This year’s focus for International Women’s Day is ‘Embrace Equity’, with a call for the global community to understand the difference between equality and equity. The 2023 campaign message is underpinned by the belief that championing equity is fundamental for creating an inclusive world, one which challenges bias, perceptions and gender stereotypes.
How is Luxfer Gas Cylinders driving the focus for diversity and equality?
As a global manufacturer, Luxfer Gas Cylinders recognizes its responsibilities for creating and maintaining a work environment in which people are treated with dignity and respect. The organisation is committed to nurturing an inclusive, honest, diverse team, and is passionate that there is core strength within its employees.
Around 30% of Luxfer Group’s workforce is female and at Luxfer Gas Cylinders Europe in Nottingham, the number of female personnel has increased by around 45% in the previous three years (2019 – 2022). Meanwhile, the quality of data gathered on diversity is improving so the business can more effectively monitor how it performs in this area. By knowing where the company stands currently, it can know where the growth and development areas are.
Steps being taking across the company include:
- At Luxfer Group a Leadership Development Program has recently launched which supports the development of emerging talent in the organization; providing the framework, environment, and opportunity for individuals to develop within the Luxfer community.
- Talent acquisition teams and hiring managers undergo training to ensure that a diverse slate of candidates is considered for all job openings.
- All personnel are required to complete a variety of anti-harassment, non-discrimination, and unconscious bias training annually.
- Luxfer Gas Cylinders’ compensation philosophy aims to attract, retain, and motivate employees through incentive and benefit programs, which include family friendly policies.
- Full-time employees are offered opportunities to participate in the company’s various pension and retirement savings plans, fitness and wellness programs, healthy living incentives and mental health assistance.
- The company also offers advanced maternity leave, plus shared parental leave, to encourage an inclusive workforce.
While the industry acknowledges there is still work to do, significant change takes time. Luxfer will continue to focus on enhancing the policies and practices in place to improve the representation of women at all levels – and hold itself accountable for driving that progress.
To mark International Women’s Day 2023, four female employees at Luxfer Gas Cylinders are sharing their personal experiences around the topic of equity in the workplace, diversity in the manufacturing and engineering industry, and their careers at Luxfer.
Embracing equity in the workplace with career development
Luxfer Gas Cylinders holds personal development as one of their key organisational values and this is reflected globally. Office and professional staff members are supported with personal and career growth plans reviewed regularly throughout the year. Staff under skills matrix employment are also provided with regular appraisals and supported with training and development.
Lucy: “In Nottingham we have a local leaders team, which is made up of department heads and individuals in the business. As a member of this team, I feel that Luxfer Gas Cylinders recognises talent and performance, irrespective of gender, and they demonstrate this through growth and development opportunities.”
Emily: “I think it’s just a given that, regardless of your gender, your development opportunities are the same. That’s certainly how I’ve always felt at this company. Every predecessor in my sales and operations role has been male, as far as I’m aware, but I don’t think this matters – the focus is on your skills and willingness to learn”.
Grace: “At Luxfer Gas Cylinders it’s good to see that females are being recognised for their contribution and promoted within the organisation. And it’s nice to have more people on the management team that are female”
Mikayla: “I’ve come a long way, career-wise, after only seven months at Luxfer. It’s such a welcoming environment – I can openly express my opinions and share ideas for improvements, and I believe the team really listens.”
Embracing equity in the industry with STEM education
As leaders in the gas storage industry, Luxfer Gas Cylinders aims to develop a diverse and talented workforce, along with enhancing employment and recruitment practices to provide the most inclusive work environment possible. One of the key challenges faced across the engineering and manufacturing sector, is the limited diversity of the talent pool due to the traditional view of it being a male-dominant industry. Through STEM education, evolving female leaders in the industry and a consistent focus on diversity, we can grow and develop the talent pool.
Mikayla: “There’s a very strong sentiment that Luxfer wants to continue to develop the industry and that’s evidenced by the team working closely with schools to educate children on how rewarding STEM careers can be.
“In Calgary we have a team that volunteers at the Women in Need Society (WINS) too, which helps women get back on their feet by providing basic needs and resources, such as clothing for job interviews.”
Lucy: “There is definitely the external environment to consider. Even though statistics show limited females across STEM careers, I’ve found that Luxfer specifically is really future focussed and positive, and they will support you to build your career in the direction you want it to go.
“Generally, leadership in the gas industry is male dominated, but if we have more women advancing into the most senior roles, such as the CEOs of Hydrogen UK, UKHFCA and the BCGA, there will be a trickledown effect on individual companies.”
Grace: “In Canada, at our sister factory, my female colleague has been promoted recently, and there is a push for females into technical roles, which is good. For me, visibility is a huge thing. If you see people doing the job you think you want to do, it will help people consider it as a career path.
“A lot has changed since I was at school, when there were generally more males than females in my physics classes. In my school Engineering wasn’t really talked about as a possible career path; I only considered it because my dad was an engineer.”
“There is currently a shortage of engineers. Which means if you’re interested in maths and science you might be encouraged to consider engineering, regardless of your gender, and that’s really important.”
Emily: “I studied maths at university and there were more females on my course than males. And it was the same at sixth form when I was studying A Levels – my entire maths class was female, there wasn’t a single male.
“I feel incredibly lucky to have landed where I am because I came out of university without a career focus, until I found myself in this particular job, where I get to learn about all areas of the business. The opportunities are limitless.”
Embracing equity through culture and policy
Luxfer Gas Cylinders is committed to fostering an inclusive, honest, diverse team, and is passionate that Luxfer’s strength is in its employees. To achieve this the organisation has established a number of policies and training on this and our company values.
Lucy: “You’re introduced to a variety of company policies as part of your induction and there are monthly training sessions all employees are required to complete that help individuals identify any circumstances of inequality or concern.
“Our company values include integrity, accountability and teamwork, and in my experience, I think these values are genuinely shown by most members of staff – and demonstrated by our leadership team too. If someone wasn’t upholding those values, I feel that there is open communication for you to express that and have a conversation around it. There is a real sense of shared accountability.
Mikayla: “Working at Luxfer is really fulfilling. From a personal perspective, I love what Luxfer stands for – the greater goals of making the world a better place to live, they really care about what they do.”
Grace: “Six months into joining Luxfer Gas Cylinders my scope of work expanded and that was great for my development, because I had the chance to contribute to a wide range of projects, from installing a new machine to potential site development. It was a massive learning curve but it’s what I love – my role is interesting and varied. With our focus on alternative fuel, it’s an exciting time to be in this industry. It’s rare in terms of engineering to work on something that is so pioneering.”