To address challenges faced by the infrastructure sector and attract a workforce fit for the future, it needs to be seen as a welcoming place that is diverse and inclusive, valuing wellbeing, innovation and career progression, says Stephen Selwood, CEO Infrastructure NZ
Given the widely publicised capacity constraints in the infrastructure sector, it is no surprise that a shortage of skills tops the list of the most critical challenges facing the industry.
‘On International Womens’ Day, Infrastructure NZ is proud to acknowledge the large number of our member organisations leading the way in making their businesses welcoming, diverse and inclusive’ says Selwood.
Selwood gives specifc recognition to the New Zealand Defence Force, Winners of the DiversityWorks Supreme Award for their Operation Respect programme, for creating a safe work culture for all staff. Fletcher Building, also a category winner, was awarded for their innovative solution for sourcing and selecting young employees to manage labour shortages, and give NZ youth a chance at a career.
‘Other Infrastructure NZ members such as Transdev, Auckland Council, Auckland Transport, CPB Contractors, Westpac, Aecom, ANZ, GHD, HSBC, KPMG, KiwiRail, Spark, Transpower and Vector were also acknowledged for their proactivity in driving inclusive cultures throughout their organisations’, notes Selwood. This is on top of initiatives that companies like Downer, Fulton Hogan and others are leading to provide opportunities to disadvantaged members of the community and unemployed youth.
‘We are delighted to see the leadership and commitment to future proofing the industry being demonstrated by our members.
‘By embracing diversity in its widest sense – recognising that differences in gender, ethnicity, age and providing opportunities for all regardless of difference or disability – is not just about providing equal opportunities for all, it is vital to addressing the skills and capability gap across the sector, and understanding the needs of the people that we serve.
Infrastructure NZ itself has been working hard to increase the gender diversity of the industry through the establishment of the Women’s Infrastructure Network (WIN) which now has 1300 members, spread across 7 chapters nationwide. WIN aims to increase the visibility of women in the infrastructure sector, grow the number of women in leadership roles and support those women already working in the sector. A recent survey of women in the infrastructure industry shows a high level of support for the WIN Network and chapters across the country.
Additionally, in the same survey, Infrastructure NZ was encouraged to find that
- 82% of organisations had goals to increase the representation of women
- 45% of organisations actively promoted flexible working arrangements, and another 36% accept flexible working arrangements
- 42% of organisations had undertaken some initiatives to address pay parity
- 17% of respondents felt that there were excellent opportunities for career growth and progression in the infrastructure industry, 39% good opportunities and 39% moderate opportunities.
‘But, despite these successes, there is more work to do and we cannot remain complacent’, says Selwood.
In the same survey, women of the infrastructure industry identified key barriers to progressing in the sector including; the male dominated industry, unconscious bias, few role models and a macho company culture.
Respondents felt that the best ways for overcoming these barriers included: changes to policies, the establishment of Womens’ networks, mentoring, providing role models and weeding out unconscious bias.
As a member of DiversityWorks, Infrastructure NZ is a strong advocate of member organisations developing diverse and inclusive workplaces by publicising clear targets and metrics on diversity, prioritising action and reporting externally to stakeholders.
‘We want the infrastructure sector to be the industry of choice’, says Selwood ‘and the home of the best and brightest minds.’