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Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity in Engineering

diversity in engineering

We sat down to talk to Major Projects Quality Director at Balfour Beatty, Amanda McKay, to discuss her varied career and the challenges she faces as a transgender woman >


EMMA JAYNE GOOCH Head of Supply Chain Development & Innovation at Sellafield explains why there should be more women at board level >

Inspirational People Breaking Barriers and Building Bridges

Morson prides itself on being an equal opportunities employer that provides an inclusive environment to candidates and employees alike. We believe that diversity of thought promotes
innovation by bringing multiple perspectives to discussions and decisions.

In 2017 we launched our women in engineering pledge to double the number of female contractors by 2020 (on Women in Engineering day 2017 this stood at 7.5% of our contractor population).

We regularly profile the success stories of females within our industry highlighting the wide variety of careers in engineering and importantly, changing the perception of our industry from that of a male-dominated one to an inclusive and change-making industry.

We have been privileged enough to interview some of the most talented women in the engineering industry, exploring their career paths, challenges and inspirations to highlight the careers available to the next generation. 

Latest articles

► Balfour Beatty's Amanda McKay Talks LGBT Diversity in Engineering

► Senior Systems Engineer at Thales, Estel Dandridge, Talks Us Through Her Involvement in Developing Aria Technology with Oman Air

► Morson Vital Training and the Girls Network spark engineering interest in a new generation of young people | #CareersOnTrack

►  Morson Sponsor the Big Rail Diversity Games

► Jet-setting Chemical Engineering Career Sees Anna Travel the World

  

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Our YouTube channel explores the varied career's of some of our industry's most inspiring individuals, or continue to our diversity and inclusion blog to get the latest thought leadership, videos and content. 


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    The Big Rail Diversity Games

    Last week our Morson rail colleagues had the pleasure of sponsoring and attending the 2018 Big Rail Diversity Games, an event which provides participants with a unique opportunity to network and team build whilst fundraising. The event delivers fun gender-balanced team challenges showcasing women performing in roles that are perceived as ‘non-traditional’ whilst promoting Women in Rail’s key message: Gender Diversity Better for People, Better for Business, Better for Rail Described as a cross between ‘It’s a Knockout’ and ‘Krypton Factor’, the event consisted of a series of fun physical and mental challenges – undertaken by teams with a gender balance of 50% female and 50% male. Morson was proud to be the key sponsors and entered an intrepid team of 8 who joined hundreds of others in giant inflatable challenges. We caught up with one part of Team Morson, Peter Jackson, Morson’s Client Development Manager for Rail: “The guys today have been involved in a quite diverse array of activities, hovercraft, inflatable obstacle courses and challenges, climbing walls, bouncy castle volleyball, a zumber competition and archery.” “We’ve had a great day, and it was a great opportunity for the team to bond. People from various areas of our company, across the country, have had the opportunity to get together and it’s gone really well.” “We‘ve got quite a diverse team representing Morson here today and it’s very important for them to be able to engage with the rest of the rail industry, to speak to people from across the industry, from varying disciplines and different companies to learn more about the diversity that exists within rail.” Speaking about Morson’s commitment to gender diversity: “One of the big things that our CEO has pledged to the industry and to the wider Women in Engineering piece is to double the number of engineering contractors that are women. This shows where we are as an industry and how far we’ve come.” Watch the video to see highlights of the event. To find out more about our Women in Engineering pledge, click here.

