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Defence Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan launches Women in Defence Charter

The Women in Defence Charter has been launched today at Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) by the Minister for Defence Procurement Anne-Marie Trevelyan.

The Women in Defence Charter is a commitment to work together to build a more balanced enterprise. Signatories are committing to be the very best at driving inclusion and diversity within their organisations and providing opportunities for women to succeed at all levels.

The Charter is a collaboration between the Ministry of Defence, Women in Defence UK, ADS, Defence Growth Partnership, industry and others, and reflects the aspiration of the defence community to improve gender balance at all levels.

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The Charter:

  • commits organisations to supporting the progression of women in to senior roles in the defence sector by focusing on the executive pipeline and the mid-tier level
  • recognises the diversity of the sector and that organisations will have different starting points – each organisation should therefore set its own targets, where appropriate, and implement the right strategy them
  • requires organisations to publicly report on progress to deliver against any internal targets to support the transparency and accountability needed to drive change
  • aims to enable women to thrive, enhancing the individual and collective impact of women across defence and in doing so, improving the overall output of defence.

Defence Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan (above) said: “I am proud to announce that the MOD is signing up to the Women in Defence Charter. This demonstrates an upstanding commitment to diversity and equality across all aspects of defence.

“The MoD already employs amazing women, both in and out of uniform. As we set our sights on modernising defence, the Charter’s emphasis on building a fair and balanced defence enterprise is a not only something to support, but also an aspiration we are serious about achieving.”

Ruth Cairnie, Patron of the Women in Defence Charter and Chair of Babcock, said: “Experience shows that diverse teams mean better business decisions and more innovative solutions. This is particularly relevant in the UK defence sector, which thrives on collaboration as well as competition. Those who sign the Charter are committing themselves to actions which will make a huge difference, and our people, the sector and the country will reap the benefits.”

Sophie Thomas, Women in Defence Charter Industry Co-Chair and Zephyr Programme Manager at Airbus, said: “The Charter gives us a unique opportunity to harness the momentum that has been gathering across our society for gender balance, helping to build a working environment that is more balanced and fair for women, which will benefit the defence sector as a whole.”

Angela Owen, Women in Defence UK Co-Chair of the Charter said: “The Charter is about creating an environment that women want to join, where they feel they can thrive and where they want to stay. An environment that is better for women but better for men too. An environment of opportunity for all, that ultimately improves the output of UK defence.” 

Signatories of the Charter already include* the Ministry of Defence, defence trade body ADS, primes such as Airbus, BAE Systems, Leonardo, Lockheed Martin UK, Raytheon UK, Thales UK and SMEs including JJ Churchill and Oxley Group.

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Paul Everitt, ADS Chief Executive said: “Improving gender diversity in the UK’s defence industry is vital for our long-term success. The Women in Defence Charter is open to all companies committed to working towards gender balance.

“Women are an important in our businesses; encouraging and supporting their careers will maximise opportunities and I encourage all companies to sign the Women in Defence Charter.”

Charles Woodburn, Chief Executive of BAE Systems said: “Signing the Women in Defence Charter is an important element of BAE Systems’ drive to increase diversity and inclusion in our global business. Providing opportunities for all employees to thrive in the workplace regardless of their race, gender or background is a vital characteristic for successful and responsible businesses.”

Peter Ruddock, Chief Executive of Lockheed Martin UK said: “As an international organisation, creating a diverse and inclusive workforce for our current and perspective employees is a business imperative for Lockheed Martin. The underrepresentation of women in defence is a sector wide problem. It’s only through working together across industry and government that we can ensure that everyone has the same opportunities to play a role in keeping our country safe.”

Richard Daniel, Chief Executive and Managing Director, Raytheon UK: “The Women in Defence Charter is a recognition that this industry has much more to do when it comes to attracting, investing in and retaining women in defence. In 2018/19, Raytheon achieved a 50/50 gender balance in its graduate recruitment in the UK - a good first step for the future but we still have much more to do. Raytheon has a critical focus on Diversity and Inclusion across the whole of the organisation. The benefits of a more diverse and inclusive workplace will be tangible for both our organisation and our industry and I welcome the leadership being shown by the MOD on this critical issue.”

Sinead O'Donnell, Director Human Resources & Security, Raytheon UK and Executive Sponsor of Raytheon Women's Network: “The launch of the Women in Defence Charter is an important moment for the defence industry as a whole. The defence sector must redouble its efforts to create workplaces that are more balanced and representative. Raytheon applauds this bold call for the industry to recognise and invest in female talent, address gender balance and improve the number of women in senior roles across defence.”

Avril Jolliffe, Director – Strategic Business Development at Thales UK, said: “I am hugely pleased that Thales is one of the inaugural signatories of the Women in Defence Charter and personally to be a member of the steering board.

“Whilst individual companies often have ambitious targets for promoting women, the Charter gives us an opportunity to act as a sector and gets us all pulling in the same direction.

“I look forward to getting to work on delivering the aims of the Charter and seeing greater female representation across defence.”

Darren Cavan, Oxley Group CEO, said: “Oxley Group is proud to support the Women in Defence Charter, a powerful commitment to build a gender balanced community within our sector.  More than 50% of Oxley’s 200-strong workforce are women, the business actively promotes career opportunities with women holding key positions at every level of management within the company. 

“Oxley has consistently employed a high proportion of women since our inception in the 1940s and has always been an enthusiastic and committed supporter of gender balance initiatives, completing a wide variety of outreach work to encourage young women into defence careers.  Oxley is on track to double turnover in five years, it will be impossible to achieve that target without initiatives like the Women in Defence Charter to encourage more women to succeed within our industry.”

Katherine Bennett CBE, Vice President Airbus in the UK, said: “Airbus is proud to be a signatory to this Charter which echoes our commitment to building a balanced working environment.”
 

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