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Insights 6 ways our employees are correcting the gender balance.

Congratulations to Empower for winning the Employee Network Of the Year Award in Atkins, a member of the AtkinsRéalis Group. We're so proud of the tangible improvement they've made to gender parity in our organization. Laura Cruz-Garcia and Liz Smith, members of the Empower committee, share 6 ways Empower is redressing the gender balance.

this is an image of a team collecting awards

1. We're REALLY changing the organization's approach to gender balance

This year, the Network rebranded from the 'Women's Professional Network' to 'Empower.' In line with this, we evolved the strategy and goals to reflect this decade's progression in ED&I thinking. And in 2021 alone, Empower put on multiple events, completed studies into structural and systematic barriers to progression, contributed to policy and process refresh, engaged with the wider Network groups and influenced senior leadership in its decision making. 

2. We're shaping the conversation on work-life flexibility

The pandemic has brought our work and home lives closer together than ever before. Everyone, not just women, discovered the benefits of true flexible working and being at home more. Some people found it easier to have a better work-life balance. Others struggled with loneliness or childcare commitments. 

Empower helped to drive conversations on these topics we'd never really addressed before. Together with the wider business we're increasing our understanding, widened perspectives, and destigmatizing day-to-day commitments and distractions we all have.

3. We're collaborating with the organization on defined goals

Empower is making a big push in two areas: tackling barriers to progression towards women in senior leadership positions and promoting the need and value in allyship.

"We're tackling the idea that women are getting 'preferential treatment' through some of the diversity boosting initiatives. We should understand the concept of 'levelling the playing field' in response to this and challenge everything we do with this concept in mind. A level playing field should theoretically benefit everyone within the business."

We're also focused on doing a better job in turning proposed benefits of diversity into real, tangible change and improvement to the benefit of all, not just women. This is a real focus of our Empower Network and Atkins' ED&I programme.

4. We're reshaping our collective culture

One of Empower's core values is to enable women to bring their whole selves to work. This must extend to creating a working environment where everyone feels psychologically safe enough to do this. 

When we do this, we enable the diversity of thought. Everyone feels confident in contributing their skills, experiences and perspectives to the good of our business and clients. If we can leverage this across the whole organization, then we maximize the capability and competence of everyone.

5. We're taking a strategic and evidence-based approach

As an industry, we lack women in senior leadership and girls and women entering and remaining in STEM fields. The pace of change is frustrating. There’s a lot of work being done within early years careers but much less focus on making a real, meaningful change at more senior levels.
"There has never been more discussion around equality, diversity and inclusion, and we've seen a clear shift in attitudes. But, actual, measurable progress feels difficult to gauge beyond the obvious metrics, which can obscure the whole picture."

As most women in the Network are in their early-ish careers, conversations focus on improving things in years to come. However, when these women reach the senior level, they realize there are still significant barriers. So, we're focussing on implementing ways to measure performance and improvement against any diversity initiatives we implement.

this is an image of the women at AtkinsRéalis collecting an award

6. We believe that together, we can empower change

Bring yourself to work and don't wear a "mask." It's important everyone feels they can be themselves and not try to fit into a mould just because things have always been a certain way. For people to feel safe enough to do this, others need to be accepting and make people feel included. This encourages teamwork, idea generation and widening perspectives. 

Another important action is to understand what your unconscious biases are, and we all have some. So, don't introduce bias into your decision-making. It's essential to understand your biases. Do some deeper thinking about how they might play out at work and what you can do to counter this – whether it's during recruitment, assigning projects or inviting people to after-work events.

How about joining an organization that sees how gender imbalance impacts you and tackles it? Browse jobs and discover where you belong inside Atkins.