DUBAI – Global law firm Reed Smith and global consultancy HKA are proud to have completed a webinar series, titled Maximising female talent in construction, seeking to support the drive for greater gender diversity in the construction industry. The series brought together leading women in construction in the Middle East to share their experiences, challenges, successes, and insights.

Related Professionals: Michelle Nelson Alison Eslick

The webinars were designed for women currently working in or looking to enter the construction industry, including emerging talent, future leaders and those at the pinnacle of their careers.

Commenting on the series, Michelle Nelson, partner at Reed Smith, noted that it was clear from the opinions and experiences of the speakers that improving gender diversity in the construction industry requires a multi-faceted approach that addresses both systemic and cultural barriers.

She said: “I am extremely grateful for all of the speakers who shared their views on the challenges and barriers they have faced. From the discussions, it is clear that there is a need for proactive recruitment strategies aimed at attracting more women to the field. Additionally, combating stereotypes and biases within the industry is crucial. Not only should companies implement diversity training programs to promote inclusion and equity among their workforce but creating a supportive and inclusive workplace culture is essential to retaining female talent.

“Advocacy and awareness campaigns, along with partnerships with organizations dedicated to promoting gender diversity, can help shift societal perceptions of the industry and attract more women to pursue careers in construction. Overall, improving gender diversity in the construction industry requires a concerted effort from all stakeholders, including companies, educational institutions, and policymakers, to create a more inclusive and equitable environment where women can thrive and contribute their talents to the sector's growth and success.”

Acknowledging the positive changes in the region over recent years, HKA partner Clare Lavin said: “It was extremely insightful to speak about the enabling factors and remaining barriers with women who have broken the mould while forging careers in the sector. While there are still barriers to be broken and challenges around the mindset of women working in the industry, we can still feel positive about the steps being taken and the start of a shift in attitudes.”

The series included three webinars, comprised of:

  1. Attracting and retaining female talent in the construction industry: Speakers discussed barriers to overcoming gender disparities in the construction industry and shared best practices on attracting and retaining female talent.
  2. Breaking the mould - how women can succeed in the construction industry: The speakers explored various pertinent topics around retaining and supporting women in this sector, including onsite changes, how technological advances are bringing women front and centre stage, how kindness and empathy can go a long way, and the metaphorical barriers that might be holding women back.
  3. Pay it forward - why mentoring and male allyship matter for women in the construction industry: This webinar explored successful mentoring in the construction industry and why mentoring and allyship matter, with perspectives from mentors and mentees.

Reed Smith partner Michelle Nelson, senior associate Alison Eslick, and Partner at HKA Clare Lavin each moderated a panel.

Reed Smith and HKA would like to thank the speakers, Emma Seymour of Gratiya Advisory, Alison Watson MBE Founder of Class of Your Own Limited, Chris Bernard, Partner, Global People Recruitment & Equality, Diversity & Inclusion at HKA, Louise Collins, Regional Director Engineering & Energy and Country Director UAE at JLL, Syahrozanna Tee, Senior Architect / Workplace Designer at Global Energy Company, Billie Teshich Managing Director of OmniVision, Amanda Clack, Partner, CEO, EMEA at HKA, Jessika Nicholas ESG Advisor, and Atheel MallAllah, Senior Electrical Engineering Manager at Laing O'Rourke.