1. What does being a sponsor of WiDS mean to your organization?
WiDS is an important organization that not only promotes defence as a career destination for women but also provides a vital sense of community for those working in the sector. Studies have shown that having a diverse and inclusive workplace leads to better performance and results. BAE Systems has pledged to continue to provide a diverse workplace and it is therefore essential that organizations like WIDS continue the important work of supporting the current community and promoting the field to future generations.
2. Why is it important to support/promote the advancement of women in careers in the defence and security industry?
Every organization is a subset of the wider society and, as such, benefits by representing and reflecting that diversity. Our organizations need to include the perspectives and viewpoints of our communities to ensure we are making considered decisions and delivering the right outcomes.
3. What role do organizations like yours play in breaking down the barriers and cultivating an inclusive and diverse culture?
There is an historical systemic issue relating to the number of women in engineering roles within the industry. Traditionally girls do not take science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects at school and university to the same extent as men, which in turn sees reduced numbers applying for engineering or other STEM type job roles. This has created an imbalance here at BAE Systems and across the industry as a whole. That’s why we’re tackling the issue as a company and also partnering with other businesses and industry associations to tackle it systemically. We’ve developed programmes starting with education outreach work at school level through to encouraging women into entry level positions and supporting them throughout their careers. We are determined to redress the gender balance within our business by increasing the number of women in senior levels and attracting and retaining women throughout all levels of the business.
4. How have you and your team adapted to the changing world due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
The safety and wellbeing of our employees has been our number one priority throughout this challenging time. We rapidly incorporated new protocols and ways of working to ensure the safety for those on-site and we’ve worked to find ways to best accommodate those balancing childcare, or facing challenging personal circumstances. We’ve also leveraged some of our own innovation to protect our employees and contributed to national efforts for protective equipment. One of the most important aspects of adapting to this time has been a focus on the importance of what we do, and why we do it. Our industries are a critical part of ensuring our national security and supporting those who are at the forefront of defending our nations.
5. As a leader, what is some advice you would give to women entering this industry?
There has never been a better time to be a part of this community than now. The opportunities are diverse and exciting, connecting with the higher purpose of supporting those who serve is extremely compelling, and we, as industry leaders, are actively seeking to ensure our organizations are attractive to you. My advice would be to join communities like WiDS and forge those connections and networks that will serve to benefit you professionally and personally throughout your career.