Civil engineering organisation the South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE) has called for collaboration and working towards gender diversity and inclusivity to create a more sustainable working environment and world.
SAICE president Vishal Krishandutt highlights the need for a sustainable talent pipeline and recruitment process, which understands that an inclusive and diverse company culture are talent magnets for modern employees.
Research undertaken by advisory firm PwC found that 71% of companies that adopted inclusivity and diversity practices reported a positive impact on their recruitment efforts, 39% said practices had led to increased levels of female applicants, 32% indicated increased levels of female graduate hires, 27% reported increased levels of female experienced hires and 24% reported increased levels of external female leadership.
“The demand for female talent will continue to rise over time. It is important to not only attract female talent, but also to be able to develop, engage, progress and retain female talent once inside the organisation,” says Krishandutt.
When presented with choices on what female candidates consider makes an employer most attractive, the top three responses are opportunities for career progression, competitive wages and other financial benefits, and flexible working arrangements and a culture of work-life balance, he points out.
“Organisations must hold their management accountable for the implementation of diversity and inclusive strategies, and these key elements must also be aligned to business and growth strategies in order to transform not just the engineering sector in South Africa but the public and private sectors overall,” he says.
SAICE CEO Vishaal Lutchman highlights the importance and responsibility that civil engineers have to inspire and promote the concept of nation building in contributing to South Africa’s infrastructure development in a socially just, environmentally sensitive and economically robust manner.
He adds that critical issues to revitalise South Africa’s public and private sectors include investing in institutions and human capacity, understanding the role of the private sector geared towards financial sustainability and growth, eradicating corruption in South Africa and closing the gap in science and technology skills.
There is an extreme and desperate need for engineering skills in the country. It is important to appreciate the value proposition of diversity and to make the best of the developmental State, he notes.
The engineering work environment, and any work environment, must be a workspace in which young people from diverse backgrounds are accepted. There is a need for mentorship and strong role models to transform the workplace into an enabling environment, says civil engineer and 2020 SAICE University of the Witwatersrand student chapter chairperson Noluthando Zitha.
“Gender equality and empowerment are not only a fundamental human right but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world,” concludes Krishandutt.