The race is on for a gender equal workforce throughout engineering and infrastructure. In Germany, one third of scientists and engineers are women (33%), significantly behind the European Union average of 40%. How can we address the imbalance? Holly King, a project management recruitment consultant at LVI Associates, discusses the unique position that recruiters play in furthering gender equality, particularly in the built environment industry.
The 2020 International Women’s Day theme is that an equal world is an enabled world. What does that mean to you in built environment?
It is proven that teams of mixed gender are more productive. In the built environment industry, it is about improving the numbers in gender diversity at both ends of the spectrum; how do we attract more women to come into our industry and how do we get more women into senior management positions?
What sort of conversations around gender equality do you have with clients and candidates in your sector?
Parts of the 'built environment' world, particularly the construction element, is often viewed as a male dominant industry. Working within this industry, I have noticed an increase in female employees and a greater need for females in my clients' companies. Although this suggests a positive direction, this is not the situation in every company. There are still cases highlighted to me where candidates feel gender inequality in their current companies, which should not be the case in 2020. Males and females in the industry are equally capable of being successful project managers. Although there may be trends in different genders possessing different skill sets, it is the combination that arguably creates successful working environments.
What role can recruiters play in creating an equal world?
Equality as a topic could be brought up more often in conversations with clients, to get a general understanding of how much of a current issue it is in the industry, and get an understanding of how our clients tackle the issue.
Speaking to our candidates in detail will encourage them to open up about issues in their current firm. If gender inequality is highlighted as an issue in a firm, this could be a firm to headhunt from to ensure men/women are placed in a healthier, equal environment, which we should be encouraging our clients to create.
What advice would you give to a company trying to create a diverse hiring strategy?
I would definitely start with suggesting that they view a candidate's profile without acknowledging their gender. Base interviews on experience and no other factors. Perhaps aim to interview an equal amount of males to females. In my opinion, the company should not hire a female for her gender if a male is better suited to the role. However, candidates themselves tend to wish to work in an equal environment.
Encouraging an environment where everyone feels they are equal and can be themselves is important. If the management team emphasize the importance of equality and diversity, it should naturally create that sort of environment and shared cultural value across the workplace. Ensuring females and males are given equal opportunity is essential in creating a 'gender equal world'.
LVI Associates is the leading specialist recruitment agency for the infrastructure sector. We were founded to give candidates and clients peace of mind that the recruitment process is in expert hands. Today, we provide contingency, retained search and project-based contract recruitment from our global hubs in Boston, London and Singapore.