Male to female ratio in construction and information and communication technology

11-29-2022

SER Magazine

The fact that everyone can participate and have equal opportunities in the labor market is not only important for employees. Companies also have every reason to start working consciously with this. In the construction and digital sector, the percentage of women in the top (sub) category is declining. Janine Beck (Capgemini Holland) and Rod Justine (Pam) discuss why this is so and what they are doing about it.

Text: Doreen Van Kestern

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Jeanine BeckCapgemini, Netherlands
Rod Justin
Rod Justinbam

Jeanine Beck, Managing Director of IT and consulting firm Capgemini Nederland, does not have to think long about the importance of a balanced gender balance in the ICT sector. “Hybrid teams lead to better business decisions and outcomes. Specifically in our sector, a female perspective is also essential to developing the right apps. Otherwise, you risk launching a product that doesn’t seem to work well for women.”
The construction industry is no different, says Rod Justin, CEO of the Royal Pam Group. “Our sector is indispensable in shaping a sustainable future. We can only play this role with a diverse workforce. Women make up 50 percent of the population. Diversity ensures more creativity and interest in collaboration in the company.”

The share of women is lagging behind in construction and ICT

This is the theory. In practice, the digital and construction sectors lag far behind when it comes to women’s representation. In the ICT field, only 17.2 percent of subsidiary companies are women and 6 percent of companies have a female CEO. Beck says this is partly because so few girls in our country take a technical course. “If only 10 percent of technology students are women, it’s hard to target 40 or 50 percent of women in technical professions.”
In construction, 15.4 percent of the subclass is made up of women and there is not a single woman CEO among the fifty largest construction companies in the Netherlands. Jost cites the sector’s image problem as one of the reasons. “We are notoriously a masculine and conservative sector, which is a very unattractive sector for female employees.”

More even distribution: how?

Peek sees a collective challenge to get more girls interested in MBO, HBO and WO education in technology and ICT. “It often goes wrong in high school. An example from my own life: I advised my daughters to do Math A. It was good enough, they could use it to study economics, for example. But that’s how all art studies end – when the students are of age Only 14 or 15. It is important that schools encourage girls more to choose appropriate subjects. By the way, my two daughters have just completed Mathematics B and are now pursuing technical studies.”

Justine fundamentally believes in leading by example. “Only if there are women promoting how important it is to work in construction, will the sector become more attractive to other women. That is why it is important that we now actually hire women for top and sub-top positions.” Beck believes the digital sector should sell itself better to women. “Illustrating that working in ICT is fun and rewarding. Emphasize the applications and social context of technology: There are many great examples of ICT use in healthcare and schools.”

Rod Joost: “Diversity is not possible without inclusion: a work environment where everyone is given the space to be themselves”

A work environment in which a woman feels at home is also essential. Yost: “Diversity is not possible without inclusion: a work climate in which everyone is given the space to be themselves. Otherwise, the people you hired with great difficulty will drop out disappointed.” Peek: “It means companies have to change habits that — sometimes unconsciously — make the atmosphere less inclusive. It also helps if flexibility in working hours is a given. It’s perfectly normal, for women and men, to take the kids to school first, though. for example “.

upward approach

BAM has made diversity and inclusion part of its sustainability strategy. Joosten: “Employees of the future want to be inspired by the company’s essential contribution to society.” Diversity in the construction company is not only about gender, but also about age, orientation, beliefs and origin.
The first step is to gain insight into the state of diversity and inclusion in the organization. “Insight and knowledge are required to implement the right policy. We consciously choose a bottom-up approach. For example, we survey digital engagement among all employees quarterly. Then we ask questions like: ‘Do you feel at home, what is leadership like and would you recommend BAM as an employer? In addition, in 2021 we will begin a biennial assessment of inclusiveness, across a random sample of all employees.”
In terms of gender equality, BAM aims to have 22 percent women in leadership represented by 2023: about 130 people run the company. “We adapt our recruitment, selection and appraisal processes with this goal in mind. We want to position ourselves as a woman-friendly company. When it comes to hiring at the top (sub), for example, we look beyond just people with a technical or architectural background “. Meanwhile, the company is working on a comprehensive business environment. “Managers have a job to ensure that. The coach points out the blind spots.”

Managers have a key role

Capgemini Group also focuses on diversity in the broadest sense of the word. Focus on the gender ratio: All layers of the organization, which has more than 350,000 employees in more than 50 countries, must be made up of 40 percent women by 2025. The target percentage of 30 percent applies to management by 2025. Overview Peek: “In the Netherlands the intake is fine and we also make it in the management team, but in the strata in between the percentage is down to 15 percent.”

Janine Beck: We help women rise to higher positions

So the task is to prevent women in the middle classes from leaving. We do this by helping them rise to higher positions. When filling in for internal promotions, we go structurally across all teams to prevent us from overlooking the good woman.” Geek notes that women often stop at the stage of life when they have young children. “Their assumption is that working less isn’t possible for us. This is unfortunate, because it is often possible to pass this period with specially designed solutions.

Another rather drastic measure is that Capgemini Netherlands will no longer recruit men for vacancies at the sub-level – they are open to candidates from abroad. Even if it means the job stays open for a longer period. “It sometimes leads to frustration and upset internally,” Peek says candidly. “Especially if great male candidates are put forward. At first I gave up once, but I regretted it almost immediately. If I can’t keep my back straight, how can I expect that from my employees?”
Female role models play a major role in politics. “We offer awards to female employees in innovative projects. This is an inspiration to other women.” The company also provides training to all employees in a managerial role to recognize and prevent unconscious biases. Managers also receive training on how to work with diverse teams. “Managers have a key role: they hire people, nominate employees for promotion and create a safe work environment .”

Exchange of experiences

BAM and Capgemini Netherlands participated in the dialogue meeting organized by the SER in November for companies operating in the construction sector and the digital sector that fall under the additional quota and target number law (see box). Yost: “These kinds of meetings are very helpful, because everyone in the sector is going through the same struggle.” Peek: “By exchanging work experience, you learn from each other. Especially from companies that do more than just edit texts of job postings.”
The new law makes no difference between BAM and Capgemini Netherlands. We already had targets and a plan for how we will work to achieve them. For us, it means above all becoming more transparent about our efforts. Beck says. Joosten: “We have always been convinced that we need to become more diverse in order to implement our sustainability strategy. The law is a nice helping hand, a call to action and acceleration.”


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