This bulletin is intended to share hints and tips, techniques, lessons, and stories both good and “not so good” in order to support all members to improve their gender balance. If you have something you wish to share please contact Manon Bradley via firstname.lastname@example.org
I have had a number of discussions recently about whether Gender Balance targets and quotas for women are positive or whether they are threatening for male allies. The message in our Gender Balance interventions study is clear that targets work and transparency is important.
The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) research shows that diversity efforts are most effective when linked to outcomes. For example, executives’ compensation could be pegged to the level of gender diversity in their business. Companies should consider promoting managers who have strong female candidates in their succession pipeline (or they should at least challenge those who do not).
Positive steps benefit all employees – not just women. Creating a culture that enables more women to be ambitious does not put men at a disadvantage. Among the best companies – those showing the most progress on gender equality – both women and men are more ambitious. There are clearly many factors at work, but our data shows that the gains of women do not come at the expense of men.
Transparency is key – companies should communicate their progress, celebrate both effort and outcomes, and identify where they still have work to do.
For more information read our report in full: available on our website.
The Major Projects Association Gender Balance Initiative was launched 2 years ago due to the low number of women in our sectors and slow progress towards changes. In our conversations with members we heard of lots of different programmes and initiatives being undertaken. We beleived that there was some great work but wanted to understand the "state of the nation".
So, last year we commissioned a study to capture a snap-shot of what is happening in our various industries - what works and what doesn't work - in order to avoid reinventing wheels and to save expenditure on expensive programmes where there is no evidence that they make a difference. This study is complete and the report can be found on our website.
The report is a great starting point for any organisation that is serious about making a difference in this challenging environment.Further links:
Last week the Major Projects Association published it's Project Initiation Handbook. It is a concise, easy to read report on the top ten issues during the initation phase of your project. Key amongst these is the need to build diversity into your team. The report includes a case study of how KPMG works to retain female talent. You can access the report via this link. (You must be logged on to download the report.)
The importance of people, diversity and talent is also the central theme in the Highways People conference at the NEC, Birmingham on 9th November which will be making the business case for investing in skills, diversity and training together with the practical how-to of developing a strategic talent pipeline. For more information follow this link. We have negotiated a 20% discount for our members. If you would like to take advantage of this offer please use this link or enter the code HWYMPA2 when making your booking.
Whenever the notion of quotas is raised as a way to achieve greater gender balance someone will reject the idea because they "recruit and promote based on merit". However, recent work in Silicon Valley based on research out of MIT has demonstrated that "organizations that call themselves meritocratic are actually more likely to discriminate". Aubrey Blanche, Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Tech company Atlassian increased the proportion of female technical hires by 80% by challenging the notion that the company was a meritocracy.
The MIT work (which can be found via this link) found that when an organization is explicitly presented as meritocratic, individuals in managerial positions favour a male employee over an equally qualified female employee by awarding him a larger monetary reward.
Blanche used this and other evidence to develop a D&I strategy which helped to recruit more women and more black and hispanic individuals. You can read the detail of Blanche's work via this link.
If you know of other research which specifically demonstrates how to improve Gender Balance do please share it with us so that we can share it with the rest of our members.
The Major Projects Association are seeking bids for a background study into what evidence currently exists about the effectivenss of interventions to improve Gender Balance in Major Projects. The researcher would be expected to seek out evidence and synthesise these findings into a guidance note for members as well as identifying knowledge gaps which might inform further research.
To learn more please contact Manon Bradley via email@example.com.
Deadline for proposals is 30th June 2017.
I hear a lot of stories about companies which are doing great things to improve their Gender Balance. And when I press for details I often hear the same list of initatives: setting up a women's network; unconscious bias training for all; mentoring. And whilst all of these are positive experiences for the individuals involved there is a distinct lack of long-term evidence that such interventions make a difference to the numbers of women recruited, retained and promoted within major projects. In fact, more often than not, no-one is tracking the numbers of women retained and promoted. So I am keen to hear of interventions which really work and where the numbers back up the anecdotal evidence. If you have such numbers please get in touch.
The researcher who coined the phrase "implicit bias" is now attempting to unravel the phenomenom in order to better help people to overcome it. As you will have read in my bulletin of last year, unconsious bias training can sometimes hinder the journey to greater balance in the workforce. Patricia Devine and a small group of scientists have developed an approach to bias that actually seems to be working. It is a two hour workshop which is crafted to understand that bias is a habit which can be broken. But to do so, Devine says, you have to be aware of it, motivated to change, and have a strategy for replacing it. To read more follow this link.
