Corporate Risk Associates – one of the country’s largest independent safety and risk consultancies – is working hard to buck the trend of low female numbers joining STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)-centric industries with a commitment that means the business now boasts what it believes to be one of the highest ratios of female-to-male STEM graduates in the sector.
The business was founded in 2000 and specialises in managing risk across safety-critical industries including the nuclear, oil and gas, defence, power, process and transport sectors.
For CEO Jasbir Sidhu, the business prides itself on the fact that its first course of action from start-up was to look at how the company might actively encourage more women to choose safety and risk management as a career.
This plan has been combined with actively promoting the uptake of STEM subjects to undergraduates through university partnerships and internships with Imperial College London and Manchester University. Other partnerships are currently in development.
The provision of resources and training that has enabled staff to quickly and effectively progress through the business combined with the implementation of changes in the workplace duly providing greater flexibility for all members of staff have also contributed to the number of STEM employees joining Corporate Risk Associates.
Indeed, the push across all of these key areas appears to have paid off as 20% of the business’ headcount is now filled with female STEM employees.
Speaking about the company’s values, Sidhu explained: “The most recent set of figures¹ shows that only 13% of those individuals employed in STEM-focused occupations across the UK are women. While this figure has begun to creep up somewhat over the last few years, it’s nowhere near where it should be.”
Sidhu continued: “As a business, we’ve tried extremely hard right from the outset to make sure we work with universities in creating a pipeline to the workplace for more STEM graduates. Continuing to partner with universities and colleges across the country is vital for us in terms of making sure we continue to support bursary, intern and work opportunities for more STEM graduates.”
Comments from recent STEM appointees
Two recent STEM graduates to join the team at Corporate Risk Associates are Sophie Bold and Dr Eleanor Ramsden who, between them, hold two degrees, two Master’s qualifications and a PhD gained at Warwick, Imperial College London, York and Sheffield universities.
Speaking about her own appointment, Bold stated: “Working in this industry is challenging and there’s a lot to learn across some very complex business sectors, but I love that. I like the idea of working in an industry that’s growing and across safety-critical industries where risk and safety management are a prerequisite.”
Recently, Bold has been involved in a ‘Physics at Work Day’ organised by The Institute of Physics for Year 8 students at a London-based girls’ school. This involved running workshops for the students in order to open their minds to STEM subjects and the types of careers available in disciplines such as physics and engineering.
“We need to make science and engineering exciting, show how both these disciplines fit into everyday life and how, by taking these subjects, you can become part of an exciting industry that’s growing rapidly and where career opportunities really are limitless,” added Bold.
¹Based on a report for the Campaign for Science and Technology: Improving Diversity in STEM (May 2014)