On International Women In Engineering Day, Shanelle Blanck, acting National Talent Acquisition Lead at Arcadis, provides insights into how we can work towards a gender equal Engineering industry, and why it’s important beyond just celebrating today.
Tell us about your career.
I’ve been working in recruitment for ten years, and the last eight of those within the Transportation and Engineering space in Melbourne. I’m currently acting National Recruitment Lead for Arcadis, managing a team of 5-8 Talent Acquisition professionals providing end-to-end recruitment for the Arcadis business across Australia. I fell into the engineering industry while working in contract role and haven’t looked back. I love the challenge of working in an industry where I can have a true impact on gender equality, opening doors (or crashing down walls) and creating real opportunity for women and seeing them succeed.
From the perspective of a hiring manager in the Engineering industry, what are the challenges faced for women in this space?
Constantly challenging the status quo, keeping gender equality on the agenda all year round and not just on days of celebration, limiting tokenism, raising awareness of unconscious bias and educating others on how to manage it.
There’s opportunity for the industry to be more open to diversity of experience and hiring for potential. All too often in industry, we want someone who has the exact experience of their predecessor and overlook the untapped potential a person may have, the value their unique background will add to compliment the rest of the team and where they might be able to elevate that role or job, given the right support.
Reflecting on the theme of 'Inventors & Innovators', can you highlight some of the amazing work and achievements by women at Arcadis in engineering and technical roles?
Within our digital team, a senior female specialist has recently returned to Australia and brings with her a wealth of knowledge and innovative solutions. From her time with Arcadis in Europe she has bought back lessons learned and new technologies to implement within our projects. And in reverse of that, a few examples come to mind of females from the Australian business recently being promoted into global roles within Arcadis to implement system, technology, process or program improvements they have successfully managed here and are now about to scale into global concepts.
How do you #ImagineTheFuture of a 50/50 workforce?
When I imagine the future of a 50/50 workforce, I see more women in Engineering because they see more women in Engineering. I see a world where my daughters will view Engineering as an interesting and attractive career path because they are inspired by successful female role models and leaders. A few of the actions Arcadis have achieved to successfully increase diversity and inclusion include:
Refreshing policies such as flex working and parental leave. Recently removed the wait period to access parental leave which has really shifted the dial when talking to candidates who might not be considering a job change if family planning is in their 2-year plan. Why should women have to choose between starting a family and accepting a new job?
Implementing gender neutral parental leave policies; enhancing our shared care approach, encouraging male employees to participate in care responsibilities to empower partners to return to the workforce.
Strong focus on professional development for female employees. Fast track access to mentor and coaching programs, leadership courses and technical skills training, too.
Genuine commitment to pay equity from analysis at every new employee offer, to discrimination checks during annual compensation reviews.
Putting the spotlight on senior female leaders in the business. Getting them involved in the recruitment and selection process so prospective candidates can see there are some real mentors and role models to surround themselves by.
How can we as individuals, businesses and HR professionals within the sector contribute to positive change and help create a more diverse Engineering industry?
Take action. Ask yourself, what are you doing to drive diversity and make your workplace more inclusive and appealing? Whether it’s challenging your peers on gender stereotypes or normalising no meetings at school drop off times. There’s an action for everyone and it doesn’t just lie with HR or the CEO.