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Introducing WE Power – Women Engineers of BSH

Introducing WE Power – Women Engineers of BSH

Reading time for this article: 8 minutes

In 2021, BSH Turkey launched the WE Power Internship Program, an online event to empower female engineering students and support diversity in the workplace, particularly in core engineering areas where female representation is relatively low. The full-day event attracted over 5000 applications and provided 100 attendees from 17 universities with interactive workshops and informative speeches. We talked with the project lead, Sinem Bitik, about the program’s initiation, its success, and the next steps that are planned for fostering gender diversity at BSH.

In 2021, you participated in the WE Power Internship Program and had a crucial role in its development. Could you explain your role in the project, what were your responsibilities? 

Before defining my responsibilities, I wish to sum up the scope of this project. We wanted to implement a goal-driven project with observable outcomes in diversity. Our review of data across Turkey revealed a significant imbalance in the number of male and female employees in the field of engineering. Therefore, we initiated this project to increase the number of women engineers at BSH and raise awareness across the society to drive equality. To answer your question, my key responsibility was to lead the project. My team and I, we are responsible for all project stages from design to implementation and ensuring sustainability. Besides, I can proudly say that WE Power is the first in-depth project to address the issue of women engineers so comprehensively, given some other projects in Turkey in the realm of social equality.

“We believe that success arises with the unity of differences” was the slogan of WE Power project. What does the slogan mean to you, personally?

I imagine different perspectives on events as a whole will make an organization more successful and stronger. Every individual has their strengths and development areas; so even if we are not perfect individually, I believe the combination of different strengths across the organization will take the whole to excellence. 

This is what this motto means to me personally.

Could you introduce the WE Power Internship Program and what it is all about? 

The WE Power is a project where we emphasize occupations are gender-neutral and where we leverage this perspective to promote women engineers by raising awareness in male-dominated core engineering industries particularly. We devised this project to enroll more women engineers, very small in number, and assign them to permanent roles across our organization by developing a female workforce through various mentoring and training programs. At BSH, we believe occupations are genderless and support female engineers throughout their journey to build a career.

Gender equality is a fundamental value at BSH and an important aspect of the WE Power Internship Program. Do you have advice on how to foster more gender equality in the tech industry (of the future)?

As I see it, the efforts of organizations to conceive such projects are paramount in driving change in society. The gender issue emerges when selecting your specialization at college, with a minimum number of women enrolled in core engineering programs including mechanical engineering, electrical and electronic engineering, etc. Therefore, if enterprises promote these projects and create a cultural change across the community, such prejudices involving occupations might be expelled. 

What were the core challenges of the WE Power Internship Program in 2021?

When launching the project in 2021 for the first time, communication was our biggest challenge as this was a gender-driven external internship program. While we had our reasons to execute this project and carried out detailed work when concentrating on diversity and balance, people might have thought we were discriminating based on gender. So, it was our biggest challenge to manage this perception outside the organization.

One of the central goals of the WE Power Internship Program was to increase awareness among the younger generation. How did you go about that? 

We had many ways in hand to raise such awareness. We promoted our projects through participation in events held in colleges.

We did well in this thanks to our communications in top social media channels of young people, through videos, with support from women engineers across our organization and speeches.

Can you explain how the application process and the interviews with the applicants worked?

We announced the program through LinkedIn and Turkish recruitment portals and designed a campus communication plan for colleges. We screened some 5000 applicants based on certain criteria and forwarded a video interview to the remaining 1500 candidate students. While we mainly posed them general questions as part of these interviews, we also inquired their perspective on diversity and inclusion to help us make an assessment on the basis of answers provided. Candidates went through aptitude tests and subsequent HR interviews, as a result of which qualified ones were accepted to departmental interviews.

How was your experience on ‘The Big Day’ of the WE Power Internship Program? Can you tell us something about the different panels and topics of the online event?

First of all, it was a great event with minute details carefully contemplated on and contribution of esteemed guests.

Silke Maurer joined us to share her experiences with our female engineer candidates. Her inspiring inauguration speech was followed by many interactive activities and panels. While we created an interactive environment enriched with ideas from students, we also held an event elaborated with the experiences shared by our participants.

We leveraged our panels to discuss diversity an inclusion, innovation, and customer-centricity, all among our areas of focus. This event primarily concentrated on breaking down unconscious prejudices around the place of female engineers in professional life, and diversity.

Do you want to share a special moment that you remember of the day? Was there a personal highlight you would like to share?

At the end of the event, we had a session where all participants shared their own experiences, and we discussed unconscious bias in the society against women, in particular, who tried to assert their presence in engineering, starting from their choice of a college program. The examples given were very striking as much as real. Sharing these experiences with 100 female engineering students created a unique synergy. To me, it was a very special moment listening to real stories from those who actually experienced them and witnessing these moments as it made us feel we, as BSH, were carrying out such a valuable project for the society.

60% of the project students were recruited in core engineering roles in 2021. What were the next steps after the recruitment phase of the WE Power project?

After hiring female engineers as project students, we provided them with mentoring support. The next step will be assigning them to positions that motivate them as tracked by their performance. Another step will be to promote diversity across the organization.

Do you have any wishes for the next WE Power project?

My greatest aspiration for the foreseeable future is to make this project sustainable and achieve its objectives. This year, we will also be launching the Women in Sales program for the first time under the same brand. We aim to extend this objective-driven project to all other areas as needed. 

In the long run, the greatest achievement of this initiative would be a world where projects like the WE Power are no longer needed and unconscious biases are not an issue anymore. 

 

 

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BSH Hausgeräte GmbH, with a total turnover of some EUR 15.6 billion and 62,000 employees in 2022, is a global leader in the home appliance industry. The company’s brand portfolio includes eleven well-known appliance brands like Bosch, Siemens, Gaggenau and Neff as well as the ecosystem brand Home Connect and service brands like Kitchen Stories. BSH produces at 40 factories and is represented in some 50 countries. BSH is a Bosch Group company.