Vodafone puts the focus on Women’s Workwear at the launch of new Centre of Excellence near Newbury headquarters!

Vodafone’s new Centre of Excellence features a ‘try before you order’ Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) station with our first women’s and maternity range. Vodafone has pledged to become the Best Employer for Women, and this huge leap forward is just one step in our campaign to put women at the heart of our Technology and Engineering functions.

As a technology communications company, Vodafone is always at the forefront of innovation and technology. To be at our best, we need our people to be at their best – and that means attracting and retaining a diverse workforce. Correctly fitting PPE for both men and women is absolutely vital to ensure the ongoing comfort and safety of our people. The recent WES campaign ‘PPE Clothing Survey – is your PPE fit for purpose?’ highlighted the shameful truth that the majority of PPE worn by the 600 women respondents was designed for men. Only a tiny 8% wore PPE designed for women.

Within Vodafone, the personal testimony from our own female engineers told the same story. “My PPE jacket was like a dress. It was so large and ill-fitting that it made me look ridiculous and may not have met essential safety requirements,” said a long-serving member of our Engineering Services. Additionally, it has recently been proven that there is a solid link between properly fitting PPE and long-term mental and physical health. Poorly fitting eye and ear protection can lead to long-term damage, increasing risk of poor health in middle and later life.

We decided to make correctly fitting PPE a real priority. Working with Arco, we are proud to be launching our first women’s PPE and maternity PPE range. At our new Centre of Excellence in Newbury, we have a set up a PPE try before you order station, where all our engineers can test and try on PPE before ordering. This is a real game-changer for all our engineers and will make a huge difference in the future.

But that’s not all we are doing to attract and retain women engineers. Last year we partnered with Women’s Engineering Society (WES) in time for International Women in Engineering Day. In August we launched our first Women in Engineering Network with our focus being to work on outreach programmes to encourage women into engineering, where they are currently only represented at 16.5%.

In the future, our Centre of Excellence will help women grow their engineering careers. We will be able to bring to life a day in the life of an engineer for everyone, and provide our engineers with the opportunity to upskill in their role in line with technical career pathways. The Centre of Excellence will support apprentices, existing employees and career returners progress their careers. The future is looking very positive for all our engineers!

We recently held a launch event for the Centre of Excellence. It was a brilliant day, supported by our trusted suppliers and partners: Arco, Traffi, 3M, Mascot, WWT, Women’s Engineering Society and the IET. With ITP also joining us as guests. It was a great opportunity to showcase the technical lab which our senior engineers have been working hard to build, our virtual lab, the PPE try before you order station. The space also offers storage, staging, meeting room and training space. Jemima our WES partner gave a brilliant talk about the benefits of becoming a WES partner.

If you’d like to collaborate with us or share best practice, please reach out to Rhiannon Brenton, Senior Manager, Operational Excellence, Managed Engineering Services. rhiannon.brenton@vodafone.com 

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