More than 500 business and public sector leaders gathered in London for the 15th annual Opportunity Now Awards ceremony which recognised UK employers that have demonstrated the most commitment to and innovation in creating workplaces where women can succeed and made addressing inequality a business imperative.
Opportunity Now is part of Business in the Community, a charity which mobilises business for good and empowers employers to accelerate change for women in the workplace because it makes good business sense.
The RAF were awarded the Inspiring the Workforce of the Future Award for the work it has done encouraging girls to consider a career in engineering.
15,000 children have participated in the RAF’s primary school roadshow and it has developed a week-long residential course for 14 to15-year-old girls to engage them in science, engineering and technology.
Squadron Leader Glynnis Dean, from RAF Cranwell, said:
We are absolutely delighted to win the award for our gender work, the prime objective of which is to improve female representation in technical trades and branches and also in the flying branch.
To do this requires us to engage with girls early in the education cycle [no later than age 13] to encourage them to continue with maths and science and to enthuse them about non-traditional careers.
In effect we show them that girls can do it too. Without the backing of the leadership and the commitment of RAF personnel on the ground, this work could not have been taken forward successfully. The team at RAF Cranwell have been afforded fantastic support and huge commitment from the recruitment field force and from DCAE [Defence College of Aeronautical Engineering] Cosford.
Alison Platt, the Chair of Opportunity Now, said:
Gender equality in the workplace is not a women’s issue, it is a business necessity. As the economy gathers strength, I believe the post-recession recovery relies on organisations prioritising their people, tapping into new talent and ensuring everyone is engaged, productive and motivated.
In fact, I think the recent recession gives us the perfect opportunity to put our current workplace practices under the microscope and challenge the status quo for the better. The organisations that have won an Opportunity Now Award have all clearly put gender issues on their business agenda.