The atmosphere was a buzz of positivity and excitement as I walked in to the beautiful conference room of 8 Northumberland Avenue last Tuesday(6th March 2018). There were hundreds of women gathered to discuss what it is to be a female working in the construction industry, and how we can help change the image of construction from an outdated white-male-dominated profession, to that of diversity, opportunity and digital revolution.
For the majority of the day I stayed in the main conference area, however there were options available to branch off and take part in workshops or attend more personal presentations. My interpretation was that the main area had been intended to focus on organisational change, whilst the additional sessions were based more on personal development; however this was not entirely clear on the programme.
Some of the presentations were truly inspirational, and the balance between personal experience and objective industry statistics was well maintained. I particularly enjoyed Katrina Dowding, Executive Vice President of Skanska, and Ceri Evans, Commercial Director at Jacobs, taking us through the journeys of their careers, and reminding us that determination, hard work and a positive attitude provide the strongest structures for success, regardless of gender or number of years in the industry. Kate Hall and Alice Jennison’s shared presentation on practical approaches to increasing gender diversity at HS2, and how clients can help to drive initiative and reap the rewards, was inspiring and reassuring. If anything, a little more of this type of content would have been brilliant.
For next year we just need to figure out how to get more men in to the room!