This article was first published on LinkedIn by Ross B. Shuster (CEO, Howden)
Next Monday, March 8th, is International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women globally. Importantly, the day also serves as a reminder, and draws attention to the need to act upon and accelerate gender parity.
Within Howden we have a growing focus on inclusiveness and diversity. More specifically, we are focusing on diversity not only because it is the ‘right thing to do’, but also because we recognise that it is essential for the continued success of our business, our industry and society at large.
The success of any business is dependent upon its people, and therefore its ability to attract, develop and retain top talent. Diversity and Inclusion is an essential element in order to achieve this.
Within Howden, and candidly within our industry, we still have a journey ahead of us to achieve gender parity. Howden is at its ‘roots’ an engineering company, and especially companies who rely on engineering expertise for success and growth need to move more aggressively towards gender parity for long term survival.
Howden is headquartered in Scotland, U.K. One only needs to look at the statistics of engineering graduates in the U.K. as an example, to see the challenge at hand.
In the U.K. less than 20% of engineering undergraduates are female1. More specifically, within all of Scottish industry, women fill just 4% of the engineering-related apprenticeships2. When combining these statistics with the fact that in the U.K. there is an estimated annual skills shortage for engineering roles of approximately 40,000 - the imperative for action is clear3.
Addressing the issue of gender diversity in university engineering programs is an area we are committed to playing our part in addressing, and we will be stepping up these actions through our CSR efforts this year.
An additional focus is to ensure that within Howden we provide the culture and environment which will continue to allow us to attract, develop and retain the best, brightest, DIVERSE, and most high-potential individuals.
Given that apprentices and new graduate level roles are the foundation of our long-term talent pipeline, we have an ambition to have 50% of our incoming apprentices and new graduates being female starting this year, among our other diversity commitments.
On Monday, across the Howden organisation conversations will take place on the subject of diversity and inclusion. For me personally, I will be hosting a round table of colleagues at all levels of the organisation to discuss any barriers to both attracting a diverse workforce to our company and for women to make the biggest possible impact they can in our organisation. The conversation will be focused on what we can do collectively to learn from our successes and remove any barriers that may exist.
As I mentioned similar conversations will occur across our business globally, at all levels during the week. It is only by having these conversations and challenging both ourselves and the status quo that we will make gender parity a reality. At Howden we #ChooseToChallenge
 HESA student records 2020: based on 2018/2019 data
 Skills Development Scotland “Modern Apprentices statistics 2018/19
 Working Futures 2014 to 2024 undertaken by Warwick Institute for Employment Studies for EngineeringUK.