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    Anisah Khaliq shares her experiences of diversity and inclusion in Higher Education

    Our new starter and Client Engagement Co-ordinator, Anisah K discusses diversity and inclusion in Higher Education... As an ethnic minority, I have always been inquisitive about the need for Equality and Diversity Monitoring. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had to fill in extra forms when completing questionnaires, applying for jobs, enrolling in academic institutions and even when receiving treatment on the NHS. It’s always brought to mind a plethora of questions. How will they be used? Who will see the answers? Will my answers be used against me? Why does it need to be monitored in the first place? Surely, we’re all humans and should be treated individually as such?. I told you I wasn’t joking when I said I have a lot of questions! Being the inquisitorial soul that I am, I set out to find some answers. I knew if I straight up asked someone those questions, they’d probably get sick of me. So, in a softer approach, I asked my university’s Inclusion and Diversity team if I could spend a week with them. Here’s what it taught me. E&D doesn’t just take place when filling out forms. I sat in on a meeting in regards to Professorial Promotion Workshops designed to ensure equality for staff, particularly staff with protected characteristics, wanting to pursue promotions. It quickly became apparent that my experience of E&D was limited to my own experiences and I could not fathom some of the protected characteristics that weren’t directly relevant to me such as gender reassignment and disability. I was also involved in seeing how Equality Impact Assessments are used to ensure that changes in policy or projects carried out by the university do not discriminate against protected groups. I learned the difference between positive action and positive discrimination. An example of positive action would be where ‘excellent’ BAME candidates are interviewed before excellent White candidates. Whereas, positive discrimination would occur when a ‘good’ BAME candidate is interviewed before an ‘excellent’ White candidate. Being a millennial, it was no surprise to learn that there was a high turnover for staff aged 35 and under. I was tasked with reviewing millennial drivers – things that millennials want from their jobs and how to incorporate this into practice. But the bigger picture involves understanding why under 35’s resign from their jobs and whether the job description and person specification contain any inclusive language which promotes millennial drivers or information which may hinder the retention of these staff. Other actions for the university to take involve reviewing how to improve the recruitment process, conducting and reviewing leaving interviews and surveys, and considering other programmes such as apprenticeships and internships. Taking the focus away from recruitment, the university launched ‘Salford Inclusion & Diversity Week’ with the theme of culture and faith differences. A multitude of events and initiatives were held including Diversity Downloads, a BAME Graduate Employment Roundtable I got involved with, where students were able to meet with employers across the North West to discuss barriers into employment that BAME graduates may face. There were also tours of the faith centre held by the Chaplaincy team, the launch of gender-neutral toilets in the ‘Just a Toilet’ campaign. The week closed with the Role Models session led by the university’s Chancellor, Jackie Kay, in which students, staff, and alumni gave talks on their personal experiences of culture and faith differences. The week gave me a chance to inquire about the ‘BME Attainment Gap’. I had actually never heard of it until a few months ago. From a personal cultural perspective, I knew of more British Asians that decided to attend university than their white counterparts. But then it dawned upon me – as a student rep, I’d often have more negative feedback from BAME students about their experiences of university and complaints in regards of their assignment feedback or grades. The work experience week taught me about the procedures in place to ensure fair marking and moderation of assessments. The roundtable I attended in November as part of Salford Inclusion and Diversity Week taught me the ways to overcome barriers I may face as a BAME individual. Furthermore, in 2016, the university was successfully awarded the Athena SWAN Bronze Award as recognition for its commitment to gender equality. The university continues to work towards the Silver Institutional Awards which has enabled some key achievements. Achievements include the launch of Women’s Voice and the launch of self-assessment teams within each school and Professional Services to review diversity-related data and tackle the barriers to female career progression in a proactive manner. Additionally, there has been greater emphasis on the I&D team and their new addition, a Graduate Intern, in the support of the institution-wide delivery of the I&D Strategy. My experience as a whole has helped to broaden my experiences and understanding by being involved with different aspects of I&D. I have witnessed first-hand the work that goes on behind the scenes at the university, and the impact it will have. While my time here as a student comes to an end, it will be interesting seeing the changes as the university transforms into a more inclusive institution, benefitting the students and staff, both present and future. To read more about diversity and inclusion at Morson, click here.

