International Women’s Day webinar focuses on diversity and inclusion

08 Mar 2022

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Construction sector professionals from around the world gathered online at a FIDIC webinar on 8 March 2022 to discuss how design thinking can be used to drive diversity and inclusion across the industry.

This latest event in FIDIC’s annual series of webinars, entitled Using design thinking to increase diversity and inclusion, was organised to coincide with International Women’s Day and looked at using an integrated design approach and processes to create flexible diversity and inclusion solutions that are both fit for purpose and relevant to local conditions.

Introducing the event FIDIC CEO Nelson Ogunshakin said that FIDIC had been striving hard to improve the diversity of its board, committees and panels and had achieved some successes in the recent period. There was still work to be done, he said, but already it was noticeable that achieving greater diversity and inclusion had made a positive contribution to FIDIC’s work, Ogunshakin said.

Chair of the FIDIC Diversity and Inclusion Council Dr Michele Kruger said that she was delighted to be speaking at a webinar on diversity and inclusion on International Women’s Day. “Change is coming at us from all angles, the pace of change is speeding up and we need to apply this to diversity and inclusion to make progress quickly,” she said. She also highlighted the recently published FIDIC Diversity and Inclusion Policy and made the point that “companies that embrace diversity are more successful”. Kruger said that the new FIDIC policy was designed to stimulate a “D&I evolution” in companies to underline the importance of including diversity and inclusion amongst their values of each company/to engage companies on the application of practical actions to transition to D&I work environments.

Elisa Maceratini, an architect and urban planner at Keios Development Consulting in Italy, said that communication was critical in increasing diversity and inclusion and to this end it was important to have different voices at the table and in the workplace. “Listening to all voices is important and the success we achieve is down to an inclusive design process involving different construction disciplines and cultures,” she said. There was also a cost to not having a diverse industry as this could hamper the ability of the sector to address and sole diverse problems and challenges, she said. “We need to understand that achieving a diverse workforce is key to addressing the different challenges that we face on projects and the experience of working during the pandemic shows that a more collaborative approach is important too,” said Maceratini.

FIDIC board member and CEO of Kurrent Technologies James Mwangi, said that engineers needed to go out of their way to remove biases from projects in order to embrace a more diverse approach. In developing countries, there were particular challenges that needed to be addressed, said Mwangi, especially in relation to the urgency of delivering infrastructure and sometimes diversity was lost in the race to deliver. That is not to say that engineers have to wait until the issue is fully embraced and therefore discussions like this and also the FIDIC policy were important in making progress,” he said. Mwangi also highlighted the importance of emerging and young professionals in shaping the diversity agenda. “Typically, young professionals have more energy, are more willing to learn and are more uninhibited in their thinking, especially in the area of digital and technology,” he said.

Daduna Kokhreidze, FIDIC’s general counsel for legal and contracts, highlighted the need to create an environment where diversity and inclusion is welcomed. “We do this in FIDIC by monitoring our progress in these areas, especially in respect of the composition of our board and committees. If you don’t measure and monitor your progress then you can’t move forward,” she said.

Summing up the event, FIDIC CEO Nelson Ogunshakin paid tribute to Michele Kruger’s work as chair of the FIDIC Diversity and Inclusion Council, which had an increasingly important role to play in the future. “It’s really important that we talk about our successes in this area. When we make gains and steps forward then we need to talk about them – if we don’t, then how can people see our achievements and be inspired by them?” he said. Ogunshakin also highlighted the need for the industry to create an enabling environment as that was also crucial in facilitating change.

The next FIDIC online event is Going digital – did Covid teach us anything? - a FIDIC State of the World series webinar on Thursday 7 April 2022 at 12 noon CET. This webinar will launch FIDIC’s fifth report in its State of the World series and will explore how digital changes affect the industry, but also the wider landscape in which infrastructure will be operating in the future.

Click here for further information and to book a place at “Going digital – did Covid teach us anything?”.

Watch the full webinar recording on the link below.

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