A Chair’s Perspective
I, and the Board of Rolls-Royce, strongly support the work of the Hampton- Alexander Review. Diversity and Inclusion improve decision-making and enhance an organisation’s ability to attract, engage and retain talented people. They also strengthen culture and reduce the risk of silo behaviours.
At Rolls-Royce we have been taking initiatives to remove barriers, create and sustain an inclusive culture, and enable a more diverse workforce where different perspectives are respected and valued. This starts at the top with our Board setting an example and leading the way.
When I joined the Board of Rolls-Royce in 2013 there were 15 members on our board, only two of which were women – the late Dame Helen Alexander, who joined in 2007, followed in 2012 by Jasmin Staiblin who still serves on the board today.
In my first Chairman’s Statement the following year I noted:
“We can and need to do more to attract and, particularly, retain exceptional women. The engineering sector has not always been a favoured destination for well-qualified women and there may be cultural and historical reasons for this. For a Group like Rolls-Royce, this should be as much an opportunity as a problem. Purposeful diversity is an important part of our long-term planning.”
I am pleased to say in 2017 we have four women NEDs on our Board, in addition to Pamela Coles, our Company Secretary.
Our work within the company to date includes increasing the number of women and underrepresented groups in senior roles, although we recognise that we still have a way to go on this.
We are taking a holistic view of D&I, starting with recruitment. We are striving to reduce ‘unconscious bias’, for example in the interview process, and we have prioritised the development of a diverse talent pipeline.
This year we launched our Board Apprentice Programme, which gives senior manager participants, who are selected with diversity as well as talent in mind, the opportunity to gain Boardroom experience within Rolls-Royce and affiliated companies. This should help prepare them for future Executive and Non-Executive roles.
Our “Employee Champion” Non-executive Director, Irene Dorner, has been discussing diversity with employee Groups and relaying insights back to the Board and management. Our new Global Diversity and Inclusion Council will also help us progress our D&I agenda.