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April 12, 2021

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IOSH taking ‘positive steps’ to address equality, diversity, and inclusion imbalance in the profession

In her recent SHP article, Why are there so few female Chartered Fellows in IOSH?, Claire Saunders raised some important points. Here, Vanessa Harwood-Whitcher, Director of Professional Services at IOSH, provides a response.

Vanessa Harwood-WhitcherIOSH acknowledges that the majority of our current Chartered Fellows are male, though the figures quoted are somewhat out of date. We have 63 female Fellows, which accounts for 12.8% of all Fellows.

Of course, it helps to recognise that Chartered Fellows are often at a very advanced stage of their careers in occupational safety and health – even retired – and, in the past, our profession was much more male-dominated than it is now.

In recent years, however, there has been a noticeable shift, with many more women coming into the profession and joining IOSH; something we are delighted to see. But we can’t presume this will naturally mean there will be a much higher percentage of female Chartered Fellows in the future, so we have much work to do in this area. That is why we are making sensible changes that more effectively address issues such as gender disparity in the Chartered and Chartered Fellow grades.

Some of this work is already underway. Our Future Leaders Community has more than 2,000 female members, meaning they are accessing support which can help them develop into senior OSH leaders of tomorrow.

Claire recognises this in her opinion piece, but she asserts that most female IOSH members are part of this community, meaning it may be many years before they are ready for Fellowship. This is inaccurate, since 80% of our 10,117 female members aren’t in this community.

Many are already at a more advanced point in their careers and have access to other member benefits which can direct them towards becoming Fellows, including our Mentoring scheme and our Career Hub.

Our new membership grades structure, highlighted as a concern by Claire but actually an important part of the solution, will also help people become Fellows by assessing candidates not only on their competency, seniority, experience, and influence, which can be evidenced in many ways, but also their conspicuous commitment to the OSH profession, either through volunteering or by other means.

We are confident this will enable people to be assessed in an even more equitable way from now on.

In addition, our next President Louise Hosking, who takes on the role in October, has identified equality, diversity, and inclusion – something she is very passionate about – as a primary theme for her year in office.

So, positive steps are being made to address this imbalance and we will continue to seek new opportunities to do so. As we look to the future, it is crucial our profession is as diverse and inclusive as possible and IOSH is fully committed to supporting this.

Click here to read Claire’s opinion piece in full.

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Dr Dominic Cooper
Dr Dominic Cooper
1 month ago

The unconstitutional (not voted on by members or Council) Grade Changes mentioned have been put on hold by the Privy Council. The Privy Council requires more process and Bylaw changes according to last weeks IOSH communication. Hopefully, IOSH will respect the membership enough this time around to give Council and all Chartered members the opportunity to actually vote on the proposed Grade Changes themselves (not just byelaw changes) as required by the Charter. Given the current hiatus, it is likely to be another year before any grade changes come into affect, if at all.

Nigel Dupree
Nigel Dupree
1 month ago

Pleased to note transparency and consultation a priority in addressing cultural changes across the institution supporting Accessibility and occupational health of members in line with ISO 45001 “Work Exposure Limits” to stressors other than just vegetable, mineral and chemical exposure adopting WCAG 2.1 and ISO 30071.1 DSE Colour Contrast Calibration to mitigate visual repetitive stress injuries due to over-exposure to sub-optimally calibrated DSE resulting in myopic and asthenopic adaptations.