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Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Introduction | Useful Links | Resources | Bulletin

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 equality, diversity and inclusion. If you have something you wish to share please contact Manon Bradley via



Supporting Remote Working Webinar

The Association is interested in developing a webinar on how managers can support remote workers.   We are keen to know if this would be of value.  Please get in touch and let me know if you would welcome this.

Travel restrictions mean that many of us are missing out on workshops, courses and training. However, there are plenty of other opportunities to develop and build on our skills and knowledge.  The Supply Chain School are running a series of virtual webinars on topics related to diversity and inclusion which are available for all.  Just follow this link for more details.  And do please share any other online EDI training opportunites which I can share with others via this bulletin.

Stay safe, stay sane.

Gender Equality. 5 Days. 50 Ideas.

Free Online Micro-series | Register by 31st March

Major Projects Association members have been invited to join Apolitical’s brand new email micro-series celebrating International Women’s Day. It will cover topics like tackling the gender pay gap, addressing gender inequality in health, and making cities more inclusive. 

You will receive:

Save a spot here:

The Engineering Pay Gap

This week Women In Science and Engineering (WISE) and the Royal Academy of Engineering published a report on the Gender Pay Gap within Engineering.  It makes for very interesting reading and at over 50 pages I recommend putting on the kettle before you sit down to read it.  Some key facts jump out:

The report and a series of recommendations can be found here.  What caught my eye was that lack of flexible working was felt to be the most significant cause of the pay gap and one of the key recommendations is to review promotion criteria and consider job sharing and other flexible working options for senior roles.

One part of this solution may be to use platforms such as DuoMe which is specifically designed to help those seeking job share opportunities to find their "other half".  Founders Graham Joyce and Eric Evans created the platform in response to their families’ needs for greater flexibility.  The platform helps employers to move from policies to actual take up of flexible work options and enables employees, not just to find job sharers, but also to write their flexible working requests in a way that will make them more likely to succeed.  

The importance and value of Social Inclusion

In a period when austerity and Brexit have highlighted the social divide in our country, the need for an approach to major projects that puts social inclusion at the core of what we do has never seemed more relevant.  If the pot of money is smaller but the need to bring people together is greater we must look closely at how we deliver value to our clients, engage with stakeholders and serve the society and communities who are the ultimate beneficiaries of our labours.  But do all players in the sector really understand what social inclusion means and how to realise social value on our projects?

We are holding a seminar on 14th November which aims to bring together companies at all points on the social inclusion learning curve to learn from each other through knowledge sharing and networking to drive a more proactive and informed approach to social inclusion in the major projects sector. 

The event is aimed at those who wish to know more about the value that a socially inclusive approach can bring and how to incorporate social inclusion at all stages.  To register follow this link.

Ten challenges for your organisation

Following our very successful event on Embracing Diversity in May we have synthesized the key messages into a special report which lists 10 key questions to ask your leaders, organisations, yourself and colleagues about how they think and behave regarding equality, diversity and inclusion.  In keeping with our intention to share all resources on the topics of Gender Balance and Equality this report is publicly available here.

In other news:

Funding of up to £1,000 for project management sector women available - Women & Leadership International is administering a national initiative to support the development of female leaders across the UK’s project managementsector.  The campaign is providing women with grants of up to £1,000 to enable participation in one of two leadership development programs: Leading Edge (for junior and aspiring leaders and managers) and Executive Ready (for mid-level leaders and managers).  Find out more and register your interest by completing the Expression of Interest form here prior to Friday, 2nd August:

LAST DAY TO REGISTER: Only 6.6% of the world's heads of state are women and we need more platforms that elevate the voices of women in government. This is why Apolitical have launched their women in public service writing competition. It's an opportunity for women all around the world to share their experiences about working in government. Check out the full competition details and register your interest before close of play on 3rd July. 

Diverse May Events

May is full of events where you can learn top tips on how to improve Diversity and Inclusion:

 14th May is the WISE Campaign Conference

15th May is our own seminar on Embracing Diversity

16th May we have the Women in Construction Summit at Olympia

21st May CECA’s Inspiring Change Awards event is taking place

There is plenty on offer for anyone hoping to learn more about how to improve equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Balance for Better #IWD

I resisted the temptation to add to your #IWD inbox on Friday.  I am sure that like me your inbox and social media feed was full of great stories, images and information.  Here are my best picks from last week:


This issue of the bulletin is dedicated to awards - not just trophies and accolades but PAY awards!  Because early indicators suggest that many companies are reporting even worse Gender Pay Gap figures now than in the first year of reporting.  To help tackle the complex issues surrounding the Gender Pay Gap, the Government Equalities Office has produced some very helpful and effective guidance which can be found here.

If you are an organisation within our sector that has managed to reduce your pay gap significantly you might want to submit your story for an Inspiring Change Award.   To know more follow this link.

Major Projects Association members may also want to know about our forthcoming event "Embracing Diversity" taking place on 15th May.  To learn more and to book your place follow this link.

The importance of sponsorship

At our evening discussion last night we talked about the importance of mentoring and coaching to help young talent to develop the skill of critical and creative thinking.  Mentoring, coaching and indeed sponsorship are just as important in helping under-represented people to achieve their potential in the workplace.  Each has a slightly different role. 

