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#BreakTheBias - Women in Engineering

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#BreakTheBias - Women in Engineering

Carrington West recruits for technical roles in the UK built environment. This could be anything from construction site engineers, street lighting operatives and tradespeople to chartered surveys, planners or engineers leading the way in major infrastructure projects. One thing almost all our sectors have in common in that there are more men than women.

As recruiters, we ask ourselves frequently, not just on International Women’s Day, what can we do to ensure we are part of the solution, not the problem?

There are well documented initiatives that seek to redress the imbalance at a grass roots level, especially around encouraging girls to study STEM subjects in schools and universities as well as career support. Team Leader in the highways sector, Adam Butler, thinks we need more initiatives at both ends of the career spectrum.

“More needs to be done to encourage girls in the formative years of their education to consider career options in engineering or planning, then they can study the appropriate A Levels and university courses to achieve that goal." He goes on to say,

“We also need to have more support structures in place to ensure women achieve senior management positions. If women are making hiring decisions, they will become part of a naturally more unbiased hiring decision making process.”

One area where we have seen hiring organisations be particularly proactive is the smart metering industry. A nationwide shortage of skilled workers has resulted in companies taking a look at their hiring processes and ways to widen the talent pool. Ryan Williamson, Lead Consultant in Carrington West’s utilities & power team says,

“Our clients have had to be more creative and competitive if they want to hire quickly. The level and quality of training available and a change in more flexible shift patterns is one way that women have been encouraged to consider smart metering as a career.”

Ella Razzell, Compliance Team Leader, interviewed three of our smart metering candidates as part of a diversity and inclusion initiative Carrington West conductive of behalf of a client.

“The women I spoke to all chose their careers based on a desire to be active, meet people and have variety in their working day. This maybe all the reasons men choose construction roles for example, but smart metering is less physically demanding and I am pleased to say that the women we spoke to all felt supported by their male counterparts, rather than discriminated against. So the issue is communicating the opportunities to women in the first place, once they are in a smart meter role, they are happy and supported.”

Kent Streek, Team Leader works in the utilities and power sectors where he shares that he is seeing clients acknowledge that they need to do more to attract women, but they don’t always know how to go about it.

“Promoting the success of women alreadyin engineering roles is a good start, but we also need to make sure we play our part. Whether that is making sure the language of our job adverts is inclusive, or advising clients on the changes they can make to make it easier for women (and anyone from a diverse background), such as guaranteeing equal pay, flexible working or part time options.” Says Kent. Dave Kua, Team Leader in the water division agrees,

“Championing women in existing roles is a great way to demonstrate the many benefits of a career path or a company”, however, he does concede that this is likely to be more successful when recruiting for permanent positions. He goes on to say,

“The challenge is trying to communicate the many benefits of a role, career or company when trying to quickly supply a contract worker. The default is always going to be to draw on the existing talent pool, so we need to make sure we are always working to draw a diverse group into that pool.”

Both Dave and Kent agree that Carrington West is well placed to offer this advice as we run and inclusive and accommodating business ourselves. Ella is our “Diversity & Inclusion Champion”, a role she is passionate about. She works with the consultants, their clients, the senior management team, HR and marketing to ensure that the team stay abreast of issues around D&I, incorporate best practices into our processes and all communications. She believes that the key to overcoming gender bias is

“Understanding that everyone has different backgrounds, experiences and needs. If these are recognised and supported then the additional value they bring to a team is immediately evident.” Speaking from personal experience, Ella goes on to say,

“Carrington West has supported me through two sets of maternity leave. During those times I was able to take the time I needed to be with my family, but also able to choose to stay included in social and work events as and when I wanted. The culture is amazingly supportive, not just for mothers, but for all parents or caregivers. In return I can’t help but bring my best self to work everyday.”