Pratt & Whitney Canada's IWD cake helped engage employees while celebrating women in STEM

 July 28, 2018

IWD Best Practice Winners

Celebrating International Women's Day through sharing a remarkable and artistic cake played an integral part of global aerospace manufacturer Pratt & Whitney Canada's wider activity calling for more women and girls to choose STEM careers - and honoring their female employees.

Pratt & Whitney, a division of United Technologies (UTC), is building a legacy for future generations of female aerospace engineers. With over 39,000 employees around the world, the company maintains a firm commitment to helping forge women's equality.

On International Women’s Day, Pratt & Whitney Canada hosted a successful and exciting event at their Toronto, ON facility that not only attracted attention internally, but also significant interest and engagement from their wider community. Highlighting the fact that women make up just 10-12% of the technical field, the company is proudly taking steps to promote engineering as a viable career option for young girls in order to drive up participation.

A major highlight of the event was a fantastic cake jointly garnished with the International Women's Day and Pratt & Whitney Women Canada's Leadership Committee logos - a best practice example indeed for celebrating the occasion with cake!

Identifying more ways and opportunities to recruit women 

One of the key aims of the event was to engage Pratt & Whitney Canada's employees and community to collaborate on identifying new ways and opportunities to attract more women to join the company.

In the lead up to International Women's Day, event organizers asked: "What can we do more of or do better to find and encourage qualified and experienced women to join our company? Are we doing enough?" And, as such, International Women's Day provided the perfect opportunity to demonstrate Pratt & Whitney Canada's commitment to recruiting, retaining, developing and promoting more women in the company - and to engage existing employees.

Pratt & Whitney Canada women's day
Pratt & Whitney Canada employees and local community supported International Women's Day and the call to #PressforProgress.

Strong leadership and commitment from the top and beyond

To kick off activities general manager Griff Williams, a true champion for diversity, gave an inspirational speech about the importance of unity and how combined efforts can drive a more fairly represented field of employees.

An invitation to honorable guests from Pratt & Whitney Canada's local neighborhood such as the Fire and Emergency Services Training Institute, and to further aerospace companies and engineering organizations saw representatives enthusiastically participate in the event to celebrate and support women within their own organisations. Further aerospace companies like Precision Aero Components and various engineering organizations involved with the Canadian Federation of Aircraft Maintenance Engineers Associations, responded to Pratt & Whitney Canada's invitations to be present and celebrate the women in their life.

"As a strong believer in women’s rights I found this year’s message to #PressforProgress to be relevant and something I closely held as a belief. I have always had the thought that we should strive to have more women in engineering. Why are not young girls encouraged to be engineers, technicians and trade workers? Why don’t colleges, universities, high school teaches promote and encourage new generations of girls to apply for technical fields?" remarked Pratt & Whitney Canada's Juliana Stirbulescu who has a Bachelor Degree in Engineering (BEng). "That’s why here at Pratt & Whitney Canada, we are building a legacy in supporting the future of girls in STEM fields."

"Seeing all these people come out in support of a cause bigger than themselves gave hope in the success of this mission to #PressforProgress," she continued.

Women's Leadership Committee collaborated to drive change

Pratt & Whitney Canada's own Women's Leadership Committee was responsible for delivering the outstanding event that made a significant impact on the hearts and minds of the company's staff in Canada. Collaboration between the Women Leadership Committee and the Women of Aviation Network, saw the coordinating team invite employees to support a vision of a new world where women are adequately represented and promoted for the next generation of women in STEM.

Pratt & Whitney Canada also participated in a Guinness World Record attempt to fly the most pink paper planes simultaneously, as organized by the Women of Aviation.

International Women's Day - Pratt & Whitney aerospace
Pratt & Whitney Canada participated in a Guinness World Record attempt on International Women's Day to fly the most pink paper planes simultaneously, as organized by Women in Aviation.

The male employees within Pratt & Whitney Canada responded to the day's positive energy by providing personal and professional insights on a vision board. They were asked what tangible and practical action they could take to press for progress as:

  • brothers how to promote their sisters
  • fathers how to develop their daughters
  • husbands how to recruit quality women
  • sons how to retain women’s knowledge in our field through a positive visibility.
Pratt & Whitney aerospace
Male employees at Pratt & Whitney Canada actively supported International Women's Day and the call to #PressforProgress by committing to action.

Record number of employees flocked to the event

For the first time in the company’s history, the auditorium wasn’t big enough. There were more people who wanted to come to the International Women's Day event than could be accommodated. Employee engagement was at an all time high. Pratt & Whitney Canada's International Women's Day event saw more than 50 per cent the women employees at their Canadian plant participate in the event. And in terms of number of attendees overall, the event saw a higher number of men attend than women. It was a record-breaking number of participants overall for any event ever organized to date by the Women's Leadership Committee.

Women within Pratt & Whitney Canada who had never even participated in any company event in over 20 years, felt that they really belonged and came along to the International Women's Day event to offer their support and join the call to #PressforProgress, alongside their male counterparts.

"We are grateful for International Women’s Day being such an inspiration and motivation in bringing people together and making our world better," said Pratt & Whitney Canada.

"The International Women's Day logo provided the most beautiful welcome view for all the guests. We did a beautiful power point presentation to have on the background wall, we made nice banners, we posted flyers around the company, sent out a flash e-mail ..." explained event organizers.

Pratt & Whitney IWD aerospace
Pratt & Whitney Canada engaged their employees and their local community to #PressforProgress. 

Further activities planned to continue to press for progress

Pratt & Whitney Canada has many future activities planned, including:

  • “Seize your future” workshops to develop leadership skills to daughters aged 15-21
  • “First Robotics” initiative that sponsors 126 young children develop to teamwork, engineering, research and project management skills
  • “Google Play and Made with Code” program teaming up with and empowering girls into science and technology

Many congratulations to all involved.

IWD Toolkit
IWD Light Up
Where Women Work

Join the IWD Community