Britain continues to be rock bottom of Europe’s league table of women participating in engineering. While many businesses and organisations support the goal of increasing diversity in the sector, the fact remains that just 9 per cent of our engineers are women. For engineering to get the very best recruits, the net from which its talent is drawn must become much wider.
In order to find inspirational role models, the Women's Engineering Society has teamed up with The Telegraph to launch WE50 - Top 50 Women in Engineering.
WES wants to celebrate the work of women doing great things in engineering and they need help to find them. Please follow the link below to read more and to nominate your candidate.Further links:
International Women's Day will no doubt have kept you as busy as it did me. I hope that you were able to use it to start new conversations, to generate new ideas and to inspire women and girls.
The evening after IWD2017 I was at a dinner for senior leaders and one of our guests shared two key tips for employers wishing to appeal to and recruit more women. These are great ideas to add to the toolkit for those of us trying to improve Gender Balance. I share them with you now and hope that they strike a chord:
The aim of this bulletin has always been to share best practice on issues relating to Gender Balance. We hope that, in our previous bulletins on topics such as Wellbeing, Retention practices and Unconscious Bias, we have given you food for thought and links to helpful reports or to other people.
This bulletin is instead an appeal for readers to help to create best practice.
Providing real support for employees who are going through difficult periods in their life is critical to ensuring that you retain talented staff. Such difficulties might be due to caring responsibilities for children or relatives or because of personal health concerns. Some members have recommended the use of support services such as My Family Care. (Other services are available.)
“Irrespective whether our employees are carers of an elderly relative or a disabled adult, or a new or experienced parent, balancing work and family isn’t always easy. We wanted all our employees to be able to be their best at work and, while we know there isn’t a single solution for all working parents and carers, we decided to partner with My Family Care. The various services they provide are available for all our UK employees but have a particularly beneficial impact for our female employees who tend to hold the majority of caring responsibilities in the home.”
One health issue which impacts millions of women is the menopause. There are 3.5 million women aged between 50-65 working in the UK today many of who are likely going through the menopause which can last from 2 – 10 years.
There is a rather stubborn myth that the reason that women in their late 20s and early 30s leave their jobs is to start a family. But a recent report by ICEDR has found that four of the top five reasons that women leave their jobs are the same as those for men in the same age group (click here for the full report.):
"I have found a job that pays more elsewhere."
"There are not enough opportunities for learning and development for me here."
"There is not a fair balance between how hard I work and the compensation I receive."
"The work here is not as interesting and meaningful as I would like."
Another recent study of engineering courses has shown that female engineering students abandon their studies or decide to switch subjects when they are not taken seriously by their tutors or fellow students (click here to find the report.) The report states, "Many of the women in our study experienced blatant gender bias in their project teams and internships. Much of the hands-on aspects of engineering are treated as men’s work, with women relegated to more secretarial duties. This culture of sexism and stereotyping sidelines qualified women, who then often choose a different career path."
In the major projects and engineering environments we have a problem attracting and retaining female talent. It is clear from these two reports that we need to work harder at ensuring these women feel valued.
The latest Gender Balance event - the full day seminar on the Retention and Promotion challenge - enjoyed a large turn-out and great engagement from the delegates. Which included a discussion about whether targets would help or hinder the task of retaining and promoting more women. Some felt that "targets attract behaviours that motivate meeting the targets, and they invariably result in more negative outcomes"; whilst others said this was about "levelling the playing field not tipping it". What do you think? Read the full report here.
There is also a current debate about the importance and significance of role models to inspire women to join our professions. Development Director, Manon Bradley, in her capacity as champion powerlifter gives her thoughts on this topic in UK Construction Week news. She believes that the function of a role model should not only be to inspire others to enter an industry but also create an environment which encourages them to stay. Click here to read the article.
What are you doing that works? Are you willing to share your success with other members of the Association? If so, please get in touch.
To celebrate National Women in Engineering Day 2016 (NWED2016) we interviewed Professor Denise Bower, Professor of Engineering at The University of Leeds (and co-incidentally Executive Director of the Major Projects Association) about her thoughts on the progress we have made in encouraging women into this amazing profession.
“NWED is a brilliant initiative, led by the Women’s Engineering Society, but embraced by the whole of the engineering community – associations, universities, employers and individuals alike.” said Bower. “In the short space of two years it has had a major impact upon the visibility of women in engineering and that can only be a good thing.”
“The celebration of female engineers is really important if we want to encourage more women to join us – and I hope that the success of NWED can also be a catalyst for change. Let’s prompt employers to use the day to publish the number of female engineers that they employ and therefore provide us with numbers that we can track year on year to chart progress.”
