June 27 2006 - Openreach today launched Open2all, a major initiative to identify and address barriers to women joining BT as telecoms engineers. The aim of Open2all is to encourage more women to consider joining Openreach in an engineering role, thereby increasing the number of female engineers within the company.
Focus groups of male and female engineers in Openreach have identified recruitment, career progression, flexible working and facilities as some of the chief concerns of female colleagues. These key issues form the basis of a three-point plan that Openreach is implementing to boost the number of female engineers. This will focus on:
- Recruitment - tailored adverts and better use of channels and networks to ensure that recruitment advertising appeals to and reaches more women.
- Role definition - exploring the potential for increasing flexible working practices, job sharing, child-friendly hours and other work/life balance measures.
- Culture - altering the male-dominated environment associated with engineering to make the role more attractive to women.
This will be achieved by the continual promotion of diversity within Openreach and by highlighting the success of existing female engineers.
Andrew Jones, managing director, north and diversity champion, Openreach said:
"In many areas, Openreach has a significantly diverse workforce to be proud of - indeed, 40 per cent of our executive committee are women. We are keen to replicate this success in our engineering community. The Open2all initiative demonstrates our strong commitment to finding more ways to encourage more women to consider joining Openreach as an engineer.
Research shows that there is a huge business case for gender diversity - more women in the workforce can contribute to increased levels of innovation, creativity and productivity. Openreach's primary role is to serve communications providers' customers to the best of our ability, and a more representative workforce will allow us to do that."
Alison Williams, Openreach engineer, Liverpool, said:
"I love my job with Openreach, but there is still a long way to go to convince women that this career choice is open to them. The work is obviously technical, but full training is provided in your first weeks on the job. The job is full of challenges - working in field service fully utilizes your people and problem solving skills and this is why I find it so rewarding.
I'm pleased that the company is publicly committing to addressing the barriers to entry so that women can feel they are entering the job on a level playing field with men, in everything from career opportunities and pay to facilities and personal safety."