Airmaster, the Rotherham-based air conditioning and industrial refrigeration company, has made a significant commitment to championing diversity and equity by signing up to the Made in Group inclusion pledge. As an employee-owned company, Airmaster believes in the power of inclusivity and has taken this step to further strengthen their dedication to diversity within their workforce. By joining this initiative, Airmaster aims to inspire other businesses to prioritise diversity and promote a more inclusive society.
Airmaster, the heating, cooling, ventilation specialist, was established in 1992. The company has a turnover in excess of £9m and works all over the UK on commercial properties, from doctors and dentists’ surgeries to laboratories, and from hospitality, retail and leisure to commercial premises, warehousing and factories.
In 2021, the founders and directors oversaw the transition from traditionally-owned business to employee ownership trust, a move to reward the staff for their commitment to the company. The employee-owned business model further demonstrates Airmaster’s commitment to fostering diversity and equality.
When considering the difference employee ownership will have a direct impact on inclusion within the business, Lisa takes a pragmatic approach: “In our industry, we’re working primarily in construction and we’re manufacturing on site. Construction, manufacturing and engineering are male-dominated spaces at the moment. It needs a bit more traction but I’m optimistic it is starting to change.”
A business decision but also a human decision
Lisa explains that signing up to Made in Group’s inclusion pledge is about ensuring everyone feels valued at Airmaster: “Our main issue is getting the right staff doing the right jobs and retaining that talent. For me, the number one thing is making sure everybody's happy with where they work. It's not just about gender or ethnicity or age, it's about attracting people and creating a culture where they feel valued for themselves and where they feel they belong.
“I got involved in this agenda about 12 years ago. I had a baby late and, when I came back to work, I struggled with confidence. I realised that I wasn’t alone in the feeling this way though, with so many people coming back into the workplace for whatever reason, whether it was that they'd been ill or had a baby or something else. There are people who have struggled with mental health for many years, this is not a new thing. And it’s not just women either.
“That’s what really focused me on this agenda and how you get those people back into the workforce, especially when you've got a limited workforce as it is. So, it is a business decision, but it's also a human decision, to try and encourage people forward and get them into the right job.”
Lisa is also an advocate for neurodiverse talent too. “In my world, engineers have always been brilliant problem solvers and you can find that there can be an occasional crossover with people who may have neurodiverse tendencies. For me, that is something to celebrate. Whereas some education providers used to advise students to hide an ADD or ADHD diagnosis from potential employers, now they are actively encouraging them to share it, which is massive progress.
“Sadly though, neurodiverse girls are still less likely to be recognised or spotted at an early stage so, as a result, they are less likely to be able to access diagnostic pathways. I’m hoping this is starting to be addressed by the system.”
Lisa explains that, for her, it’s not about signing up to the inclusion pledge as the ‘right’ thing to do, it’s also about it being the ‘smart’ thing to do to keep the business growing. “It's a business decision. Everybody's out there striving to keep their business growing and moving forward, or even just surviving, but I think that, even against the backdrop of today’s challenging times, the social value piece, the ESG stuff, all the sustainability side, to me is a ‘no-brainer’. I hate that saying, but it is.”
Lisa practices what she preaches when it comes to community engagement and social value. In addition to being past president of the Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber of Commerce and being a Freeman at the Cutler’s Company in Hallamshire, she is chair of the trustees at Grimm & Co, a registered charity supporting under-resourced children and young people in Rotherham and beyond with their confidence and skills around creativity and writing.
The charity introduces children, young people and families to discover creativity and imagination through artists, one-to-one mentoring and exciting projects that spark the motivation to write. February 2024 will see the opening of a new site for Grimm & Co at Rotherham’s Ship Hill as the charity had to find new facilities due to increasing demand for their services. The space will take inspiration from the fairytale genre, Victoriana, with its Emporium of Stories.
“I got involved with Grimm & Co about nine or ten years ago. Rotherham had a really low literacy rate compared to other areas around us so, when I was on the board of the Chamber of Commerce, I was asked to be a trustee for Grimm & Co and I jumped at the chance. It has grown and grown since then. It's amazing. Our new site opens on the 29th February next year, the magical date that only appears every four years.”
If your company would like to offer their support to Grimm & Co you can find out more here.
Our employer toolkit includes a range of high-quality 'Made' employer branding logos and assets. In addition, members gain access to valuable resources through the Made Platform, enabling them to post job vacancies on the Made Futures job board. The platform also offers a job vacancy template for creating customised social ads. By utilising these tools, you can effectively communicate your organisation's dedication to diversity and inclusion, both internally and externally.