RAF awarded for encouraging school girls to consider engineering careers

The Royal Air Force (RAF) has scooped a top accolade for the work it has done to encourage girls to consider a career in engineering.

The military service received ‘The Santander Award: Inspiring the Workforce of the Future’ at the Opportunity Now Awards held in London last night.

The glittering ceremony honours firms that demonstrate commitment and innovation in creating workplaces where women can succeed.

Judges applauded the RAF’s primary school road show, which saw 15,000 children participate, and its week-long residential course for 14- to 15-year-old girls to engage them in science, engineering and technology.

Keynote speaker James Smith, chairman of Shell UK, said creating a diverse and inclusive workplace was not a matter of political correctness, but an essential part of modern business.

He told guests, including more than 500 business and public sector leaders: “The competitiveness of the UK depends on us having the most capable and talented people in our workplaces – we are only going to achieve this if we broaden our definition of talent and strive to create workplaces that work for all. Change needs to come from the top, and it is pale males in leadership positions such as myself who have a responsibility to champion this change.”

Alison Platt, divisional managing director Europe for Bupa, and chair of Opportunity Now, said: “Gender equality in the workplace is not a women’s issue, it is a business necessity. As the economy gathers strength, I believe the post-recession recovery relies on organisations prioritising their people, tapping into new talent, and ensuring everyone is engaged, productive and motivated.”

Personnel Today group editor Dawn Spalding, was among the panel of shortlisting judges.

The other award winners were:

The Agile Organisation Award

Sysdoc Ltd, a management consultancy which has positioned flexibility as a key organisational value. Fifty per cent of its consultants and 60% of its board are women with caring responsibilities.

The Champion Award

Police Sergeant Isabella Janice McManus of the Ministry of Defence Police and Guarding Agency for the work she did with women within the Afghan National Police.

The Directing Diverse Talent Award in association with the CIPD

Jane James, employment regeneration director at MITIE for her commitment to inclusive management of talent. She was responsible for setting up an apprentice employability scheme within her organisation, which has resulted in 81 people gaining full-time employment.

The Female FTSE 100 Award

This award was given to the FTSE 100 organisation with the most women on its board overall. It was awarded jointly to Alliance Trust and Burberry, both of which have boards made up of 43% women.

The FTSE Executive Women Award

This award was given to the FTSE 100 organisation with the most women on its executive committee. It was awarded jointly to Burberry and Pearson, which both have two women in executive board positions.

Advancing Women in the Workplace Award

This award recognises work that has aided the recruitment, retention and development of women in the workplace. It was given to HM Revenue & Customs to recognise its Senior Women’s Network, which has helped to increase the number of women in senior civil service grades to 32%.

The Global Award

IBM earned this award for its ‘Building Relationships and Influence Programme for Women’. The company has seen a 25% increase in the number of women in executive positions between 2007 and 2009 – 75% of female executives promoted in this timeframe had attended the course.

The Inclusive Culture Award

National Grid scooped this accolade for the work it has done to embed values of diversity and inclusion into its business.

The Innovation Award

This award recognises an organisation that has started to tackle gender issues in a different way. It was given to The Olympic Delivery Authority for the work it is doing to increase the number of women in construction. There are more than twice as many women working within the manual trades on the Olympic park than the national average.

Below: Alison Platt, chair of Opportunity Now, welcomes guests.
Chair of Opportunity Now Alison Platt welcomes guests to last night

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