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    Morson Signs ‘Greater Manchester is Working Forward’ Pledge to End Maternity and Paternity Discrimination

    Morson was proud to attend the Greater Manchester is Working Forward event on Friday which highlighted the importance of diversity in the workplace with a particular focus on gender equality and working parents. TV presenter Helen Skelton, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and a number of business leaders came together to celebrate Greater Manchester’s commitment to ending pregnancy, maternity and paternity discrimination. Working Forward is a nationwide campaign which is backed by a number of the UK’s leading businesses to make the workplace the best it can be for pregnant women and new parents. Along with some of the biggest names in business, Morson is delighted to pledge its commitment to ending pregnancy, paternity and maternity discrimination in the workplace by signing the Working Forward business pledge and are now part of the growing community. Attendees discussed how businesses manage pregnancy, maternity, paternity and flexible working along with some of the challenges employers encounter and how to combat these challenges. Morson’s Talent Acquisition Partner, Kirsty Wilson signed the pledge on behalf of Morson Group and said: “The Working Forward seminar was a fantastic event with powerful and inspiring stories shared throughout the morning. By pledging our support to Working Forward we commit to making Morson supportive for pregnant women and new parents. We hope we can lead in this best practice and work to end maternity and paternity discrimination, not only within our business but within the industries we work.” Special guests, Jodi Birkett, Partner at Deloitte UK, Chithra Marsh, Associate Director at Buttress Architect, Louis Georgiou, MD of Code Computer Love and Lynne Fish, Senior HR Manager at Suez sat on the panel and questions were posed to a panel of experts ranging from Authors to Employment Solicitors. To read more about our commitment to diversity and inclusion, click here.

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    Morson Vital Training and the Girls Network spark engineering interest in a new generation of young people | #CareersOnTrack

    Morson Vital Training was delighted to host the Girls Network, for the #careersontrack event this week where students from St Ambrose School visited our rail training facility in Salford. The year 10 and 12 pupils from St Ambrose spent an afternoon at Morson Vital Training, gaining practical experience of rail safety and skills and exploring opportunities in engineering. The girls stepped inside the Morson/Vital safety unit and receive a safety briefing where various types of equipment and safety innovations were demonstrated. They then followed Training Support Manager, Andy Robinson, out onto the Vital training track in full PPE where they were briefed about the job roles and responsibilities that come working within the rail industry. Andrew Robinson, Vital’s Training Support Manager was extremely pleased with the level of engagement he felt from the group: “Hopefully we have achieved our goal of sparking some engineering interest in a new generation of young people.” A presentation about what a career on track involves and an interactive Q&A was delivered by our Head of Vital Training, Matt Leavis and HR Business Partner, Lorraine Reece. The ‘Careers on Track’ event was a great opportunity for the girls to understand and learn more about the career paths which are available to them in engineering sectors, specifically rail. Positively some of the girls came away from the event considering apprenticeships in the engineering world. For many, the event ‘opened their eyes’ to engineering and for one pupil the event has spurred her on to realising her dream to become a construction engineer and encourage more women into the profession. ​ To search for your opportunity in Rail, click here. Or to find out more about Morson Vital Training and apprenticeships, visit our website.

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    Morson Launch Forces Resettlement Guide with Veteran Andy Reid

    Andy Reid's Resettlement Plan | Morson are thrilled to launch our recruitment resettlement guide on the centenary of the RAF. Written in partnership with veteran and Morson Forces Ambassador Andy Reid, the guide aims to aid ex-forces members transition to civilian employment. Including features such as 'Preparing to Leave the Armed Forces - Andy's Ten Step Guide' plus CV and interview tips and more light hearted content such as the 'Armed Forces to Civvy Jargon Buster' the plan aims to be informative and relatable. Click here to get your copy of Andy Reid's Resettlement Plan Speaking about the project Andy reiterated how passionate he is about using his personal experiences to support veterans once they leave the armed forces - As a veteran of The 3rd Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment and Morson Forces Ambassador, I know first-hand how difficult it can be to transition from the armed forces into a normal, civilian life. Ex-forces personnel have a lot to offer in the civilian world, often in ways they won’t immediately realise. It is my aim to bridge the gap between these two worlds so veterans are ready to become skilled, sought-after candidates ready to transition into work. One of the main things I noticed when appearing at career transition events as a Morson forces ambassador is the language barrier between ex-forces personnel and the recruiters who are looking to help them. This guide is designed to offer some help to veterans as they look to take their first steps in the civilian world. In particular, I’ll walk you through some of my top tips for preparing to leave the armed forces. I attend careers events with Morson across the country, so come along and we’ll help you take those first steps into your new life. Click here to get your copy of Andy's Resettlement Plan. Get #MoreFromMorson and search our latest jobs or to find out more about how Morson can support ex-forces personnel, visit our Morson Forces page.

