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Attracting Women Into Engineering

Team Seeks Low-Carbon Supply Chain

1 July 2016

Costain is demonstrating its commitment to diversity with a leading role in the National Women in Engineering Summit in London.

Commissioned by Highways England and organised by a Costain-led committee of supply chain sponsors, the Summit, being held today (1 July) looks at how businesses both inside and outside the engineering sector are attracting more women and aims to share best practice as well as provide ideas and tools that companies can take away and use. The 2016 theme is: ‘Shifting the Needle: Accelerating the pace of change in attraction’. In attendance are business and HR leaders from a diverse group of over 35 members of Highways England’s supply chain.

The Summit begins with a Leadership Breakfast. It is being hosted by Jim O’Sullivan, CEO Highways England, and attended by senior leaders from key Highways England suppliers including Andrew Wyllie, Costain CEO. On the menu will be open discussions about what actions need to be taken to accelerate the pace of change in attracting more women into the industry.

Feedback from the Leadership Breakfast will feed into a panel discussion. The panel comprises Andrew Wyllie; Jim O’Sullivan; Alasdair Reisner, CEO CECA (Civil Engineering Contractors Association); Sue Percy, CEO CIHT (Chartered Institution of Highways & Transportation); and Stephen Fox, CEO BAM Nuttall. They will answer questions from an audience of senior business decision makers and HR leaders including Costain’s Darren James, Managing Director Infrastructure, Sally Austin, HR Director and Catherine Warbrick, Investor Relations and Corporate Responsibility Director.

The audience will hear speakers from organisations that have successfully managed to recruit more women, such as Royal Mail and Sport England. By the end of the day, it is hoped participants will know why shifting the needle is vital for their businesses and the industry, what industry leaders are doing to address the problem, and what actions they can take in their own organisations to boost the number of women.

Costain’s involvement in the Summit follows activity across the company on National Women in Engineering Day in June. Women members of staff visited schools, universities and careers fairs around the country to promote engineering as a career to young women.

Costain's women engineers and their colleagues working with Thames Water as part of the eight2O alliance also marked the Day. More than 50 women got together to celebrate diversity and appreciate what the women in eight2O women bring to the alliance.

Activities included a women's wellbeing talk, a debate on gender quotas at executive boards, and an inspirational keynote speech from Mandy Duncan, eight2O's Commercial Director. Whilst the debate was unanimously against quotas for women executives, it prompted some excellent conversations on what could be done to encourage women to join the industry and reach their full potential.

Amy Attwater, organiser said: "The event was primarily organised as a networking event, to bring together the women working across the eight20 alliance whatever their various job roles. It was wonderful to come together and celebrate National Women in Engineering Day and what we, as women in eight2O, have achieved to date."

Catherine Dunford, Project Manager, said: "I hope the event will mark the start of a programme of activities to further improve diversity in eight2O. There was a real interest from the attendees in further women's events and possibly establishing a mentoring network, as well as carrying out salary and benefit benchmarking exercises to be able to measure our success and identify improvements. We are in the enviable position of having a potential nine further years working on as part of the Thames Water family. This means, for example, that some of the women who will join us as graduates in AMP7 are currently 14 years old and choosing their GCSE options. We have an unique opportunity to build long term relationships with local schools and colleges and to demonstrate the amazing range of roles which women undertake in this industry."

Female colleagues in eight2O work in diverse roles including estimators, buyers, customer experience coordinators, and project managers, as well as many varied engineering positions. The percentage of the eight2O workforce that is female is well over 20%, beating twice that of the national average in our sector.



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