Opinion

Diversity for installers

In the week that celebrated International Women’s Day, Karen Boswell OBE, MD of Baxi Heating, shared insightful views about a changing industry and increasing diversity amongst installers

Woman solar panel installer

We live in changing times, led by a reassessment of how we treat our planet and each other, increasing digitisation and the roll-back of globalisation towards national priorities. These ‘megatrends’, which have been accentuated and accelerated by the response to the pandemic, are incredibly relevant to the roles women take in the workplace and wider society.

We launched our ‘Sustainability Pledge’ in November 2020. We’re going to be carbon neutral in all our operations by 2030 and, by 2025, all heating and hot water systems we produce for our residential and commercial customers will work with low-carbon energy. We also aspire to create a diverse and inclusive workplace that supports equal opportunities were barriers, discrimination and intolerance have no place.

It’s very well documented that organisations which reflect the diversity of their customer bases and the communities in which they operate are more successful than those that don’t. Gender’s clearly a factor, but this extends to diversity and inclusivity in all of its forms.

What this means for a decades-old industry such as ours, is that it’s time to change the conversation and mindset; to open up vast potential for people from a variety of backgrounds to bring different and much-needed new skills.

Historically, the heating industry has been very starkly male-dominated. However, there’s a paucity of actual data about the role women do play today. Our starting point is to better understand what is our current state, before we can make the step changes our industry will require to successfully transition to the new forms of technology, services and energy on which our customers will depend in future.

And there’s no doubt that our industry’s future requires new skills, from people with different backgrounds and experiences. Smart digital controls and diagnostics, big data, hydrogen and heat pump technologies, heat as service and having better, richer conversations with our customers. These are just some of the areas in our decarbonising future where we’ll need to introduce new skills and to retrain existing expertise.

We’re also looking much further ahead. Encouraging girls at a young age to explore STEM subjects at school is critical to the future of technical and engineering-based roles. Baxi is pleased to be partnering with Primary Engineer, with which we will develop curriculum-based activities for primary age children in the north west, where our manufacturing facility is located, to engage them in STEM.

International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate all the achievements, all the progress, all the difference women have contributed to so many parts of society. But its ethos should flow through each and every day. Let’s shake it up, not ‘do things because we’ve always done them that way’ – look for new ways of doing things and shaping the future. Be not afraid to make a few waves!