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    Thales Aria Technology Takes Flight with Oman Air | Senior Systems Engineer Estel Dandridge Talks Us Through the Project and Her Career

    Thales’ project with Oman Air is drawing to a successful close thanks to skilled senior systems project engineer, Estel Dandridge. Estel has led a global team developing a new signature GUI, branded ‘OMAN Aria’, for the airline’s HOV 3-class Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners; with the same integrated in-flight entertainment system also destined for its B737 MAX, B737 NG, A330 and 2C 787 aircrafts before the end of 2018. “As we speak, the cutting edge 787-9 is on its test flight with a team of Thales engineers observing the new technology in action,” explains Estel. “We’re working to avoid a dark flight, which in industry terms means a technology failure. But we’ve completed enough testing and perfecting to be sure that this won’t happen.” As the project’s solution engineering manager (SEM), Estel managed a team of Thales software engineers, programme managers, media managers and more based in Irvine, CA and Bordeaux, France, to ensure Aria’s delivery aligned with Omar Air’s 2030 vision of delivering the latest technology and ultimately providing customers with the best experience as soon as they step on board. Excelling in Maths and Science, Estel took a chance on a College subject that would provide the best future prospects. “Growing up, it was always drilled into us that technology was the future,” continues Estel. “When it came to my College application, I looked down the list of degrees and thought, right, what’s going to get me a job at the end? I knew that software skills were in high demand and chose Computer Science without any fear of failure or thinking that a woman couldn’t do it. “Too many degrees leave it very vague in what job you’ll get at the end of it, and whilst people have different reasons for going to College, for me it was about making sure I got a good job. My advice to anyone is to work hard and focus. Don’t not pick something because you’re afraid that you’ll fail; it’s all about being determined and working hard. “Being the only female in my classes at Cal State LA was intimidating at the beginning as you long for a sense of belonging, but knowing that I was getting As and Bs in a subject that was so challenging and that people were dropping out because it was so hard, gave me a real drive to succeed.” It’s this same drive that continues to push Estel to learn new things, evolve and develop. During her 9+ years with global technology giant, IBM, she describes how she successfully transitioned from someone behind a computer to a project leader. Estel continues: “Those sat behind a computer coding have a certain personality and progressing to a project leadership role meant I really had to grow and develop. These weren’t skills that you learn at school and I’m really proud of myself for developing into a leader and passing my project management professional (PMP) certificate. “A lot of the engineers here at Thales have mechanical and electrical backgrounds, yet I’m quite unique in that I was purely software. Whilst it wasn’t software that was being put on an aircraft, the principles are still the same. “I’ve been with the company for three years now and every project I’ve worked on has been bigger than the last as my industry experience grows. I see a long future with Thales and the nature of what we do means that you always have the chance to reinvent yourself and you are never done learning.” Morson International are the UK's No.1 Aerospace Recruiter, with hundreds of jobs in aviation click here to find your next opportunity.

