This International Women’s Day we explore what it means to
be a female employee at Luxfer Gas Cylinders and what equality and diversity advances
the company is making across its global sales and manufacturing sites.
Although the engineering and manufacturing sectors in which Luxfer operates are traditionally male dominated, we’re proud to champion equality and diversity.
Over the past three years we’re pleased to have increased our female workforce at our Luxfer Gas Cylinders Nottingham site by around 45%. Alongside this we’ve forged strong partnerships, with initiatives to improve our knowledge on how to embed equality, and we’ve led innovative internal programmes that support the future success of the company, while enriching our customer relationships.
We’ve also considered what it really means to be happy and content at work. This means understanding the challenges faced by all of our staff – particularly in light of COVID-19 – and why working for a company that has strong social values and ethics is so important.
Stop, collaborate and listen
At Luxfer, we take every opportunity to stop and take stock of our efforts, encourage collaborative practices and then learn from the feedback of our people and customers.
One recent example evidenced how we have nurtured a culture where knowledge, information and learning can be shared – regardless of gender, age, ethnicity or background.
A cross-functional and multi-gender taskforce of six experienced Luxfer employees were identified as change champions to lead a priority business project. Taking place over 10 months, the project was aligned with enrichyou’s Sustainable Business Leadership Development service, which empowers management teams to run long-term sustainable businesses.
The aim was to create functional change and provide a pathway to deliver against the company’s Customer Charter. The team surpassed its objective, crucially, whilst revealing a genuine care for the business and each another. Working together they exhibited empathy and support for colleagues throughout, demonstrating a shared commitment to the project in the face of lifestyle factors such as sickness, absence and childcare requirements.
Another example is a UK partnership between Luxfer and WISE, an independent community interest company that aims to achieve gender equality in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). Together, we are supporting diversity and inclusion through training modules, for instance, demonstrating how we want to retain and develop female team members, sponsoring female talent and increasing transparency of equal opportunities for progression.
Benefits that make a real difference
Our values – customer-first, integrity, innovation, accountability, personal development and teamwork – are more than just corporate terminology, they are fundamental to how we operate. And we know how vital these are for our workforce, with lack of team integration and inconsistent training and development opportunities cited as some of the reasons why women leave a role.
Other factors include burnout, working for a company that doesn’t share their values, inflexibility and work/life imbalance, plus poor communication between staff and managers.
We rigorously tackle these issues head on. In fact, amid a reported exodus of employees looking for new roles during the ‘Great Resignation’, our staff retention rates have remained consistently at 90%+ for the last two years.
We believe it is imperative to invest in our employees and encourage personal and professional development. Over the last few years, we have significantly increased resources and time allocated to employee training, recruitment, personal development, and retention.
We’re also committed to supporting our employees’ individual health, because we know that by doing so we can build a stronger and happier workforce.
In 2020 we launched a wellbeing strategy to support the physical, mental and financial health of employees, which included introducing mental health first aiders on site and an employee assistance program. In addition, the Luxfer Group’s family friendly policy allows for extended maternity leave and up to six months full pay.
In the US, we implemented a smoking cessation programme. Sponsored by Mayo Clinic, it allows employees to receive counselling and support online and apply for free nicotine patches and gum to aid with their transition. Those who successfully complete a 90-day smoking cessation programme are rewarded with discounted insurance rates.
Meanwhile in Nottingham, our recently unveiled Employee Healthy Lifestyle programme encourages staff to take steps towards improving their health. It offers reimbursements for gym and fitness centre memberships, plus we host on site physiotherapy sessions, and provide access to Perkbox benefits. Events include ‘Know Your Numbers’ sessions, to raise awareness of the importance of regularly monitoring blood pressure, and the health risks associated with high blood pressure.
Leading by example
With a legacy spanning 125 years, we’re privileged to always drive forward agendas that affect positive change and which our employees are proud to work on.
Our hydrogen systems, for example, are being used across the world, helping countries in the journey toward net zero emissions targets. Luxfer’s cylinders are being fitted within buses, trains, boats, trucks and tractors, providing a cleaner and greener alternative to diesel fuel.
Furthermore, over 15 million of our medical cylinders are in use worldwide, transforming healthcare across the globe to improve quality of life for people requiring ambulatory oxygen, thanks to our aluminium and composite cylinder being 30% lighter than alternatives on the market.
As a business we’re committed to significantly reducing our carbon footprint too, and we’re well on the way to meeting our 2025 targets of reducing waste to landfill by 20%, increasing recycled packaging by 15% and increasing material efficiency by 10%. Read our Environmental, Social and Governance report here.
We know that Luxfer leading initiatives that positively impact our world helps to inspire and retain our diverse workforce.
What our team had to say…
We asked some of our female team members about the barriers they’ve faced in their careers, what their best piece of career advice is, and whether they think their role is well-suited to people of either sex.
Grace, Project Engineer:
“The advice I’d give to anyone looking to develop a career in engineering is to find a company who produce work you can be proud of, find a team you enjoy working in and that encourages you to challenge yourself. Keep aiming to develop your technical knowledge. Also, make use of all the experience around you. Learn the names of, and speak to people, at all levels in the business. In a company like Luxfer where some have been employed for over 30 years, there is a huge wealth of knowledge. Be willing to go out of your way to learn from them.
“I think engineering is well suited to anyone who is creative, or likes problem solving, people who are interested in innovation and discovery. There is huge variety in opportunities and different job roles.”
Melanie, Alternative Fuel Operations Coordinator:
“I’ve recently qualified as a mental health first aider and I’m now part of a team of 19 mental health first aiders on our site. This team has almost a 50/50 split of males and females, which is great. It is brilliant a diverse group was formed, which hopefully allows everyone to feel comfortable to talk to at least one of us in time of need.
“I’m a great believer that careers are not gendered. My career is versatile and fulfilling, and it fits my traits and therefore makes it enjoyable to me. I work with customers, transport companies and liaise with colleagues internally to organise various processes, from order entry to production all the way to shipping the goods. I enjoy being in the middle of it all and the best part is seeing a positive end result that makes everyone happy.”
Emily, Sales Operations Analyst:
“Luxfer is the first step in my career, and I can honestly say I couldn’t have asked for a more welcoming team.
“I’d say to anyone looking for a career in manufacturing, go for it! You may find that you are in the minority, being a female in a manufacturing business, but I see that as a chance to stand out amongst the crowd and make an impact.”
Emily, Alternative Fuels Purchasing Manager:
“I think sometimes people can underestimate me because I am a young woman and I’ve found I’ve had to prove I belong, when males within this role haven’t faced the same pressure. I’m used to being the only woman in the room sometimes and so I have to be confident and speak up, so they hear my opinion.
“I think purchasing is well suited to both sexes. It involves being able to communicate well, have good attention to detail and shopping!”
Leanne, Inside Sales Manager:
“As a woman working in the STEM industry, we can face barriers on a regular basis. However, these barriers have been extinguished by having regular communication with colleagues, understanding internal processes, and having a mutual agreement on business needs. It certainly feels more challenging at times, as a woman in this industry, but hard work and persistence truly pays off.
Sales most certainly can be for both sexes, having more women visible in a sales role for this industry will adjust the ‘standard/expectation’ that it is a role for men.”
To find out more about the diverse career opportunities available at Luxfer Gas Cylinders, visit our careers pages at: https://www.luxfercylinders.com/careers