How De Beers, Womeng Are Supporting Girls to Pursue Engineering and Technology Careers

9 Mar, 2022 16:00 IST|Sakshi Post

Partnership will play an important role as De Beers strives to achieve its commitment to engage 10,000 girls in STEM

Bangalore: This International Women’s Day, De Beers Group is proud to announce it has extended its partnership with WomEng for a further three years, expanding the reach to cover all four of the countries where De Beers discovers diamonds and placing a greater focus on supporting women and girls to pursue careers in sustainability-related fields.

The partnership will play an important role as De Beers strives to achieve its goal to engage 10,000 girls and women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) by 2030, as part of its wider Building Forever sustainability goals.

WomEng is a global, multi-award-winning social enterprise that helps engage and develop girls and women for the engineering and technology industries. The original three-year partnership focused on developing leadership, innovation, well-being, and employability skills for women and girls in Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa. Despite challenges presented by Covid-19, more than 2,200 students were reached by the end of 2021 through a Girling program for school girls and a Fellowship program for women studying engineering and technology degrees at university.

The three-year extension will see programs expanded beyond southern Africa to reach students in Canada and the UK, as well as beyond university courses to include vocational and skilled trades. There will also be a greater emphasis on future-focused sustainable development topics, such as renewable energies and climate solutions.

De Beers will also roll out WomEng’s Emerging Leader Programme within its own business to help support, retain and promote women in technical roles as it works towards achieving gender parity across its global workforce as part of its UN Women HeForShe Alliance commitment. In addition, De Beers will work with WomEng to support women-founded engineering and technology businesses in the company’s host countries that are focused on addressing critical sustainability challenges.

Katie Fergusson, Senior Vice President, Sustainable Impact, De Beers Group, said: “Women remain significantly under-represented in engineering and technology fields globally. We are delighted to be building on the success we have already achieved with WomEng, who has been an exceptional partner to work with as we seek to deliver our mutual goals. By extending our partnership, we will provide more talented women and girls access to opportunities, mentorship, and the confidence to pursue rewarding careers. We have an ambitious commitment to achieve gender parity across our global workforce by 2030 and the key to achieving this will be fostering greater diversity within the talent pipeline. With the programs offered being expanded to include an emphasis on sustainability-related fields, we’re working to build both a more equitable and sustainable future in alignment with our ambitious Building Forever goals.”

Naadiya Moosajee, Co-Founder, WomEng said: “We are ecstatic to continue building on the work we have done through our partnership with De Beers. It takes an ecosystem approach to support diversity, equity, and inclusion within the engineering industry and it’s incredible to work with a partner who understands this, and who supports us in developing women and girls for bright futures in the sector.”

PROGRESS ON BUILDING FOREVER COMMITMENTS RELATING TO GENDER EQUALITY

To mark International Women’s Day, De Beers is pleased to provide an update on progress to date as it strives to achieve its commitments relating to gender equality, announced in November 2020 as part of the company’s 12 Building Forever sustainability goals. The goals relating to gender equality are as follows:

Building Forever goal: By 2030, we will support 10,000 women entrepreneurs

De Beers will deliver this goal in part through the expansion and scaling of the AWOME (Accelerating Women-Owned Micro-Enterprises) program, which it has been implementing in Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa since 2018 in partnership with UN Women. Despite the challenges of various lockdowns, the program continued to support women to build their businesses throughout 2021, with more than 1,800 women micro-entrepreneurs having been reached to date. The focus during 2021 was on the immediate need to support businesses impacted by the pandemic and help them gain the necessary support. New offerings were also introduced, including a training course to support women as they look to start their businesses, new digital literacy training courses to enable entrepreneurs to thrive in a digital world, and tailored training for entrepreneurs in certain sectors, such as the appointment of an Agriculture Specialist to support more than 132 women farmers participating in the program in South Africa.

Building Forever goal: By 2030, we will achieve equal opportunity, including gender parity, for employees across our workforce

De Beers has had a deliberate and focused effort to improve inclusion and diversity across the business, including through the launch of reciprocal mentoring, a focus on talent development and succession planning, unconscious bias training, an Inclusion & Diversity steering group, and an all-employee education campaign. This has resulted in considerable progress, with the representation of women on De Beers Group’s Executive Committee increasing from zero percent in 2017 to 31 percent. In addition, the appointment rate of women to leadership roles is 41 percent, up from 22 percent in 2017. The representation of women overall within De Beers Group is 27 percent, with senior representation at 32 percent – up from 17 percent in 2017. Women in STEM-related roles are at 16 percent, with a target of 21 percent by 2025 and 30 percent by 2030[1].

Also Read: Vivek Pandey Appointed Simpl Vice President Engineering to Augment the Vertical

In 2021, De Beers announced a five-year extension to its global partnership with UN Women which also saw CEO, Bruce Cleaver, appointed a Champion of the HeForShe Alliance. The current focus of the partnership is on increasing the representation of women in technical and leadership roles across De Beers Group through enhancing talent development and succession programs and extending training and awareness.

In addition, De Beers launched ‘CountYourSelfIn’ to help improve understanding of workforce demographics and support employees in their home and work lives.  A ‘Recognising and Responding to Domestic Violence’ policy was also introduced to support colleagues who are survivors of domestic violence.

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