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    Digital Disruption: Project Design Authority Transforms In-flight Experiences

    Ivy Man is part of a team of highly skilled software engineers dedicated to revolutionizing the flying experience of Emirates’ customers as part of a four-year development programme with the aviation giant. Based out of Thales US’ Irvine, CA base, the Emirates Project Design Authority is spearheading the Engineering team working on the Boeing 777X aircraft; one of the largest projects that it has ever worked on. Ivy explains: “I can’t really say too much about the project due to confidentiality reasons, but what I will say is that the work we’re doing will transform the passenger experience of flying with Emirates; not just inflight but every touchpoint that the customer has before they even climb on board to after they’ve landed.” As design authority for the programme, its Ivy’s responsibility to define the scope and definition for the deliverables and different solutions, interface with engineers and programmers on the technical teams as well as manage budgets, resource planning, scheduling and more. “We’re approaching a critical stage of development so I’m frequently on conference calls and in meetings liaising with key stakeholders around the globe to ensure we’re all working collaboratively towards common goals, activities and deadlines,” continues Ivy. “There isn’t room for a traditional working day on this project as the 11-hour time difference with Emirates’ Dubai HQ can see me on calls from 7 am through to 9 pm.” Having moved to the US from Hong Kong aged 18, Ivy studied Mathematics at Boise State University, ID, before completing her Masters in Computer Science at the University of Colorado. Ivy continues: “Looking back, it really was my dad who has really inspired me to reach where I am today. Our family was never rich but he worked hard so I could come to the US for my education, and a lot of the traits and attributes that I have today, I value to him and his guidance.” Having first worked as a software engineer throughout various roles, Ivy joined Thales in 2005 as a Principal Software Engineer. Her 13-year career with the company has seen her take on various roles and progress throughout the business to her current position as Project Design Authority. Ivy added: “When I first joined Thales I was working in a very small defined area of software. As my knowledge and experience has grown, I’ve gained more of an understanding of the larger components to see how everything fits together and take on more responsibility as a bigger picture thinker." “This project is one of the most challenging that we’ve ever worked on here at Thales and it’s great that my 13-year career has led me to here. I love the complexity of the programme; I’m not only exposed to new areas and opportunities to learn but the demands pushes us to the next level to test and implement new technology and features that have never done before." “Every decision that I’ve made has led me to where I am today. You never know what new things you and your team are going to create and develop to make tasks better and I love this variety and the unknown of what the future holds.” Morson International is the UK's No.1 Aerospace Recruiter, with hundreds of jobs in aviation click here to find your next opportunity.

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    Morson on Target to Double Female Engineering Contractors by 2020

    Following last year’s pledge from Morson International to double the number of female engineering contractors that it employs by 2020, the top technical recruiter is on track to surpass its target. Current workforce ratios show that 13.8 per cent of all Morson’s engineering contractors are now female compared to 7.5 per cent this time last year; indicating that its commitment to creating a more diverse talent pool is paying dividends. With a number of major infrastructure projects now on site and progressing towards their peak, including HS2 and Hinkley Point C, the demand for engineers continues to outstrip supply. According to the Women’s Engineering Society, the UK needs to significantly increase the number of people with engineering skills, with estimates suggesting that we need to at least double the number who are already studying engineering-related subjects. Adrian Adair, operations director at Morson International, comments: “It’s inspiring to see significant progress made already. It’s crucial that we source the highly skilled workforce that the engineering sector needs, but it’s clear that as an industry, we need more diversity. By inspiring underrepresented groups, particularly women, as well as promoting opportunities that resonate with different races, ages, backgrounds, geographic locations and more, we hope to create a healthy talent pool for future engineering projects and one which is more diverse and more inclusive.” Morson recently held a #CareersOnTrack event, aimed at addressing the skills shortage and lack of diversity in the rail industry. The event saw girls aged 14-17 visit Morson Vital Training’s education hub in Salford, giving them the opportunity to step foot on its replica track and learn more about the rail industry and its various careers. As part of Morson’s pledge to ensure the modern workforce is more gender diverse by 2020, the recruiter is also supporting career switching by helping candidates outside of engineering recognise the transferable skills that they already possess for a successful career in the sector. Adrian continues: “Leveraging transferable skills opens up new opportunities across a choice of industries and locations, as well as presenting possible progression paths by capitalising on skills in high demand." “There are a number of similar stand out initiatives that are working to stamp out the stereotypes in engineering and wider STEM subjects, such as the IET’s #SmashStereotypesToBits, and it’s this collective drive and focus from throughout the industry that will encourage more diverse recruitment.” For more information on Morson’s Women in Engineering campaign, visit http://project.morson.com/women-in-engineering. Join the conversation using the hashtag #MorsonWiE

