19 Jul 2019
One of AJW Group’s four key business objectives is ‘to enable and support our people to make a difference through collaboration, accountability and trust’.
To support this objective, equal and fair treatment of all employees across the globe is paramount and we are committed to ongoing investment in diversity and inclusion activity. Yet, no single MRO company is immune to the wider issues currently facing the aviation industry, as explosive growth — particularly in Asia — drives demand for thousands of new, highly-skilled, and in many cases multi-lingual and commercially-minded, engineers, technicians, MRO specialists and executives. This demand cannot be met by one-half of the workforce alone, necessitating companies across the globe to commit to encouraging and enabling more women to enter the industry; improving the retention levels of female employees; and increasing the number of women in key leadership roles.
A key issue for aerospace and related industries is the low proportion of women gaining STEM qualifications. Statistics from 2018 from WISE (Women into Science and Engineering) showed that in the UK, 8,384 girls studied physics at A-Level compared to 29,422 boys; 1,211 girls studied computing A-Level compared to 9,075 boys; and 38,357 girls studied maths A-Level compared to 59,270 boys. In Singapore, statistics from the Ministry of Education show that women account for just 25-35 percent of the total intake for engineering and computing degrees. As a result, the global STEM workforce is dominated by men, with women accounting for less than 25 percent.
At AJW Group, we are seeking to inspire students from an early age to pursue a career in aerospace by working closely with schools, colleges, universities and families across the globe — from the Weald Community School and Sixth Form in Sussex, to the École Nationale d’aérotechnique in Montreal. We are further removing the need for prior aviation experience from a number of our job descriptions, to encourage more women to enter the industry.
There are signs of positive change; WISE predicts that 1 million women in the UK will be employed in core STEM occupations by 2020. However, the number of women occupying senior positions, especially in the aviation industry, remains low. A 2017 survey by Airline Business revealed that only 3 percent of airline CEOs globally are women, compared to 7 percent in the FTSE 100 at the time of the study.
Our focus at AJW is on identifying potential at an early stage, and ensuring talented employees of either sex are provided with every opportunity to develop their skillsets and progress to senior leadership positions. A key part of this is our company-wide flexible working policy, that is adapted to fit the needs of individuals. I myself have worked four days a week since joining AJW two years ago, and was promoted to director of people and development within six months.
Above all, it is important to recognise that there is always more we can do, as individuals, as a company and an industry. AJW is currently in the process of implementing unconscious bias training as part of our induction programme for all new employees, as well as for all existing staff. We are also supporting a number of employees at our headquarters in Slinfold, Sussex to launch an employee-led mentoring and networking programme for women across the company. Our maintenance and repair facility in Montreal, AJW Technique, has long been an active member of Women in Aerospace Canada, and this year AJW Group became the 100th signatory of the Women in Aviation and Aerospace Charter, a commitment by the UK’s aviation and aerospace sectors to build a more balanced and fair industry for women.
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