Why is gender equality important to you?
Gender equality is extremely important to me. Construction is a highly competitive industry and the complex projects we deliver demand the very best performing teams. Developing a more diverse and inclusive culture helps foster stronger teams, contributing significantly to our business. Diversity and inclusion provides groups with wider views building on different experiences, leading to the innovative approaches that we need to succeed.
From a personal perspective, I have two daughters who have the ability to make a difference in their chosen careers. All they need is equality of opportunity, and a world free from traditional unconscious biases. You can leave the rest to them.
Building a more diversified workplace
A key step forward in building a more diversified workplace in Skanska UK has been a series of programs to attract candidates from wider and more diverse pools of talent than we have traditionally recruited from.
These programs, which provide both training and internships, include our Return to Work scheme, which is open for anyone looking to return to work after a career break for any reason, such as child care or caring for older relatives. Since we began Return to Work three years ago, we've offered 15 placements, and 10 of the people – all women – are still working with us and four have been promoted. Other programs target those who served in the military, the disabled and ex-offenders.
Becoming more inclusive
Although diversity is important, we need to make sure we build an inclusive culture where everyone feels equally valued and welcome. We're taking steps to ensure this across our organization, from our approaches to training and development, our women's network, providing safety equipment made especially for women, to mixed-pair mentoring.
This has seen many women bring their skills and experience to Skanska from other sectors, some of whom are getting back into work after a career break. We are also seeing more women joining Skanska through our apprentice and graduate programs – making up almost a third of our 2017 intake. Our leadership team is diversifying with almost 30 percent of our UK senior leadership team now being women. These are concrete signs of progress but there is still much to do.
Continuing the work
Part of making construction more diverse is becoming involved earlier in women's careers. We still do not have enough young people, especially women, entering into careers within construction and engineering.
That's why we have created a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) Ambassador network of more than 300 people who go into schools – as well as universities and colleges – across the UK to hold STEM activities and career sessions to help younger pupils understand if choosing a STEM subject could lead to the right career choice, and inspire them to do so. I'm humbled by how far we and our industry have come with diversity and inclusion, and energized to tackle the significant work left to do.