Coaches provide guidance on development and often help with soft skills. Mentors help to navigate careers choices through formal or informal mentoring relationships. Sponsors use their influence or leadership status to advocate for the advancement of an individual. They are often senior leaders or other people of power appropriately placed within an organisation who help protégés obtain high-visibility projects or jobs.

When women have sponsors, it can narrow the advancement gap between women and men. Understanding these differences can assist when embarking on these work relationships. To learn more visit Catalyst, specialists in gender balance support.

Mapping Gender Imbalance

In my hundreds (possibly thousands) of discussions about Gender Imbalance in major projects no-one has pointed me to a single description of the issues.  People have a variety of theories about why we lack diversity in this sector but no-one has yet summed up the totality of the causes.  So, last year I began trying to map all of the issues which impact upon the lack of women in major project delivery in order to understand the whole picture - and therefore to understand better the most effective mitigations.  

Last night I ran our third workshop - kindly hosted by KPMG.  We identified 94 different drivers of Gender Imbalance from social and cultural values, individual behaviours, the role of leaders and typical systems within the workplace. These 94 drivers created thousands of combinations of reasons why our project teams are mostly out of balance.  

We are keen to ensure that this piece of work is as inclusive as possible.  Therefore do let me know what you think are the main drivers of this issue and I will add them to our ever growing map.  Email me at: 

Recognition of Gender Balance Initiative

The Major Projects Association Gender Balance Initiative has been recognised by the Association Excellence Awards 2018.  The work was shortlisted as one of the finalists in the category of best membership initiative.  We were delighted, not only that our work was recognised in this way, but that working to achieve gender balance is considered an important initiative.

In other news, I have been hearing the phrase "diversity fatigue" a lot recently.  Here are some top tips to help:

Be realistic that this is a long game - there may be quick wins and some losses but change will happen over time.

Be clear that individual initiatives are part of an overall programme - none of them are a silver bullet - rather they are steps along the way.

Communicate, communicate, communicate - make sure everyone knows what you are doing and why and how they fit in.

Empower your teams to take action - this might mean giving them permission to challenge behaviours and language.

Don’t avoid difficult conversations - unless you tackle tough conversations you won’t make progress - be honest about bias and stereotypes and find a way to talk about them with the whole workforce.

Further links:

Public Sector Bodies Lead the Way on Gender Pay Gaps

Over three quarters of Major Projects Association members have now reported on their gender pay gap statistics. The Association has gathered this data and looks to analyse it in close detail over the summer period in order to identify useful and informative trends to help members improve performance.

The first trend we have identified is that the majority of member organisations where the gender pay was lowest were public sector bodies, with the Environment Agency reporting a gap of 2.6% and the Department for Work and Pensions 5.35%, whilst the majority of those reporting a greater pay gap were from the contracting/manufacturing industry. As an exception to this, the second worst gap of all members was from a public sector body, unsurprisingly in the nuclear industry, coming second to last against another nuclear organisation outside of the public sector.

We will continue to analyse this data and share our findings with you over the coming months. You can find out how your organisation compares by following this link to the Gender Pay Gap Service.

Online toolkits

Following the publication of our report on the effectiveness of Gender Balance Interventions we have decided to proceed with one of the recommended areas for further study - to list and evaluate any online toolkits and resources in the area of gender balance.

This is an appeal for you to share any toolkits that you have encountered and thoughts on their helpfulness.  Please let us know by emailing Manon Bradley on

Further links:

Pay Gap reporting

By April this year employers with more than 250 employees are now required to: publish their median gender pay gap figures; publish their mean gender pay gap figures; publish the proportion of men & women in each quartile of the pay structure; publish the gender pay gaps for any bonuses paid out during the year. Many have already reported and we are very pleased to see some members of the Major Projects Association posting some very favourable figures - the Department for Work and Pensions, National Grid and Rolls Royce have reported very small (or non-existent) gaps.  For those who wish to find out what their own company is doing it is as simple as followng this link.

Following on from their study on equal pay, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) Construction and Property Special Interest Group (CAPSIG) are exploring the issues for women working in construction and property PR and marketing. They are keen to hear from women working in all built environment related PR and marketing roles – including corporate communications, community and stakeholder engagement, public affairs, marketing communications, and marketing. If this is you please follow the link to a survey: click here.


Should we set targets?

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.

Gender Balance Interventions - a study

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:

Diverse teams are more effective teams

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.

The Myth of Meritocracy

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.

Gender Balance study

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

Deadline for proposals is 30th June 2017.

Improving Gender Balance - a request for evidence

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.

WE50 - Top 50 Women in Engineering

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

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:

Creating best practice

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.


Wellbeing at Work - let's talk about sweats!

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. 

Helpful resources:

How do we retain female talent?

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.

Targets and Role Models - do they work?

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.

Happy Summer!

National Women in Engineering Day 2016

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:

Events, scholarships and nominations

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:

Unconscious Bias Training - does it make a difference?

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:

Save the date!

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 professional women leave consultancy?

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.


Further links:

Free places on Skills4UK courses

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:

Gender Pay Gap Reporting

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:

Gender Balance Bulletin

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:

With thanks.


Manon Bradley

Development Director 

MPA bulletin image

Barriers to equality in the workplace

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.

To read the full article click here.

How might this impact upon the way in which you plan to deliver your Equality and Diversity agenda?

Further links:
MPA bulletin image

Gendered Language - ways to check

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.  

Gender Decoder - click here for details.

Textio - click here for details.