7 February 2024
Women in Health and Safety: How can you be what you can’t see?
Over the years, numerous studies have shown that diverse teams are more innovative; they are less likely to suffer bias, and more likely to understand their customers’ needs thanks to their different backgrounds and perspectives.
Over the years, numerous studies have shown that diverse teams are more innovative; they are less likely to suffer bias, and more likely to understand their customers’ needs thanks to their different backgrounds and perspectives. Improving business function is one facet of the importance of representation, but just as important is the fact that positive representation improves opportunities for future employees.
If you think back to when you were younger, and people would ask what you wanted to be when you grew up – a large percentage of us would have picked something that excited or inspired us, or something where we had a role model to look up to. But what about the things where we had no role model, no one we could look up to and see ourselves in?
Role models are a key part of the development when you are young, giving you someone to look up to or aspire to one day be like. But being inspired by other people’s successes doesn’t stop at childhood. If people are able to see themselves being represented at any time in their life, it opens doors for what they can do themselves.
Women in business
According to Business in the Community, as of summer 2023 women make up around 30% of senior management roles in business. And Health and Safety is no exception; SHP online states that as of February 2023, women make up 21% of the IOSH membership – a leading membership body for those in the Health and Safety sector.
There are many reasons and opinions on why Health and Safety is still considered a male driven profession, but representation is a clear component. It is undoubtably intimidating going into the world of work, whether that be fresh from education, a new direction in your career, or even progression within your own organisation. But it is even more daunting when you cannot see others like yourself in your peer group. And so, as with many things, we can become stuck in an endless cycle as a lack of representation discourages young women from joining the industry. But things are changing.
Sharing their stories
Many women in Health and Safety have taken to multiple platforms like LinkedIn and SHP Online to share their experiences, the opportunities they receive, and their views for a better future. As women in the industry – especially those in senior positions – use their social platforms to share their stories they will all in turn help inspire the next generation of Health and Safety professionals.
Networking platforms like LinkedIn are an excellent place to connect with other people in your industry and see the successes of those in your peer group. Groups like Safety Thirst host monthly networking events for women in Health and Safety to connect and share their ideas. Many industry sectors with a heavy Health and Safety presence are also setting up their own sector specific groups and award ceremonies, like the annual Women in Fire Safety Awards happening at the end of this month.
Recognition is the first step
Yes, many businesses are putting a focus on diversifying their teams. Yes, many of those are also putting measures in place to be mindful and adapt to the working requirements of these diverse teams. But is there also still a long way to go? Yes. Acknowledging that it’s harder for young people to be what they can’t see is one of the first steps. Now it’s up to businesses to pay attention to what they can do as an employer to encourage existing and new members of staff.
If you are interested in getting into Health and Safety from any background – this is the place to be. Follow our LinkedIn page for updates on new vacancies every week, or pick up the phone to speak to one of our specialist recruiters to talk through what you are looking for in your next role and how we can help you get there.