By Jonnie Allen
I was shocked to read recently how badly the UK performs when it comes to gender equality in the workplace. The report that made this clearest was the latest Glass Ceiling Index in The Economist. This measures 10 factors that create disparity between men and women at work across 29 OECD countries (a club of rich countries). The items measured include educational attainment, labour-market attachment, pay, child-care costs, maternity and paternity rights, business-school applications and representation in senior jobs.
Of the 29 countries analysed the UK came 25th with only Switzerland, Turkey, Japan and South Korea below. For Cundall with over half our business operating in the UK and combining this with operating in the property and construction industry which has always performed badly when it comes to gender equality it feels like a double whammy.
We want to be a diverse organisation, in all respects but it seems that the world is working against us. The more I thought about this the more I gained confidence however. These two factors do not mean that women are not in the workforce and the industry in the UK, it just means that it is harder for them, so if you are one of the organisations that is fighting against this then you have a massive opportunity. And this is what we have been seeing. Our graduate intake has been way above the average for the number of women leaving university and we have some great role models who have then been going into schools and universities to encourage more women into the industry.
The thing that, as always, gives me heart when I read depressing statistic or articles is that working for Cundall we are doing the right thing, we are fighting for change and pressing for progress (to use the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day). And we can do something about it. Our “Inspiring the Next Generation” has been a great success. This has been where every member of staff has been encouraged to do their part in inspiring young people into engineering. There is still a huge amount more that we need to do in Cundall, in the industry and in the UK but things are changing and fast.