At the Major Projects Association we are also cognisant of the thousands of women without engineering backgrounds who contribute to the success of major projects. We are keen to tell stories which will entice more women into this amazing career, not just those who join straight from school or university with STEM qualifications but also those from other backgrounds – historians, chemists, vets and psychologists – all of whom, we are convinced, will be excited by the many opportunities to change the world which are offered by a career in major projects.
If you have a story to tell about what excites you about your career in major projects please contact us via: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Forthcoming MPA events:
We have three Gender Balance events planned over the next few months. "Three things that work" an evening session where we will hear stories about what has worked to improve gender balance at three different organisations. This takes place on 25th May - click here for details and to book your place. Unconscious bias training on 3rd June is an opportunity to learn more about how this impacts upon the decisions you make an how you can challenge it. Click here to register. Finally, on 13th July we have a full day seminar and debate hosted by KPMG to look at issues related to Retention and Promotion. For more information click here.
Influential Women in Engineering Nominations:
Women's Engineering Society is seeking nominations for the 50 most influential women in Engineering - not only those women who are engineers but also those who have influenced the engineering professions. To learn more and to nominate your candidate follow this link.
Said Business School Scholarships:
SBS are offering two scholarships for exceptional female candidates on their MSc in Major Programme Management programme. The School believes that greater diversity with the project team positively affects the outcome of the project and one of the ways they are showing their support for greater diversity is by funding a scholarship worth 50% of the course fees. To learn more follow this link.
To learn more about our Gender Balance initiative follow the link at the bottom of this bulletin.Further links:
New research from Australia based consultancy UGM suggests that Unconscious Bias training is hindering rather than helping the the journey towards Gender Balance. Follow the link below to read their report.
Alternatively come along to our event on 3rd June on the topic of Unconsious Bias and challenge yourself. Follow this link for more detail and to register your place at the event.
For more Gender Balance events follow this link.Further links:
We are in the process or organising three events on the topic of Gender Balance:
Do please join us at one or several of these events and share this information amongst colleauges who may wish to attend.Further links:
Why do women leave consultancy and how do we get them back?
MPA member, PA consulting, is supporting a new research project coordinated by the Management Consultancies Association (MCA) with help from She’s Back!, an organisation that helps businesses access the untapped potential represented by women (and sometimes men) who have taken a career break and never returned.
The aim of the research is to identify people who have taken a career break from consulting and to understand what it would take to persuade them to return.
If you fit this description and would like to take part in the survey please follow the link below.
In honour of International Women's Day Skills4UK are offering free places on their courses aimed at supporting women in the workplace. The two courses on offer are a 4 day Career Development Programme and a 2 day Returners Programme aimed at those people returning to work after a break. The dates offered are as follows:
The 4-day Career Development Programme:
Manchester: 21 April, 17 May, 14 and 15 June
OR London: 27 April, 18 May, 29 and 30 June
The 2-day Returners Programme:
Epsom: 20 April and 24 May
To apply for your free place follow this link.
These courses come very highly rated - to hear some delegate testimonials follow the link below.Further links:
Event on Gender Pay Gap Reporting
We are holding an event to hear what the Gender Pay Gap reporting will mean for your company on 9th March, 2.30 - 3.30 pm. Follow the link to register.Further links:
When the MPA Gender Balance Initiative was launched on 5th November 2015 one of the delegates suggested a regular Gender Balance Bulletin.
The intention of this bulletin is to share good practice amongst members; to flag up interesting tools and research which might help to improve the action you are taking to improve Gender Balance at all levels.
If you have examples of work which is really making a difference which you are happy to share with other MPA members please let me know via: email@example.com.
A recent study by the Fawcett Society found that managers in charge of recruitment were more than twice as likely to be against equality of opportunity than the general population. A survey of more than 1,400 recruitment managers, reported in The Guardian, found one in seven believed they would lose out if men and women were more equal.
One in four of the men and women questioned said they believed a more equal society would not be better for the economy, compared with 13% in a separate survey of 8,000 adults.
Sam Smethers, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, said: “A significant minority of managers – the “barrier bosses” – are holding us back. They are the ones with the power over recruitment and their decisions are likely to be informed by their attitudes to equality.
How might this impact upon the way in which you plan to deliver your Equality and Diversity agenda?Further links:
Without realising it, we all use language that is subtly ‘gender-coded’. Society has certain expectations of what men and women are like, and how they differ, and this seeps into the language we use. Think about “bossy” and “feisty”: we almost never use these words to describe men. There are ways to check the language in your job advertisements and other forms of communication to ensure your lanugage is gender neutral. Two "apps" which have been brought to our attention are Gender Decoder and Textio although there will certainly be others.