IOR President, Graeme Fox FInstR, addressed members and guests at the IOR Annual Dinner, which took place in London on 23 February 2023. The speech was an opportunity to focus on the Institute’s past, current and future work to promote inclusion and diversity in the RACHP industry, whilst addressing its skill shortage challenges.

The IOR has been working actively to attract a more diverse workforce to the sector and the speech showcased IOR initiatives boosting the profile of RACHP to a wider audience including the Fantastic Fridges website. An online STEM resource for KS2, KS3 and KS4 children, the website will soon be expanded to include a section for 16- to 18-year-olds. Graeme Fox commented on the great work of IOR members who are also part of the STEM ambassadors’ scheme and how the IOR will further support them with new IOR STEM Ambassador kit bags. The recent partnership between STEMAZING and the IOR was also mentioned - thanks to the IOR President’s fund, three female members will be able to attend the STEMAZING Training Academy providing them with the resources to present exciting STEM sessions to school children.

The above campaigns along with other long-term initiatives such as the IOR’s Women in RACHP Network are making progress in improving awareness of diversity in the industry but much remains to be done as it is estimated that only 17/18% of the RACHP workforce is female and just 4% is from an ethnic minority. Graeme Fox reminded guests and members that there is also much to gain in promoting inclusivity and diversity A more diverse workforce in terms of gender, ethnicity or a more neuro-diverse one is more dynamic, has different viewpoints and perspectives from which to attempt to find solutions to problems as they might occur – so we do need to collectively work on improving our performance here.”

This led to the final part of his speech where he announced the participation of the IOR in the first-ever pan-industry gathering to address diversity and inclusivity with bigger-picture collective thinking. Organisations including the BESA, FETA, CIBSE, the Women’s Engineering Society, the Association of Black and Ethnic Minority Engineers (ABFE-UK), ASHRAE and the Black Professionals In Construction Network will take part with the aim to tackle this issue which has been a long term problem for the engineering sector.

Known as the original Fridge Dinner, the IOR Annual Dinner has been bringing together members and guests for the last 122 years to celebrate the RACHP industry and to support the IOR’s work in education and promoting industry standards.