The gender balance challenge

Gender Balance
Gender balance

AECOM workshop brings together leading Irish construction and property firms to discuss gender diversity and skills

Main image: L-R: Nicola Gillen; Claire Solon; Liz O’Donnell and John O'Regan

Image 2: John O'Regan and Claire Solon (SCSI President)

More than 50 key decision-makers from Irish construction and property companies recently attended an AECOM workshop to explore ways of improving the sector’s gender diversity.

Speakers included Liz O’Donnell, columnist, diversity advocate and former minister of state; Claire Solon, President of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland and Head of Property at Friends First and Nicola Gillen, Director and Global Practice Leader for Strategy Plus at AECOM.

 Action

AECOM is calling for urgent, positive action to encourage more women to pursue careers within the industry.

While work in construction is not gender-specific, many women still view the industry as a “male” profession, it was noted. AECOM believes employers will need to think more creatively to dispel common misperceptions if they are to attract the best female talent. John O’Regan, Director –Programme Cost Consultancy, Ireland, AECOM, said: “Ireland’s construction and property sector is missing out on much-needed female talent.”

Companies that demonstrate their commitment to a diverse workforce will attract the most talented and forward-looking employees. This is of course the experience of many CIF member companies who are proactive in terms of sourcing future talent.

See our article on Suir Engineering and Engagement with future talent in our current issue of Construction, for example.

Strategies

AECOM is calling for the development and implementation diversity strategies that encourage more women to build their careers in the industry. It is urging employers to learn from other sectors where imbalances have been successfully challenged through packages of complementary measures, from gender-neutral job descriptions to long-term mentoring programmes. AECOM’s own recruitment strategy focuses on raising the profile of its female employees to help encourage others into the profession.

The company also provides unconscious bias training and makes sure that women are involved in decisions about who should be promoted into senior roles.

At the workshop, industry leaders discussed a range of subjects including female leadership traits, pay gap monitoring and the role of mentoring programmes.

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