Profile: a perspective on equality, diversity & inclusion

The drive to create greater inclusivity within the engineering sector is sometimes overlooked as professionals keep pace with the demands of new processes and the need to innovate.

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Awareness days serve as a timely reminder that a diverse range of voices will help enhance engineering practices across the board. International Men’s Day, while perhaps not the most obvious of equality and diversity markers, is an important part of that mix. This year, its focus is on highlighting positive role models, while seeking to improve relationships and promote gender equality not only for men but for women too.

Graduate schemes provide one opportunity to create those role models and offer up opportunities for men and women from a range of backgrounds to interact, work together and share experiences and learning. Done right, these graduate schemes can help to shape and demonstrate the mixed and diverse workforce that every organisation should aspire to.

Air Products
Toby Amott, Air Products

Toby Amott is a Plant Process Engineer at Air Products and has seen first-hand how hybrid ways of working are beginning to support the ambition of levelling the playing field. He said: “Graduates, and younger people, of a range of different backgrounds and experiences coming together can only be a positive thing. Graduate schemes provide a unique opportunity for engineers of the future to work together to enact change and drive further inclusivity for colleagues and peers”.

Toby’s route into engineering began by studying Mathematics, Chemistry and Physics at A-Level. He then went on to study Chemical Engineering at the University of Surrey, which ended in the completion of a master’s degree in 2019.

Between studying for his bachelor’s and master’s degree, Toby took time out to do a placement year with Air Products. This placement proved valuable to Toby as it allowed him to explore the role of a Process Engineer, working across core elements such as cryo distillation, air separation, equipment design and software skills. Upon finishing the placement year, Toby was offered a role on Air Products’ Graduate Scheme, of which he is now in his final year.

Amott notes the benefits of welcoming diverse perspectives to the conversation.

He said: “The graduate scheme is designed so that you can purposefully get lots of experience across different areas of the company. This means that when you come to the finishing the scheme and are looking for a permanent position within Air Products, you have a much better idea as to what you enjoy doing and what area you’d like your future career to go in.  You will have also built a network of people from whom you can seek guidance, as well as learning from and engaging with individuals that have unique insights and viewpoints to bring to a project.

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“Engineers of the future can enact change by gaining, improving and putting into practice “soft” skills. Building relationships with a diverse range of colleagues offers access to a wealth of knowledge and abilities. Together, we can accomplish far more than we can going it alone.

“Different perspectives really matter. Ultimately, as engineers we are solving problems and challenges impacting individuals from a range of backgrounds. Having a workforce that is representative is therefore really key. Graduate schemes have an opportunity to be the showcase for what workforces of the future could and should look like.”