How can we make engineering more diverse, equal and inclusive?

6 min read | Paul Gibbens | Article | Diversity, equity and inclusion

make engineering more diverse, equal and inclusive

62% of engineering employers are taking action to attract and hire more diverse talent, according to our research in partnership with The Engineer magazine. Six in 10 engineering organisations are offering flexible working arrangements and almost a third (31%) are advertising remote working roles so they can access diverse talent in other geographical locations. 

However, there’s certainly more to be done to make engineering a truly diverse, equal and inclusive sector. Our research in partnership with The Engineer shows that 44% of organisations acknowledge that those from different ethnic backgrounds experience barriers to success, while four in 10 recognise that this is the same for professionals over the age of 50. Meanwhile, 38% think that women don’t have the same opportunity to succeed in their organisation as men, and nearly a quarter think the same regarding individuals with a disability


Why is diversity, equity and inclusion so important within engineering?

In a sector focused on developing new technologies, structures and processes to improve our society, it’s important to embrace a diverse workforce, where engineers from different backgrounds and of all ages and genders can work together. Culturally and ethnically diverse engineering teams bring a wider range of perspectives to projects and tasks, which results in more effective problem-solving and greater opportunities for innovation and collaboration. 

Not only does prioritising diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) improve business results, but it can also enhance your level of employee engagement and your overall workplace culture. But how can you make sure DE&I is embedded across your entire organisation?


Diversify your recruitment strategy

Don’t miss out on the valuable skills and perspectives that diverse talent can bring to your organisation. Sometimes jobseekers from undiscovered talent groups, including ex-military personnel, neurodivergent individuals, caregivers and those with previously held convictions, can face barriers to work opportunities or experience unconscious bias during hiring processes. 

Our recent research on older workers across different industries shows that ageism is commonplace in the world of work and nearly half of professionals over the age of 50 believe their age has impacted their chance of receiving a job offer. In the engineering sector, where older workers represent some of the most proficient engineers available, it’s especially important to make sure you have an inclusive hiring culture and don’t miss out on the vital knowledge and experience that older workers can bring to your organisation.

Make sure you regularly audit your recruitment processes and make any adjustments to areas that aren’t inclusive to applicants from different backgrounds. This could involve:

  • Amending the wording in your job adverts to incorporate more inclusive language and less industry jargon.
  • Ensuring the right level of human input and testing is used when implementing AI tools to screen candidates at scale.


Place greater emphasis on core skills and potential 

In order to promote DE&I and tackle persistent skills shortages within engineering, employers need to assess applicants’ behaviours and their future potential when hiring, rather than solely focusing on their current skills and qualifications. Prioritising core skills, developed either in previous roles, volunteering positions or extra-curricular activities, will help to give professionals from undiscovered talent groups, like ex-forces personnel or formerly imprisoned individuals, an equal opportunity to succeed in the interview process.

Due to their technical nature and the specialist skills needed, a relevant degree is a typical requirement for many engineering roles. However, it’s encouraging to see in our latest salary and recruiting trends guide that employers in the engineering sector are open to hiring professionals from different educational backgrounds, where appropriate. Only one in 10 would not consider hiring someone who didn’t have a degree and half of organisations say that a degree is not an important consideration when recruiting in the sector. This is a step in the right direction when it comes to attracting and retaining engineering professionals from a wide range of backgrounds.

Promoting greater DE&I within engineering will have many positive outcomes for the entire sector, including fewer skills shortages, more manageable workloads, better business outcomes and an overall improvement in the mental health and wellbeing of engineers. Check out our DE&I report for more information on why it’s so important to foster a workplace culture with diversity, equity and inclusion at its core. 

If you’re looking to welcome a broader range of engineers to support your long-term talent pipeline, take a look at how our diversity, equity and inclusion advisory service can support your organisation to build a more diverse workforce today, and create a more inclusive tomorrow.


About this author

Paul Gibbens, National Specialism Director, Engineering, Hays

Paul began his recruitment career in 2005 before joining Hays in November 2019. Paul is an experienced customer-focused director with extensive knowledge of the nuclear, MOD & defence, oil & gas, rail, power generation, petrochemical, chemical, renewable energy, and manufacturing industries.

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