News, Blog, Employment, Awards, Careers | Thursday 1st July 2021
Happy PRIDE month 2031?
PRIDE Month is an LBGT+ celebration and provides a great opportunity for employers to reflect on the broader issues of Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity.
Certainly, within the Fire & Security industry, we have some way to go, especially in engineering, before we can claim our workforce reflects society.
So, as we come to the end of PRIDE month 2021, will we be able to celebrate a truly representative workforce ten years from now? We can, but we need to lay the foundations now.
Here are a few of the questions I believe we need to address to make our incredible industry as diverse as it can be.
What are the invisible barriers to entry?
What we demand in job specs can raise barriers to entry, as can recruitment strategies.
For example, part-time or flexible hours are imperative for many dealing with children or looking out for elderly relatives.
So, by insisting on full-time participation, you’re instantly disqualifying a pool of potentially excellent candidates.
Post-pandemic, we’re seeing many companies reconsidering their attitude to flexible working. It’s a compelling offer that could unlock an exciting new talent pool.
How can we promote the industry to under-represented groups?
To solve looming talent shortages, we’ll have to train many more entry-level engineers and this presents the perfect opportunity to increase diversity.
But it won’t happen on its own.
As an industry we need to promote our technical careers actively to under-represented groups, by working with schools, attending careers fairs and working with communities.
Leading apprentice trainer, Skills For Security, is doing great work, for example by visiting schools with female security business leaders to promote career opportunities.
Female participation in the company’s apprenticeship schemes has risen into double figures as a result and they’ll be developing future role models for others to follow.
Certainly, one of the most powerful diversity messages we can give is to show ‘someone just like you’ doing the job. We should all reach out with good news stories.
How can we rethink training?
Fire & Security, certainly in its digital guise, is a relatively young industry. Technology is changing rapidly and so are the demands placed on engineers.
While industry experience may be essential for some roles, there’s a strong argument both for cross-training engineers from other sectors and for training a new generation.
See a previous article from my colleague, Priya Vencatasawmy, discussing the commercial benefits
The pushbacks to training have generally been cost, time and resources involved, and trainee retention, but Zitko Talent has addressed these.
Working with leading employers, manufacturers and educators, we’ve produced a 12-month programme of work experience, formal study and certified product training.
We’ve built equality, diversity and inclusion into the fabric with a sophisticated recruitment and selection process designed to identify the key qualities required for success.
As a result, we’re achieving encouraging diversity in our cohorts: people who’ve come through a tough selection process and are absolutely flying with their employers.
How can we satisfy customer expectations?
Fire & Security customers are increasingly asking about suppliers’ diversity performance during the tendering process.
If you regard this as a tick box exercise you’re underestimating the mood in the market, driven by the mood in wider society.
Companies that demonstrate they’re actively seeking to increase diversity with solid examples will undoubtedly gain an edge in winning contracts.
On the subject of society, the workplace is the ideal place to break down barriers and change attitudes. It’s our corporate social responsibility.
So, what of 2031?
For fair representation at senior company levels, we need to be attracting and developing those future leaders now.
Zitko Talent has precisely this aim and as our early trainee's progress, we’re building a solid business case for Train & Deploy in the Fire & Security industry.
I’m looking forward to seeing our trainee's careers develop in the coming years and their stories attracting many others from all sectors of our society.