The Organisation

A power systems provider, designing, manufacturing and supporting a range of products and services for air, sea and land applications, Rolls-Royce is a global company providing highly-efficient integrated power and propulsion solutions. Its power systems are predominantly used in aerospace, marine, energy and off-highway applications.

Rolls-Royce is one of the world’s most famous brands. Its reputation for engineering excellence, developed over more than 110 years, is now augmented by providing high levels of service and performance. As a company, Rolls-Royce plc is committed to innovation and the continual pursuit of improvement in all aspects of its work.

It’s one of the world’s leading producers of aero engines for large civil aircraft and corporate jets. The company is also the second largest provider of defence aero engines in the world.

Rolls-Royce is well-established in the marine sector where it designs vessels and integrates power systems. It has a growing presence in civil nuclear power, drawing on its skills and experience of over 50 years in powering nuclear submarines. Its MTU brand is world-renowned in high-speed diesel engines powering applications as diverse as rail locomotives and luxury yachts.

It also supports its customers through a worldwide network of offices, manufacturing and service facilities.

Contrary to popular myth, it does not make motor cars. Vickers sold Rolls-Royce Motor Cars to Volkswagen in 1998, although BMW holds the rights to the name and the marque for use on Rolls-Royce cars, having acquired the rights from Rolls-Royce plc for £40m in 1998. BMW took over responsibility for Rolls-Royce cars from the beginning of 2003.

The Challenge

In the late 1990s, there was no mechanism in Rolls-Royce for single gender learning and development programmes for women. Moreover, there was a need for a safe training environment where women could benefit from mutual support and empathy.

At that time, many women in secretarial and administrative roles felt undervalued and lacking in support and opportunities. Positive female role models were few and far between and many women felt ‘stuck’ and isolated in terms of career advancement.

A small group of passionate female managers – together with some male advocates – had a vision to change things. Their research led them to the Springboard women’s development programme developed by The Springboard Consultancy (SBC). SBC is an international training company, specialising in work and personal development training – particularly addressing women’s development issues. SBC uses training to enable everyone, especially women, to develop themselves further – benefitting the person, their employer, family and wider community.

The Springboard women’s development programme enables women to identify the clear, practical and realistic steps that they want to take to make a better world for themselves at work and home, while building both the practical skills and the confidence to take these steps.

Among the group of Rolls-Royce managers was Eleanor Radbourne, who’s currently the company’s Head of Global Talent Management & Diversity and Inclusion.

“The Springboard programme is a good fit for Rolls-Royce,” said Eleanor. “It was pitched at non-management women whose careers had stalled and women who wanted development opportunities. The ability to run the programmes with up to 30 women means that large numbers of women have access to good quality development in a highly cost-effective way.

“The workbook element of the programme encouraged women to make a commitment to their own development and take personal responsibility,” she added. “The Springboard networking approach, in a confidential uplifting environment, mean that Rolls-Royce’s women employees no longer feel isolated – and they benefit from the experiences of other women and, in particular, the guest speakers.”

“Eleanor has always been a champion for women, and for the Springboard programme,” commented Jan Morris, of Ruby Tuesday Training. An experienced freelance – and licensed Springboard – trainer, Jan has delivered over 40 Springboard programmes for Rolls-Royce plc since 1997, encompassing some 1,000 women.

The Solution

Jan continued, “Through the work of Eleanor and her colleagues, I ran my first Rolls-Royce Springboard programme in September 1997.”

The majority of the Rolls-Royce Springboard programmes have been held in Derby. However, some of the programmes have been held in Bristol – another Rolls-Royce stronghold – and, on one occasion, in Scotland.

“Women from any of the company’s sites can attend and there are no restrictions or qualifying criteria other than self-nomination – and support from line management,” said Jan. “Rolls-Royce works around the world, so we’ve had women attend Springboard programmes from countries including France, Portugal and Canada.”

Over time, there has been a subtle but noticeable change in the participants who attend. Originally, the Springboard programme was ‘pitched’ at women in non-management grades, such as secretaries and support staff.

“These days,” Jan explained, “Participants come from all areas of Rolls-Royce including engineering, design, purchasing, finance, customer services and HR. Moreover, the participants include team leaders and supervisors, as well as some graduates from the company’s graduate training scheme.

“There’s now a great deal of diversity represented among Springboard participants – in terms of jobs performed, areas of the company represented, staff grades, nationalities and ethnicity.

“Rolls-Royce has now developed a strong learning culture that encourages everyone to seize opportunities and to work openly towards new goals,” continued Jan. “There’s a vibrant active women’s network and there are many more women in senior roles. Indeed, some of them, such as Natalie Hibberd, have been through the Springboard programme and, subsequently, have returned to the programme as inspiring speakers.”

The Results

Jan added, “Today’s ‘Springboarders’ accept accountability, take control of their career progression and are much more empowered. They believe that they can influence change.”

Feedback from the Springboard delegates over the years has been overwhelmingly positive. Among the comments from the Springboarders who completed the programme in June 2016 are:

“This course has been phenomenally good. I’m a far more interested, productive and integrated member of Rolls-Royce for having completed this course.”

“An amazing course. I would recommend it to any woman in the company.”

“This course was delivered perfectly. It was interactive, extremely motivating and enjoyable.”

“The best training course I’ve ever been on. It was fun, insightful, engaging and I can see how it makes a real difference at work and beyond. Jan’s a fantastic trainer, sensitive and open with real life experiences.”

“I’m happier at the end of the Springboard programme. Happy people are more productive at work, so we should all have the opportunity to do this.”

“The Springboard programme is a good fit for Rolls-Royce.”

Eleanor Radbourne, Rolls-Royce plc., Head of Global Talent Management & Diversity and Inclusion.

“This course has been phenomenally good. I’m a far more interested, productive and integrated member of Rolls-Royce for having completed this course.”

Unnamed delegate on a Rolls-Royce Springboard programme, June 2016

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