This year's International's Women's Day theme #ChooseToChallenge represents the idea of challenging norms related to gender equality to create change. At LVI Associates, we choose to challenge and promote gender diversity and inclusion.
Haley Grey, Senior Consultant - MEP/Architecture at LVI Associates, shares her thoughts on this year's theme, and how she chooses to challenge in her role.
What does the #ChooseToChallenge message mean to you?
#ChooseToChallenge in the MEP Engineering world means a lot of things, but more than anything it means speaking up against gender biases in the workplace instead of sitting by. #ChooseToChallenge is a great message because it doesn't only apply to females in the industry, but to everyone involved. It means facing bias head-on when it comes to hiring, promotions, female engineers in leadership, and making changes at the root of these issues- regardless of the role you currently have. There are constantly new ways to improve and #ChooseToChallenge means encouraging those changes instead of becoming complacent and sitting by!
What sort of conversations around gender equality do you have with your clients in your role? Has Covid-19 had an impact on gender equality?
Even though the MEP Engineering industry is one that is innovative and constantly improving, there are still many ways it's behind in diversity. Engineering is a heavily male-dominated industry, so it starts with encouraging women in STEM fields, and many of my clients begin outreach at the university level. Additionally, encouraging and educating clients on the importance of having women in leadership positions within their firm is something we've been pushing for. Covid-19 has definitely had an impact on gender equality in the AEC industry. With most employees working from home, family care has been an interesting issue to tackle. Several female engineers in my network have explained that they are primarily responsible for taking care of their children or assisting in their remote learning through the day, regardless of if their partner is also working from home. It's led to some important conversations in their households on how to share the responsibilities equally and has brought to light some of the drastic differences men and women face when balancing career vs family.
What role can recruiters play in challenging norms and creating change?
Don't be afraid to push back on clients if the qualifications for their roles are too specific or are excluding groups that could excel in the position. While some qualifications are crucial to perform the job, others will likely be 'preferred' or not required. According to a report from Hewlett-Packard, women typically only apply to positions they meet 100% of the criteria for, whereas men often apply if they feel they meet just 60%. On the flip side of recruitment, this also means reaching out to a wider candidate base. Don't worry about sending someone who is just shy of the requirements you were given (such as years experience). You may present a hiring manager with someone who has slipped their radar and would be an excellent fit.
What advice would you give to a company trying to create a diverse hiring strategy?
The best way to attract a diverse candidate pool is to have diverse leadership within your company. This helps not only get rid of many unconscious biases during the hiring process, but also shows there is mobility and career progression for anyone who is willing to put in the work. When hiring for leadership positions, make sure you're actively considering all the candidates and reaching out to as diverse of a candidate pool as possible!
As a female leader, what advice would you give to other aspiring leaders in overcoming potential gender biases and achieving career success?
Don't let your voice go unheard. Being a female in the workplace, there are sometimes pressures to let others speak over you or a feeling that your voice is somehow less important than others. When you have new ideas or thoughts to contribute, don't be afraid to speak up and share them. Your voice is equally valuable to those of your male colleagues and deserves to be heard!
About Haley Grey
Haley Grey is a Senior Recruitment Consultant in LVI Associate's Boston office, focusing on MEP Engineering and Architecture Recruitment across the US. She also represents the Boston office on Phaidon International's Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee.
Visit other International Women's Day related content here.