What initiatives has Mott MacDonald taken to get more women into senior and technical roles?
Our business believes that diverse teams enable us to deliver the best outcomes for our clients and we’re proactively working to tackle underrepresentation of women. We have introduced a number of initiatives and it is worth noting that in the Middle East, our professional excellence director, marketing, built environment, early career professional leads, are all women.
On a group level, we have a global equality diversity and inclusion (EDI) lead who actively creates and implements our EDI strategy and action plans around this and other topics. Our “Advance Network” was established to support gender diversity and inclusion in our leadership, improve attraction, recruitment and retention of female employees. It also seeks to improve health and wellbeing of male and female staff.
We also encourage flexible and agile working patterns – and importantly, we’re shifting the mindset from traditional beliefs around presenteeism. We’ve worked on increasing family friendly provisions such as enhanced maternity and paternity leave.
What is the biggest challenge facing women in construction today?
Traditionally, women have faced challenges related to pay gap, career development, promotion opportunities and leadership appointments. We are however seeing policy changes and new practices in place to close the pay gap and to introduce more friendly regulations that should allow women to have a balance between their professional and private lives which will ultimately, allow women to pursue leadership opportunities and invest more in their career development journey.
Has the attitude to women in this industry changed over the years?
It has indeed; there are many successful women in the industry who are inspiring and remodelling young professionals, and the number of female students enrolled in engineering has dramatically increased. Policy and decision makers across the region are encouraging and facilitating women’s participation. This year for example, the UAE Cabinet approved a law ensuring women are paid an equal wage to their male colleagues.
What single piece of advice would you give to any young woman considering embarking on a career in engineering?
With gender equality in mind, I would give the same advice to any gender and that is don't limit your skills to engineering alone, and don’t underestimate the value of communication and people skills in engineering. Show thought leadership and work on your personal branding too. However, I am also mindful that women’s experiences of this industry can differ, so my view would be to reach out to role models and mentors of any gender to get their insights and guidance. It’s best to ask and be proactive, leaders are more open to providing guidance than we sometimes assume.