A recent report published by the EEF, the Manufacturer’s Organisation, revealed that manufacturing companies in the FTSE 100 have a higher than average number of women on their boards than the index overall.
The report comes at a critical time given the debate over whether there should be statutory quotas for women on Plc Boards, and because of the national debate on the shortage of female engineers at all levels.
The report highlights that out of the 29 manufacturing firms within the FTSE 100, women account for 19 percent of board positions, which is slightly higher than the 17 percent average of the entire FTSE 100.
However, with 81 percent of directorships held by men, just like other sectors, it is clear manufacturers have some way to go in tapping into the full talent pool at all levels of their workforce. Some commentators have suggested that the best way to address this is by introducing quotas for the numbers of women on boards.
EEF's analysis suggests that this would not address the underlying issue of the need to increase the pipeline of women with engineering and other skills choosing to work in manufacturing, instead suggesting that careers advice must focus on promoting science and engineering options at a much earlier stage in school than the current key stages 4 (ages 14-16) and 5 (ages 16-18). As part of the campaign, EEF has also challenged manufacturers to get more of its apprentices and manufacturing graduates involved in going back into their schools, colleges and universities to promote careers in Industry.
Last month (April), the IOM3 held its first ‘Women in Materials Event’ on mentoring and working with schools, which is a pertinent example of the sort of thing the EEF is encouraging. Dr. Ruth Sealy, Deputy Director of the International Centre for Women Leaders at Cranfield School of Management and an advisor on the EEF’s report said: “Mentoring is a vital activity to grow the female talent pipeline and enable high flyers to realise the possibility of career progression.”
The plastic and rubber industries highlight some excellent examples of successful female role models who could certainly inspire and encourage a new generation of women into the sector. It is vital at a time where so much focus is given to succession planning and skills transfer that the opportunity is extended so that equal representation, at all levels, is given to all.