Culture+, a self-help tool for engineering startups and scaleups

As part of its drive to support diversity and inclusion across the profession, the Royal Academy of Engineering has launched Culture+ (‘Culture Plus'), an online interactive platform specifically designed for small and medium-sized engineering businesses.

The resource will help growing companies to embed equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) into their workplace to help attract and retain talent and support long-term business success.

For small engineering businesses, the process of recruiting and retaining employees with the right capabilities and skills can seem difficult and time consuming, particularly when every minute and every penny counts. Culture+ responds to this context and seeks to ensure that the principles of EDI are not overlooked or deprioritised. Evidence shows that effective EDI practices can be directly linked to commercial success, supporting effective talent sourcing, employee wellbeing and retention, greater problem-solving capacity within teams, and more inclusive outputs.

Culture+ provides access to practical tools, resources, and expert advice to help engineering startups and scaleups embed EDI best practice and monitor their progress while ensuring accountability. As well as helping employers with practical guidance, Culture+ provides resources to support individual employees to evaluate their own behaviours and provide feedback, to help build everyday habits that are essential for inclusive cultures.

Culture+ was born out of Academy research carried out in 2019 that identified several barriers to the implementation of inclusive hiring policies in engineering startups and scaleups. These barriers included a lack of understanding of the commercial value of EDI, how to implement it, and lack of time or staff to dedicate towards it. There were no existing EDI resources tailored to the needs of startup leaders and employees to help overcome these barriers.

The Academy funded The Honeycomb Works – itself a small business – to develop the online platform Culture+ to remove these barriers. Culture+ was piloted with 14 companies and will continue to grow and develop its offering as the number of companies signing up as long-term partners increases. The Academy is supporting this process by paying the first year’s licence fee for any of its Enterprise Hub Members who sign up to the Culture+ platform.

Dr Hayaatun Sillem, CEO of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said: “The Academy is committed to supporting engineering organisations in fostering the inclusive cultures that evidence shows can enable business success.

“Startups, scaleups, and SMEs play a vital role in the UK economy. Research has shown that existing EDI tools have a mixed record of impact and are not adequately tailored to these small and micro businesses, and we know that there is demand for better practical support from this under-served community.

“With evidence-based initiatives such as Culture+ we hope to contribute to a future in which startups and scaleups can drive progress towards an inclusive economy that works for everyone.”

The public launch of Culture+ coincides with a conference ‘Pathways to inclusive innovation: Building cultures and practice’, hosted by the Academy. The event will bring together small- and medium-sized organisations to explore pathways to inclusive innovation.

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Royal Academy of Engineering

Harnessing the power of engineering and technology to build a sustainable society and an inclusive economy that works for everyone.

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