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GSK Ulverston manager wins award for increasing numbers of female apprentices

Terry Sandham (GSK Ulverston Apprentice Programme Manager) presented with the WISE Man Award by HRH The Princess Royal

[A] manager at GSK Ulverston has received a prestigious ‘man of the year’ award from Women in Science and Engineering (WISE), a national campaign for gender balance in science, engineering and technology.

Terry Sandham, Apprentice Programme Manager, at GSK Ulverston won the award for his success in promoting gender balance in the company’s apprenticeship programme.

He was presented with the award by the Patron of WISE, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, at a glittering ceremony in London attended by over 400 guests.

WISE say the WISE Man Award is for “men who are agents of change improving gender balance in their organisation and beyond, and whose actions go beyond their day job and which have delivered results.”

The judges said Terry stood out “because of his passionate and tailored approach to increasing gender diversity in addition to enhancing his local community.”

When the apprenticeship programme started at GSK Ulverston in 2011, no women applied for the jobs, which was not unusual in the sector.

This year, 43% of the GSK Ulverston apprentices are women, as opposed to the UK average of 7.6% in engineering and manufacturing technologies.

Terry’s success with the programme has led to his expertise being shared across other GSK sites, both in the UK and abroad.

Terry Sandham says: “I am really pleased to have won this award. I was also very surprised because the people I was up against were a CEO and a Vice President of two large organisations – while I work on the ‘shop floor’.

“Recruiting more female apprentices has been really important to me for a long time. It makes good business sense to recruit the absolute best – and you can’t do that if not enough women are applying for your jobs.

“Our female apprentices are fantastic. They are hardworking, intelligent, able and enthusiastic. They bring a huge amount to the company, and are important for its future. They are also great role models for young women considering a career in the sector.”

To improve the gender balance among the GSK apprentices Terry first investigated why women were not applying for the programme. He found the main problems were that that women were put off by a lack of female role models, and that apprenticeships were not seen as a suitable career option for women.

He also discovered that parents were reluctant for their daughters to work in the traditionally male professions of engineering and manufacturing.

To address these issues, Terry encouraged female apprentices at GSK Ulverston to become STEM ambassadors – role models, who visit schools, colleges and careers events sharing their experiences and enthusiasm of working in jobs related to science, technology, engineering and maths with children, teachers and careers advisors.

Terry developed a targeted promotional campaign aimed at parents, highlighting the professional and financial advantage of apprenticeships, and giving them opportunities to talk to female apprentices about their experiences working at GSK.

He also ensured that promotional literature featured both male and female workers and was written in a gender-neutral way.

Female apprentices are also very visible though the community work which the GSK Ulverston apprentices carry out. Recently the apprentices went into local schools and colleges with an asthma awareness campaign aimed at young people, for which they won the Brathay Apprentice Challenge. They also carried out a garden makeover for a wheelchair bound youngster.

At GSK Ulverston, Terry also ensured that all apprentices have a specifically trained manager, a mentor and an older apprentice buddy.

Terry says: “The GSK apprentices have been the best people to promote the programme and STEM careers. Sending mixed gender groups into schools for careers events and the community for charity work reinforces the message that our workforce is a mixed gender environment and that women have a vital role to play in STEM careers.”

Phil Wilson, GSK Ulverston’s Site Director, said: “We are delighted that Terry has been singled-out for greatly deserved recognition with this prestigious national award from Women in Science and Engineering. When Terry saw the missed opportunity for women to enter into science and engineering careers via our apprenticeships scheme he made it his mission to do something about it and the results have been outstanding.”

Natalie Woodford, SVP Human Resources, Global Manufacturing & Supply, explained: “Research shows us that diversity in the workforce drives performance and makes our teams stronger, but it doesn’t happen without forethought and commitment.

“It’s not just about hiring decisions; it’s about proactively creating an inclusive environment where our people feel respected for who they are and feel they have the opportunity to develop. For these reasons, Terry is a great role model for line managers across GMS and GSK.”

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