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    Balfour Beatty's Amanda McKay Talks LGBT Diversity in Engineering

    We sat down to talk to Major Projects Quality Director at Balfour Beatty, Amanda McKay, to discuss her varied career and the challenges she faces as a transgender woman. Amanda started her career with a passion for geology and after securing her degree she worked as a mining engineer. Her career trajectory took a turn as she then spent 15 years in the army serving in Northern Ireland and Iraq, followed by 22 years as a special constable. Years of wide and varied experience led back to her engineering roots and with Balfour Beatty she now specialises in nuclear new build developments. As Major Projects Quality Director she leads a team of engineers, working on some of the most innovative projects in the UK such as Hinkley Point C. Speaking about her decision to find the courage to become Amanda 5 years ago, we discussed the barriers she experienced with regards to job opportunities and her career prospects: “One of my biggest fears was that in transitioning I would basically put myself off the job market and my career would either stagnate or end.” Amanda discussed how she was faced with ‘a glass ceiling’ in her previous role, not only because she was transgender but because she was female. Attracting a more diverse employee demographic has become a major priority for many organisations, particularly those in traditionally male-dominated sectors such as engineering, nuclear, IT and construction. But the drive to improve gender balance has to go beyond lip service or diversity targets; it must be embedded in a company’s employment culture. She describes how she was unfairly confronted with rejected applications for many roles in the construction industry, even though she had unquestionable experience and dedication to her profession. I had a CV which I'd never failed to get at least an interview with. 20 jobs I've applied for in my life and I've got 15 of them, which I think is a pretty good strike rate. All of a sudden my CV didn't open doors. Interviews were more of a curiosity pitch and that was really really challenging. All of a sudden she was faced with a CV that instead of opening doors, unfortunately, had the opposite effect. That was until she decided to make the move and join Balfour Beatty. She explains: “On joining Balfour Beatty, I found they had a completely different attitude, they recruited me because of my skill set and for what I brought to the company.” We asked Amanda, what does inclusivity mean to you? “Really what it means is that everybody has a say, everybody is treated equally in an organisation and it doesn’t matter who they are or where they come from or how they identify, they are part of the team.” Looking forward, Amanda has a range of career ambitions and she talks to us about the opportunities that HS2 and Hinkley Point C will bring: Most of my work at the moment is around nuclear new-build of which there's really only one project in the UK (Hinkley Point C). If it gains a little bit more traction and the other projects start then I see myself as leading a larger team doing what I'm doing now probably on multiple new build projects. If it doesn't, I think we'll be moving back towards our core work around decommissioning nuclear projects. But I also now look after Balfour Beatty tunneling projects and our HS2 work as well, so I've got a number of strands not just doing nuclear as I did when I started with Balfour Beatty. HS2 will be an interesting project as will some of the tunnelling one. We're working on the Thames Tideway project in London which is currently a television show on BBC Two about the early years that's been challenging but very interesting. Morson is committed to creating a truly inclusive environment for all employees, clients and candidates. We’ve already signed the ‘Inclusive Culture Pledge’ developed by diversity consultancy, EW Group, to help companies of all kinds to focus on areas of their business that will help them create a stronger working environment where diversity and inclusivity are prioritised and empowered. The move is designed to help us continue to implement the positive continuous change needed to achieve our goal of doubling the number of female contractors we hire by 2020. Gender diversity in the workplace has come a long way since the era of the typing pool and the all-male boardroom but there’s still a long way to go. Even just starting conversations surrounding diversity in the workplace can go a long way into implementing the real change that is required. At Morson, we’re clearly focused on making that positive change happen, for our own business and our clients. Watch the full video to find out more about Amanda’s inspirational journey and her thoughts on diversity in the workplace. To get #MoreFromMorson including our latest updates, blogs and news follow @MorsonGroup on Twitter.

