Taylor employees, industry partners, clients and university students heard from an esteemed panel of women leaders in construction on their own personal experiences in the industry, centred on the 2022 #BreaktheBias theme.
The panel, moderated by CEO of the Property Industry Foundation, Kate Mills, was focused on conversation between Alex O’Mara, Principal of the Sustainable Solutions Advisory, Kristine Marshall, Senior Project Manager, Taronga Conservation Society, Ziggy Napier, Head of Major Projects & Commercial, Sydney Opera House, and Taylor CEO George Bardas.
Each panellist opened up about the hurdles and challenges they had faced and overcome in the workplace, offering advice to the 120 women and men in attendance.
Covering topics such gender equity policies and industry targets, leadership and teamwork, and elevating the conversations beyond just women-focused events, the panel expressed their feelings:
“Equal representation isn’t just an outcome it’s also a pre-requisite to actually achieving equity,” expressed Ziggy Napier.
Kristine Marshall said: “We spend so much time with the people we work with, so we need to make sure we build positive relationships.” The panel agreed that collaborating with one’s team and understanding their balance of professional and personal priorities (particularly in a world with the pandemic, where work and home life cross so easily) is key to any meaningful and successful working relationship.
Touching on parental policies and working with children, Alex O’Mara added: “We need to think of parenting as a couple’s responsibility, rather than a woman’s responsibility – that’s really a thing that is going to increase women’s participation in the workforce.”
“One of the things that organisations can do is model that,” she explained.
George Bardas weighed in, sharing: “Men are changing, and they are changing because they grew up in an environment where fathers were often the power figure; there is a bit of a generational gap to overcome, but I’m a firm believer that we are talking about things in the right way now and checking ourselves.
“I’m hopeful that we’re moving in the right direction. I’m actually confident we are moving in the right direction, and I’m sure we will get there in 10 to 20 years.”
Bringing the panel discussion to a close, Kate Mills said: “More women at the top is good, but lifting more women from the bottom is better – because when I think about International Women’s Day, I don’t necessarily think about the women in this room. I think about women who live in developing nations. I think about women who have experienced domestic violence. I think about women across the whole board who face disadvantage.”
“How do we connect this conversation in here with that larger conversation out there? How can brands and corporations help?”
The panel shared the following recommendations:
- Set realistic and achievable targets and policies. If you don’t believe in them, nothing will happen.
- Encourage men to take paternity and child-caring leave.
- Be conscious of the decisions you make when hiring people, and decisions about project and role distributions; question your own potential bias.
- Consider what your organisation can do to promote STEM education for women and girls.
- Review your ESG policies and ensure your diversity policies are best-practice.
- Create more part-time positions and job-share opportunities where possible.
Concluding the discussion, George Bardas said: “To move forward together, we must educate ourselves and those around us. We all have a responsibility to take action on gender diversity in construction.”
Taylor would like to thank the incredible panelists Alex, Kate, Kristine and Ziggy for sharing their stories and the lessons they have learned as female leaders in construction.