When Emma-Louise Bennett joined Viessmann as a lead generation executive in 2019, she experienced what most newbies to the heating industry discover within a short space of time – not just the lack of women, but the lack of diversity in age, colour and background. A chance discussion with Viessmann managing director, Graham Russell in a virtual ‘open door’ meeting led Emma-Louise to learn about the Viessmann Women’s Influence Network (WIN), set up by Viessmann in Germany. Emma-Louise is now a firm member of the network, representing the UK.
WIN’s stated aim is to positively influence cultural change within the Viessmann Group, so that both women and men are perceived more in terms of their specific strengths. Refreshingly, men are also very welcome to be part of it. Initiatives have included networking events, a mentoring programme, improvements in childcare provision and information on maternity/paternity leave, as well as a seminar programme.
“My primary interest in being involved in the Women’s Influence Network at Viessmann is to encourage interest in the industry from as many different people as possible,” explains Emma-Louise. “The heating industry is currently suffering a severe skills shortage due to the low amount of quality training options available. Additionally, the Gas Safe Decade Review draws attention to an ageing workforce with the average age of gas fitters on the register being 55. This means that a large portion of the register will be retiring in the next 10 years.
“It’s therefore essential that the female recruitment market is tapped into to ensure the survival of the industry. Working in heating can be very well paid if you are in the right job and there is no physical reason why a woman can't be a heating engineer,” she continues.
“I am committed to making new connections in the industry, investigating what others are doing and seeing how Viessman can support. I want women to be aware of our free training courses that would be a step towards facilitating their installation business. I’d like to see how we can reach out to local schools, as children develop preconceptions about gender at a young age. I feel fully supported to do some great things, both by Viessmann in the UK and Germany. I’ve learnt so much about women’s experiences in different countries and cultures by being part of this network,” she concludes.
Emma-Louise and Viessmann celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8th 2021.