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    Improving Diversity in the Rail Industry | #SkillsOnTrack

    With Manchester Pride weekend around the corner, we take a closer look at Diversity in the Rail industry and the effect that improving diversity may have on the challenging skills gap. DIVERSITY IN RAIL HS2 will create sustainable job opportunities for local people, young people and those from diverse groups. Providing rewarding jobs and careers that are open to all in society, setting new standards for equality, diversity and inclusion and providing a legacy of skills, learning, expertise, and experience. Changing the perceptions of engineering and removing the barriers that people face, especially females, will make the workplace more inclusive, equal and deliver a stronger, more sustainable industry. Currently, just 4% of UK rail engineers are (Image sourced via Manchester Metrolink) female, the lowest rate in Europe. HS2 Ltd specifies a number of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) requirements that its supply chain must adopt including: Developing a diverse supply chain Advertising roles and supplier opportunities more widely Delivering tailored training opportunities Promoting workforce welfare Removing barriers to inclusive employment practices ​ The project aims to inspire groups traditionally lacking in STEM subjects and enable the take up of roles within the supply chain for local, diverse and under-represented groups. THE SOLUTION EDI is part of the solution to address the skills and talent shortage as a diverse workforce is proven to boost creativity, promote innovation and increase profitability. If we are to compete with other industries and attract the best talent then EDI must be at the heart of the decision-making processes of the entire supply chain, not just the few. We already employ a number of techniques to improve diversity and inclusion within Morson International and those of our clients including unconscious bias training for our recruitment teams and CV anonymisation. Download our whitepaper to read more about the solutions that are needed if we are to achieve HS2’s vision of being a catalyst for growth across Britain. Or click here to find your opportunity on HS2.

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    VolkerWessels UK's Hollie Woodard Talks Diversity In Engineering

    As part of our diversity in engineering series, Morson spoke to Hollie Woodard, Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at VolkerWessels UK. Hollie started her career in rail administration but has changed multiple times since, moving into commercial and a quantity surveyor role and then project management. She reflects on the state of the industry and how things have developed since she started: "When I started, there were definitely less women in senior roles, so for me there weren't many role models for people who were in roles other than admin or support roles. That's starting to change. In some of our businesses we've got a female head of engineering, a female pre-contracts director. So seeing those people in those roles is something that's definitely changed over the years. We're also seeing more females come in through the apprenticeship and graduate route. For example, in our VolkerRail business we've got female apprentices who are studying the overhead line discipline." Hollie started her current role in October 2017. It wasn't a role that existed at the company initially, but she worked with the senior management team and directors within the business to devise a role that she felt was required within the business. "A typical day involves a lot of liasing with other departments like HR, the bid teams, our directors, business MD's and also learning and development. We're looking at the strategy tat we want to implement and how we might want to roll that out to each business unit." With her career being so varied, Hollie has had to draw on a lot of different skills at different times. When asked what the key skill or attribute required for her current role, she says: "Passion. If you're passionate, it helps you with the role, helps you deliver it and also explain why it's important to other people. My previous role as a project manager in the rail industry, being often the only female in meetings or on site, has helped me really want to have that passion for wanting to make the picture look quite different in the future. People skills are always useful, along with communication skills. A lot of the new role involves explaining to people and communicating to people in different ways about what the benefit might be to them and to the business and helping them understand that." Hollie sees her newly created role as one of many steps towards building a different, more diverse working culture. "We recognise as an industry we need to do things differently. We recognise that we've not got enough people coming into the industry to futureproof and deliver the projects of the future. How can we do things differently to attract people to our industry as a career of choice? There are some campaigns that we're doing with our regular recruitment partners looking at how we change our job adverts, looking at how we change the language in our job adverts for example. That might be things like using gender neutral language, making sure we're not specifying if we need certain years experience to attract more people that might be put off by that." Hollie would ideally like to see like to see her role become almost not requried in terms of trying to bring more females into the industry, but still sees its inception as a new position one of her real highlights: My biggest achievement in my career would probably be having this role approved by the board! This role didn't exist this time last year and it was a real step change for us to have this position, so to be able to approach the board and be able to ask them to let me drive this forward for our business was a real achievement for me. In additon to that as a project manager and quantity surveyor, earlier on in my career I was recognised by Women in Rail as one of the 20 most inspirational women in rail, which was lovely because I was nominated by my peers. In 2017 I was also shortlisted for the Northern Power Women 'One to Watch' category.

