Promoting diversity, inclusion and opportunities in engineering on International Women’s Day
is International Women’s Day (IWD). Since 1911 International Women’s Day has been recognised to honour the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women all over the world.
#BreakTheBias – the campaign theme for this year’s International Women’s Day – explores a world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination and focuses on one that is inclusive, diverse and equitable.
Globally, engineering and construction has traditionally been a male-dominated sector. Calibre is committed to providing a diverse and inclusive workplace and is a founding partner of the Diversity Agenda Accord – a joint external initiative from industry bodies Engineering New Zealand, the New Zealand Institute of Architects and ACE New Zealand. Initiated in 2018, the Diversity Agenda Accord aims to promote real change across the design and engineering sector by helping organisations become more diverse and inclusive.
For this article we caught up with some of Calibre’s female and male employees around New Zealand to find out what it means to them to be part of an inclusive and supportive workplace.
Engineer Gia Kristel Algie says she has enjoyed ongoing support with progressing her career and reaching her professional goals. She says it’s all about how we present ourselves and the company – everyone has a say, and equal opportunities.
“I came from a different working environment in Singapore, where it wasn’t uncommon to specify the race, gender, age of the person a company wanted to hire to fill a vacancy. It seems very backwards today in terms of hiring. I struggled to find an on-site project manager role as I did not fit the criteria set for these roles.”
“With Calibre there are no such limitations. After moving from a very technical role to a project management role, I’ve been given support and encouragement to help me get to where I want to be. Being involved in what that looks like has been really helpful.”
“The flexibility that Calibre offers is great compared to some other companies. It’s important to remember that people have lives outside of work so the balance is really a key selling point for us.”
Gia Kristel Algie
Project Manager – Buildings & Structures
Jamie Thompson is an Associate Engineer based in Calibre’s Christchurch office. Through Jamie’s career in a typically male-dominated industry he has seen many of the challenges women have faced, particularly working on-site. Jamie believes many of the ‘old school’ ideals have now died out, and with newer generations coming through he says the work culture of the sector is definitely progressing with time. He personally doesn’t see any bias on a day-to-day basis at Calibre and enjoys the diversity and inclusion of the workplace.
“Industry, and society, are much more prepared to call people out for outdated ideals nowadays and to help ensure everyone is on an even footing. Things that would have been commonplace years ago are simply not tolerated any more in this industry. Inclusion and diversity are welcomed, and Calibre leads the way in this respect.”
Associate Engineer – Low Carbon Design
Senior Talent & Acquisition Partner Renita Rajan believes there is nothing stopping women developing and progressing their careers at Calibre, including those wishing to progress to management or leadership roles.
“Being a recruitment specialist, observing candidates coming through, I’ve seen a lot of support for women. There are less women in the field, but we do get excited when hiring more women. We don’t consider gender – they are all engineers. Due to a lot more males studying engineering, most of the graduate applications we receive are by males, however we do always try and make that balance when hiring.”
“I’ve been with Calibre for five years, and during that time I’ve got married, had my first child, and been on maternity leave. I remember feeling like a different person coming back – but it was to such a supportive and family-like environment. We agreed I would come back to a four-day work week, including two days working from home. I think it has really helped me to thrive at work as I was given the support and flexibility I needed after having a family and juggling everything that goes with that.”
“International Women’s Day is a great day to focus on women in the workplace, recognise and celebrate our achievements. But it’s something that Calibre does every day. We’re always thinking about our women.”
Senior Talent & Acquisition Partner
An engineer for over 30 years, Chris Wrathall has held numerous roles in New Zealand and in the UK. Throughout his career he’s had positive experiences working with women in the industry, starting in the early 1990s in his first job where he worked with four senior women in an organisation making up a 50/50 split of management and leadership.
“Women have a better EQ, and over the years when I’ve been in positions to recruit, particularly for leadership roles, I’ve found this EQ has gone a long way.”
“There is no glass ceiling here [at Calibre] for women who wish to progress. Anyone can be supported to progress their career and develop themselves if they choose to do so”.
Principal - Advisory
As People and Capability Leader and a member of the Senior Leadership Team, Leisha Holliday is passionate about diversity and inclusion in the engineering industry and particularly keen to see more young girls choosing to work in a great profession.
“It’s been really great to be part of the Diversity Agenda Accord and help to make a difference across our industry. Calibre is committed to this and each of us are doing our part to hopefully achieve positive change.”
“We are working on some exciting internal initiatives as part of the agenda, including launching our own Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Group with key focus areas such as engineering as a profession for girls and women. We continue to build on these initiatives and we’re focused not only on the low hanging fruit, but the long-term change. I think if each business can have some long-term goals that are going to help shape the industry, then collectively we can achieve change in this area.”
“There are a lot of small things we can do as a business, but there is also a big shift needed – collectively across industry, as education providers and as parents, so that our young girls can see the many different options available rather than the traditional options that have always been presented to them.”
People and Capability Leader