BAE System’s Gender Balance Network is now one year old, so we spoke to the Founder of the network Mivy James, Head of Consulting NS at BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, Technical Consultant, for an update.
James said BAE Systems has been working on a number of initiatives to create an ecosystem designed to encourage a change in culture: “Formal channels, things like changing HR and job adverts, alone will not bring candidates. You are not changing the culture or retaining the staff that is already there. There needs to be an ecosystem of initiatives that all need to work in real tandem to bring about real change.”
“We recently had Laura Bates, from the Everyday Sexism Project, come in to give an overview. Those there didn’t just want to ask questions but to share their own experiences – it became a listening forum.
“About 100 people attended, but for those who didn’t the dialogue changed around the office. Many noticed ‘I am surrounded by white men” as they had never noticed. What now can I do to change things? We plan to run more internal events, with keynotes from directors and we are actively encouraging our staff to go to schools and become STEM ambassadors.”
James said the company is focusing on the need to “increase awareness.”
She explained: “We encourage our staff to focus on their conscious decisions to overcome unconscious biasness – pay, promotions, etc – are you only benefiting people who look like yourself?”
BAE Systems has developed a mentoring programme for employees to ensure its workforce feels supported and encoruaged to further their careers:
“We are creating a programme to match people as mentors and mentees. I’ve noticed a gender gap there in mentors. Finding a mentor that’s more like them will encourage more to sign up to the network and to champion the scheme.”
Employees who have the potential to become senior leaders are selected from each business and matched with a senior mentor who helps them identify development needs and provides career guidance. BAE Systems also recently introduced ‘speed-mentoring’ to bring together employees and managers
BAE Systems has a number of active employee network groups which supports their 88,000 employees working across six continents. BAE Systems featured in the 2016 UK Times Top 50 Employers for Women.
Last year BAE Systems announced that it met the aspiration set by the Davies Report, of 25 per cent female representation by 2015, a figure which the company continues to work on.
To further its diversity efforts the company has also developed a Board Diversity Charter and is revising its Nomination Committee’s Terms of Reference.