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EqualEngineers Networks Conference 2024: A Milestone in Promoting Inclusion and Diversity

On Friday, 14th June, we marked a significant milestone with the inaugural EqualEngineers Networks Conference. This event was more than just a gathering; it was a testament to the passion and dedication of our community. The conference brought together five pivotal networks within EqualEngineers, each focused on fostering a more inclusive and diverse engineering sector. Here, we provide a detailed recap of this inspiring event, highlighting the key moments and takeaways. 

  

Celebrating Our Networks 

The heart of the conference was the presentation and participation of our five key networks:   

  • Disability Network: Despite not being physically present, Gemma Bailey-Smith made a significant impact by joining us remotely. Her insights and experiences provided valuable perspectives on the challenges and opportunities for disabled engineers.  
  • InterEngineering: Represented by Patrick Murray Whitham and Fiona Connor, this network continues to advocate for the LGBT+ community within engineering. Their presence and contributions highlighted the ongoing efforts to ensure a welcoming environment for all.  
  • Menopause Network: Led by founder Fayon Dixon, alongside Dr. Pooh Ling E and Morgan Norcross, this network addresses a crucial but often overlooked aspect of workplace diversity. Their discussions on supporting individuals experiencing menopause were both enlightening and empowering.   
  • Neurodiversity Network: Noor Mawas and Martin Griffin brought forward the unique strengths and challenges faced by neurodiverse individuals in engineering. Their workshops and talks underscored the importance of recognising and leveraging neurodiversity in the workplace. 
  • REACH Network: Tyler Simmonite and Ash Kala represented this network focused on racial and ethnic diversity. Their efforts aim to bridge gaps and create more opportunities for underrepresented groups in engineering. 

  

A special mention goes to Chris Hamlin, co-chair of the upcoming Men’s Network, whose participation added to the richness of the event. We eagerly anticipate the official launch of this network soon.  

 

Keynote by Dr. Mark McBride-Wright MBE 

The conference featured a powerful keynote by our founder and CEO, Dr. Mark McBride-Wright MBE. His speech set the tone for the day, focusing on the core values of EqualEngineers and our collective vision for the future. Dr. McBride-Wright also introduced his new book, *The SAFE Leader*, along with the accompanying training programme. This initiative aims to cultivate leaders who can foster safe, inclusive, and diverse environments within their organisations. His address was not just inspirational but also a call to action for all attendees to embrace the principles of SAFE leadership.  

 

Engaging Workshops and Interactive Sessions 

The core of the conference was its series of workshops and interactive sessions led by the co-chairs and team members of our networks. These sessions were designed to provide practical tools and strategies for creating SAFE Leaders within organisations.  

Workshops Highlights: 

  • Disability Inclusion: Gemma Bailey-Smith’s remote workshop focused on accessibility and practical measures to support disabled employees. 
  • LGBT+ Advocacy: InterEngineering’s sessions, led by Patrick and Fiona, provided insights into creating inclusive policies and support systems for LGBT+ engineers. 
  • Menopause Awareness: Fayon Dixon, along with Dr. Pooh Ling E and Morgan Norcross, conducted a workshop on understanding and supporting colleagues experiencing menopause. 
  • Neurodiversity Strategies: Noor Mawas and Martin Griffin shared best practices for accommodating neurodiverse individuals and harnessing their unique skills. 
  • Race & Ethnicity Equity: Tyler Simmonite and Ash Kala’s session on racial equity emphasised the importance of diversity training and mentorship programmes.

Each workshop was a blend of theoretical knowledge and practical advice, ensuring that participants left with actionable insights to implement in their own workplaces.   

 

Dynamic Panel Discussion 

The culmination of the conference was a dynamic panel discussion led by Greg Turner-Smart from Rolls-Royce SMR, Dr. Mark McBride-Wright MBE, and Chinwe Odili from ECITB. This discussion centred around driving change within organisations and the broader engineering sector. The panellists shared their personal experiences, challenges, and successes in promoting diversity and inclusion. They emphasised the need for continuous effort, collaboration, and leadership to achieve meaningful change. The panel was a fitting conclusion to a day filled with learning, inspiration, and commitment to making the engineering world a more inclusive place.  

 

Gratitude to Our Sponsors and Partners  

None of this would have been possible without the generous support of our premium sponsor Rolls-Royce SMR and our partnership with the Engineering Council. Their belief in our vision and mission has been instrumental in the success of this conference. We extend our heartfelt thanks to them for their unwavering support. 

 

Join the Conversation 

The EqualEngineers Networks Conference was a significant step towards fostering a more inclusive and diverse engineering sector. We are incredibly grateful to all who participated and contributed to the success of this event. Your passion and dedication are what drive our mission forward. We invite you to share your thoughts and experiences from the conference. How has the event inspired you? What steps are you taking to promote diversity and inclusion in your organisation?

Thank you for being a part of this journey. We look forward to your continued support and participation in our future events. 

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