustee, Director of IPEM Professional and Standards Council, and IPEM’s LGBT network mentor.
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