Women in Tech

Call for more gender balanced leadership at FTSE Women Leaders Review panel event

At a panel discussion organised by the FTSE Women Leaders Review, the government-sponsored initiative focused on increasing women’s representation on boards and leadership teams, senior leaders from the engineering sector called for further advances in women in leadership in engineering to achieve greater gender balance at the top of the industry.

The event, which was held on 26 April 2023 and chaired by Lorna Cobbett, CEO UK of Citigate Dewe Rogerson, brought together Nimesh Patel, Co-Chair of the FTSE Women Leaders Review and CFO of Spirax-Sarco Engineering, Dame Louise Makin, Chair of Halma and Clare Scherrer, CFO of Smiths Group, to share their views on the progress that has been made in increasing the number of women in leadership roles across engineering and the challenges that remain in delivering gender equality at the top table. The event is one of a series of industry-focused panel discussions that the FTSE Women Leaders Review is staging to shine a light on the positive work that is underway in individual sectors and companies.

Sharing their observations, the speakers highlighted the significant progress that has been made over the last decade in reaching 40% representation of women on FTSE 350 boards but reflected on the importance of achieving the same level of representation in leadership roles, particularly in industries like engineering which have typically been male-dominated.

Nimesh Patel, Co-Chair of the FTSE Women Leaders Review and CFO of Spirax-Sarco Engineering, said: “The best business leaders are building diverse teams with a wide range of perspectives necessary to solve the issues we face in an increasingly complex world. But more than that, they also understand that driving for gender equality is simply the right thing. 

“When young people see more women leading businesses, it challenges stereotypes and ignites aspiration and self-belief. There is no shortage of capable women ready for an opportunity to lead business, both in our executive teams and in our Boardrooms. Our panel discussion demonstrates how the engineering sector is shaping its culture to both attract and retain them."

Dame Louise Makin, Chair of Halma, said: “Building diverse and inclusive teams is not just the right thing to do – it drives performance. Diverse teams innovate better to solve problems as well as identifying opportunities that non-diverse teams might miss, which is good for the bottom line and for society as a whole. “Having women in senior leadership positions helps challenge stereotypes, creates role models, and fosters aspiration. It is good to see the progress made over the decade on company boards and in senior roles. There is more to do, but the women in leadership roles today will serve as an inspiration for other women to reach for the top.”

Clare Scherrer, CFO of Smiths Group, said: “Our purpose at Smiths is to improve the world through smarter engineering.  And we are more ambitious and capable of solving the world’s toughest problems when we have diverse skills, experiences, and leadership styles sitting at the table. To power up the engineering sector’s collective goal to advance women in leadership roles, we need to invest in and lean into women who have potential to take on our top roles. 

“We can only do this by systematically and thoughtfully acting to attract, develop and challenge, and retain women at all stages of their careers. From engineering graduate programmes to top leadership roles, if we all act to ensure every woman reaches her full potential, I believe we can collectively make progress that is sustainable.”

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