Recruitment of female staff in drainage industry roles continues to lag behind – but five key steps can help generate significant progress in welcoming more women into the industry, according to Lanes Group plc.
June 23rd marks International Women in Engineering Day (INWED), and Lanes Group is laying out a roadmap of industry-wide actions that need to be taken at all levels – from employers and staff members through to policymakers and educators – on how to improve female recruitment in the utilities sectors.
Currently, only 19% of employees in the energy and utilities sector are female, compared to a UK average of 48% across all trades . A recent survey carried out by Lanes showed that 58% of the British public believe men and women are not given the same chance to succeed in trade roles, while 82% would be surprised if their drainage engineer was a woman .
As one of the nation’s leading drainage and wastewater companies, Lanes Group recognises that more needs to be done to create a fully inclusive environment for women in utilities. As such, we have consulted with industry organisations such as the Womens Utilities Network (WUN) and the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) to identify steps that can be taken to bring this about.
Here is Lanes’ five-point plan for achieving gender parity in our industry:
- Schools and educators should encourage girls to consider utilities and engineering careers, and other jobs outside the stereotypical “female” roles. Businesses can support this by working with schools to highlight the various roles available.
- Policymakers and the government must emphasise the importance of engineering recruitment, putting more focus on design and technology in the national curriculum, and encouraging girls to explore these roles through the National Careers Service.
- Utilities employers must take steps to bring women into the workforce by creating more inclusive job adverts; eliminating pay disparities; offering more flexible working conditions; highlighting the presence of female role models and mentors; and generally fostering an inclusive working environment for everyone.
- Support organisations such as the WES and WUN should be recognised for the support, mentorship and careers advice they can offer to women to help them share learning and make a success of themselves in utilities sector careers.
- Female professionals considering a utilities role should feel confident in their abilities and simply go for it, knowing that they will be able to find a growing number of opportunities for a rewarding career in which they can really make a difference.
Debi Bell, Head of HR Services of Lanes Group, said: “On International Women in Engineering Day, it is vital to celebrate the achievements of all the female engineers who play such a crucial role in keeping our country running – include our many female colleagues employed at every level of Lanes Group, from the field to the boardroom.
“However, INWED also gives us an opportunity to lay the foundations of a better future for female professionals, particularly in terms of addressing the longstanding gender disparities that have always existed in trade roles. These inequalities cannot be solved overnight, and not without a concerted joint effort by everyone involved with the sector.
“We believe that our five-point plan can point the way to a future in which women engineers consistently receive the same opportunities as everyone else to build their skills, progress their careers and take on leadership roles. At Lanes Group, we are determined to be part of this positive change, which will deliver long-term benefits for workers and businesses alike.”
 According to data from the Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership
 According to Lanes Group’s 2022 Diversity in Hiring survey of 669 UK adults