Amazon launches scheme to boost gender diversity

Amazon launches scheme to boost gender diversity

Amazon will launch a programme to boost gender diversity and inclusion across its UK business with plans to ramp up the recruitment and retention of women employees. 

The Amazon Amplify programme is a series of initiatives designed to further increase the number of women in technology and innovation roles across its UK business. Amazon said this new programme "builds on existing diversity-focused initiatives at the company, including programmes to ensure diverse interview panels and increase volumes of women applicants, affinity groups for women, LGBT+, BAME and disabled employees, and transgender guidelines for managers and employees to support transgender staff and their allies."

Last year, Amazon partnered with WISE (the campaign for gender balance in science, technology & engineering) to conduct research and help build a roadmap for companies across the UK to improve gender diversity, with the findings helping inform the new programme. WISE’s research, which polled over 1,000 women working in STEM, revealed a 10 per cent increase of women in STEM careers would lead to a £3bn boost for UK business, with women in innovation earning up to £11,000 a year more than in other careers. 

Amplify aims to encourage more women to consider careers in technology and innovation with initiatives including the Amazon Women in Innovation Bursary, providing funding of over £130,000 a year for up to 24 women students  to fulfil their ambitions of a career in innovation and technology, the Amazon degree apprenticeship programme, enabling people of all ages and backgrounds to train as engineers and business leaders and plans to open Amazon's doors with public tours and STEM workshops for children. 

The scheme will see Amazon launch a a return to work programme and a new UK-wide interactive training programme to support employees with building confidence and self-awareness, as well as displaying confidence to others; adapting to different environments; being an effective contributor; and managing internal and external stakeholders. Amazon will also sign the WISE Ten Steps Commitments. 

Fiona McDonnell, director, Consumer Retail, Amazon and chair of the cross-industry Women in Innovation Advisory Committee said: “Diversity fosters greater innovation and helps raise the bar for customers, and having a diverse workforce is also just the right thing to do. Our new Amazon Amplify plan aims to attract and retain the best and brightest talent in Britain, ensuring a positive environment in which they can thrive.”

Last year's WISE report found nine in 10 women innovators experienced some barriers to their innovation careers, with over a quarter (26%) experiencing more barriers than enablers, with six in 10 (66%) women working in the UK’s innovation economy having to overcome challenges on their own to succeed in their careers, with just 22% saying they had received support from their employers. The top three barriers women working in STEM careers across the UK identified were a lack of confidence (84%), having to adapt to a male dominated environment (75%), and a lack of recognition from senior management (72%).

WISE c.e.o.  Helen Wollaston said: “It’s concerning that lack of confidence came out as the biggest barrier faced by women working in innovation, but of course confidence develops as a result of support and encouragement. The report recommends specific actions for employers and universities to boost the contribution of women to innovation. If they follow Amazon’s lead by taking a proactive approach to build an inclusive culture where women and men from all backgrounds are confident being themselves, it will pay dividends.”
 
Earlier this year the Publishers Association’s workforce survey found an improvement in the number of women landing leadership roles in UK publishing, as well as a "high" representation of LGBT+ and disabled staff, but noted concerns around the scale of the challenge addressing BAME representation.