Sharing in Growth and programme participant Oxley Group are among the first companies to sign the Women in Defence charter that seeks to create a more gender-balanced defence industry in the UK.
The Charter was launched at the Defence and Security Equipment International Exhibition 2019 in London (DSEI) where Oxley Group became a launch signatory.
Oxley is a leading designer and manufacturer of LED lighting, night vision products and electronic components that are used across worldwide defence platforms to enhance the capability of aircraft and vehicles, and safeguard personnel. The company’s product range includes EMC filters, LED indicator lamps and interconnect products; all designed for challenging military applications.
The Women in Defence Charter is an opportunity for the UK’s defence sector to make a powerful commitment to work together to build a more balanced community that is not only fairer for women but ultimately improves the defence sector and its output.
The Ministry of Defence, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Government Equalities Office have all welcomed the initiative. Organisations signing up to the Charter commit to being the very best at driving inclusion and diversity and providing fair opportunities for women to succeed.
Oxley Group is already a signatory to the Sharing in Growth-supported Women in Aviation and Aerospace Charter which supporters gender balance and opportunities for women in that sector. More than 50% of Oxley’s 200-strong workforce are women, and the company actively promotes career opportunities with women holding key positions at every level of management within the company, from the board of directors through department management and team leaders.
Group CEO Darren Cavan explains: “Oxley Group has for decades consistently employed a high proportion of women, and from the outset has been an enthusiastic and committed supporter of gender balance initiatives. We support and value all of our workforce, but we recognise that women face challenges within the traditionally male-dominated defence and aerospace sectors, and offer particular encouragement to women entering our industry and building careers within it.
“Our business is on track to double its turnover within a five year period and treble it within ten years. It will be impossible to achieve those targets without initiatives like the Women in Defence charter to encourage more women to succeed within our industry”
Hannah McGarry is just one example of how women can take advantage of career opportunities within the sectors. She left school and worked as a hairdresser before joining Oxley Group six years ago to work on product assembly.
Hannah started an engineering apprenticeship three years ago and with the company’s support she has completed levels 2,3 and BTEC in electrical engineering and technical support, retaken Maths, English and ICT GCSEs and completed further computer software courses. At present she is completing her final year HNC and hopes to start her HND in September.
Hannah explains: “When I left school I could not envisage creating a career within aerospace or defence – it simply was not on my radar, and there was very little information to demonstrate the exciting opportunities for women within engineering. That has to change and I am proud to be working within Oxley Group and to be part of the process to encourage more women to take up the challenge of building careers in defence and aerospace businesses.”