In this blog, IChemE Trustee Macsene Isles-Ahite shares her vision for ED&I in IChemE and across the chemical engineering community.
Diversity encompasses acceptance and respect. It means that each individual is unique and that there is a need to recognise our individual differences. These can be along the dimensions of age, sexuality, disability, race, religion, social background or gender.
It can be a very sensitive topic. On the political landscape there are issues around immigration and skills. At a more personal level, many people are conscious of the need to avoid discriminatory behavior and to avoid causing offence. Yes, it’s a tricky business, but I firmly believe that diversity is something that should underpin everything we do. And I am reminded of the quote attributed to the leading business thinker and author, Stephen R, Covey, who once remarked: “Strength lies in differences, not in similarities”.
During my career, I have encountered many senior figures from industry and academia. The overwhelming majority have shared my view that diversity is essential; not just because it fosters innovation and growth, but because it right.
Gender, culture, age, background and life experience bring different perspectives to the table, enriching us all in the process.
Today is International Women’s Day, and on this day we will focus on the achievements of women and the drive for equality. This year’s theme is ‘Make it happen’.
I believe, as I’m sure you do, that chemical engineers make it happen. I am proud that, relative to many other engineering disciplines, chemical engineering is a diverse profession, but I am also aware that there is more to be done.
As our population grows and the challenges facing humanity, and the planet, become more acute, who will be able to provide the answers?
Will it be politicians, accountants, teachers, lawyers, doctors, engineers or other professions we rely upon to make the world function efficiently?
The quick answer is that all professions will have a role, but, in my opinion, the solutions and catalysts for change will come from the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) community. I believe this will be the case whichever country you live in.
So what are the challenges – even before we get to issues like global health, ageing populations, food and water security, achieving low carbon economies, and much more?