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    Making Diversity Synonymous With Success

    Soon to mark 50 years in business, much of Morson International’s journey from a bedroom-born recruiter established in 1969 to a global leader in technical sectors, rests on our ability to remain agile and adapt to the evolving needs of our clients, contractors, candidates and employees. Equality, diversity and inclusion (ED&I) remain hot topics, especially when analysing representation, or the often thereby lack of, at the top, and we’re working hard to ensure that ED&I becomes part of the norm by changing the conversation. A lack of diversity has created an imbalance in many of the sectors that we operate in, such as engineering, aerospace, IT, rail, nuclear and construction, and we’ve witnessed first-hand how females, LGBTQ+ and ethnic minorities have been underrepresented, particularly at senior level. Change is Coming Within our own business, we strive to ensure that our workforce represents our customers and society as a whole, which means recruiting from the widest talent pool possible and giving our people the tools, drivers and learning opportunities to thrive and reach their full potential, from entry through to board level. We are ferociously challenging stereotypes to build diverse workforces that drive innovative ideas, change the status quo and raise the bar for success. Including inclusivity as one of our core company values ensures that we do everything possible to provide a fair, open and equal culture from the top down and bottom up so that ED&I touches every part of what we do. We also excel in the levels of diversity amongst our senior management and to ensure our board of the future replicates this same forward-thinking approach to talent irrespective of their gender, race, sexuality, age, religion and belief, and more, we run an ongoing mentoring programme with our leaders who possess the drive to reach the top. Diversity breeds innovation, productivity and drives commercial earnings, and we work in partnership with a number of our clients to champion their own ED&I programmes, by giving everyone a voice and developing cultures that embrace change and outperform their peers. The Diversity and Leadership Exchange Maintaining an equal, diverse and inclusive workforce is part of Morson International’s DNA. As one of the most respected names in recruitment, we’ve built a business that delivers excellence for our employees, candidates, contractors and clients. Improving diversity, particularly in leadership positions, is good for business, yet many technical sectors still lack gender and ethnic diversity at senior level. We’re hosting a unique panel event which brings together world-class leaders from various professions and industries to share their own stories and insights on leadership behaviours to create inclusive cultures, lead successfully diverse teams and develop environments where all staff can thrive and reach their full potential. Our panel includes: Anna Delveccio, FTA Everywomen Transport and Logistics Woman of the Year 2018. A champion for women in transport who began her illustrious engineering career aged just 15 and by her early 30s, was already appointed commercial account director for infrastructure giant, Amey Alex Rodick, client account manager at Stonewall, Europe’s largest LGBT charity. Alex's focus is on supporting the professional services industry to increase LGBT diversity in the workplace and ensure that individuals can reach their full potential. Simone Roche (MBE), CEO & Founder of Northern Power Women, Simone launched Northern Power Women out of a passion to connect and engage with people about gender equality. Adrian Adair, operations director, Morson International, Adrian is a major driving force behind Morson International’s diversification into new markets and transforming the brand into a global specialist in permanent and interim talent-based solutions. To achieve this, he has identified the future boardroom, ensuring it’s diverse, equal and inclusive. ​ We will be releasing the findings of the event in a video and write up which hopes to uncover the latest trends affecting business and how current and future leaders can navigate these issues to create more diverse teams that are engaged, productive and innovative, and ultimately drive business objectives. Show Your Support Tweet us using the hashtag #DiversityinLeadership and tag in @MorsonGroup

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