Diversity & Inclusion

2022 WIC Summit to focus on equal pay and unconscious bias on 25 October

The latest edition of the annual event will bring together regional speakers to discuss key topics including C-suite realities and challenges, and other key topics

Middle East Consultant’s Women in Construction (WIC) Summit will be lobbying for real change with regards to diversity and inclusion (D&I) in the built environment on 25 October 2022 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai. The event, which has evolved since its introduction in 2018, has adopted a new name to reflect its broader ongoing advocacy for change: Women in Construction Summit – Diversity & Inclusion.

The latest edition of the annual event will bring together regional speakers to discuss and present on key topics including fair renumeration, removing unconscious bias, C-suite realities and challenges, and other key topics. Registration is complementary but mandatory for professionals from the built environment.

Commenting on the event’s new name and how it will differ from previous editions, Paul Godfrey, Head of Content, Middle East Consultant explains, “Our awareness that many companies wanted to address a wider span of issues, and the growing appetite in the Middle East for a broader debate around aspects of ethnicity, equality and inclusion prompted this. This also means we have some very exciting new areas of debate at the event including a diversity workshop with three team leaders, who will help companies resolve diversity challenges on the spot.”

Read more about the Women in Construction Summit’s agenda on the dedicated website.

Discussing whether the industry has progressed noticeably in the years following the magazine’s first WIC event in 2018, Godfrey responds, “There is greater awareness of the issue than there was a couple of years ago, and it is now more widely discussed. Where we have seen something of a shift is that major companies are now running focused recruitment programmes, targeting female graduates across the STET disciplines.”

He adds, “Unfortunately, while there is progress in the gender debate, there is very little shift in terms of the diversity debates – in fact, when it comes to unequal pay across ethnicities, for example, construction companies are some of the biggest offenders.”

Asked about what some of the key issues the industry must tackle with regards to D&I, Godfrey notes, “Firstly, in the gender arena, they must overcome the middle manager syndrome – where women are encouraged on a career path, buy rarely make it to the level of VP or SVP, let alone progress to the C-Suite. As mentioned earlier, many firms still seem to pay according to race and ethnicity – believing that Asian expats, for example, can be paid less because even low salaries seem a lot when they are translated into their local currencies. This is illegal and nefarious – but some of the region’s largest projects are costed on this very basis.”

In June 2022, in an exclusive interview with Middle East Construction News (MECN), Carole O’Neil, Cundall’s then newly appointed Global Managing Partner said the firm is committed to being the most inclusive employer in the industry.

Asked whether companies have made noticeable progress with bringing diversity to the C-Suite, Godfrey says, “Nothing like enough I’m afraid. The statistics speak for themselves: in the GCC women comprise only 4.8% of private sector boards – this is the lowest representation in the world. Construction companies are part of this and can definitely do better.”

Highlighting the summit’s key themes and the magazine’s plans for shining a light on D&I in the region, Godfrey announces, “We look forward to vibrant discussions around Middle East Consultant’s Diversity Report, which will be published in the second week of October. This will form the agenda for a CEO panel and promises to be a very lively debate. Another key theme is around ‘The Dynamics of Change’ – it will focus on how change and transformation can become just as much a habit as being stuck in the status quo.

Rounding up with his thoughts on what he hopes delegates will leave the conference with, Godfrey concludes, “It’s awareness that these issues can’t wait any longer. It’s not enough to talk – and all the key parties involved are ready to promote change, most of all, in fact, the regions’ governments. But where is action from the vast majority of construction businesses? It’s time to act now!”

To learn more about the Women in Construction Summit – Diversity & Inclusion click here.


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