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Gender balance interventions in major projects

A study of existing programmes and interventions

The proportion of women in major projects has not changed significantly in the past decade. Whilst companies may be recruiting significant numbers of women at apprentice and graduate level they are not staying in great numbers; they are not getting involved in major projects; and are not achieving leadership positions. This is a problem. Even without the skills shortages we should be trying harder to engage women in our companies. Evidence indicates that increasing the number of women on boards and executive teams leads to greater creativity, improved problem solving, better decision-making and a better bottom line.

As part of the Major Project Association’s Gender Balance Initiative, the Association has undertaken a study to determine where there is evidence of success as well as to identify future research gaps. This report outlines the findings of this study:

Raising the profile

Social media campaigns and comms programmes raise awareness of the significance of gender on their own, however, they do not make changes.

Mind the gap!

Publishing gender pay gap figures can lead to challenging conversations, but can ultimately change stereotypical attitudes and cultures.

Do not reinvent the wheel

We need to be cautious not to reinvent the wheel each time.

Leaders need to take the lead

Leaders cannot abdicate responsibility for this issue to HR teams.

Cross-sector initiatives

There are a number of good industry-specific accreditation programmes and initiatives.

There is no silver bullet

There is no fix-all except the investment of time, thought and energy.

The importance of an inclusive culture

It is important to challenge cultural norms and stereotypes within our industries.

Be fair and clear

Removing bias and increasing transparency into recruitment and promotion process will make a difference.

Targets work

Public declarations of top-down targets for recruitment, retention and promotion make a difference.

Pay and promotion

Women leave companies for exactly the same reasons as men – poor pay and promotion prospects. Being open about your gender pay gap and clear about how you will address it will alleviate some of this leakage.