This week’s Diversity in Action summit will shine a spotlight on engineering diversity, with keynote speakers including Australian of the Year Lieutenant General (Retd) David Morrison.

Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand President Elena Trout says the summit, to be held in Wellington on Friday, is designed to help industry leaders take action on diversity.

In New Zealand, only 13 per cent of engineers are women. Only 6 per cent are Māori, and only 2 per cent Pasifika. About 13 per cent are Asian.

“Diversity isn’t just about gender and it’s not just a female issue. Diversity is everybody’s issue. Having a diverse and inclusive workforce is good for business,” Ms Trout says.

According to global research by McKinsey, gender-diverse companies are 15 per cent more likely to perform better than average, while ethnically diverse companies are 35 per cent more likely.

“We need to make sure we’re tapping the whole pool of people who could be engineers, not just those who look like the engineers of the past,” Ms Trout says.

“New Zealand needs more engineers and we can’t afford to select from a limited talent pool.”

IPENZ research suggests there are a number of barriers to increasing diversity, including non-inclusive workplace cultures, a lack of challenging part-time or flexible work and gender pay gaps.

“IPENZ is proud to support and encourage a more diverse and inclusive engineering profession.

“We’re working with groups and firms throughout the industry to share best practise and provide useful tools for those who need help.”

Ms Trout announced at the Summit that all the assessors IPENZ employs in-house will receive unconscious bias training.

“The purpose of unconscious bias training is to develop awareness of biases that you don’t even know you have. It’s about creating a level playing field for everyone.”