We recognised that attracting, developing and retaining more women in the business was essential, and that a lack of career progression, internal networks and role models were leading women to leave at twice the rate of their male counterparts.
Our commitment to address low levels of female diversity inspired the development of our mixed-pair mentoring programme.
The programme was established in 2011, with 25 female and 25 senior mentors. They facilitated career discussions, creating networking opportunities and promoting more women into senior roles.
The programme has proved hugely successful:
- more than 125 people have been involved as mentors and mentees in the programme, many signing up year after year
- the mentoring programme is cited as a contributory factor in women progressing in the company with 10 per cent of senior roles filled by women, compared to 8 per cent in 2011
- 70 per cent of women from the original cohort have enjoyed promotions
- 92 per cent of mentees (male and female) have stayed with the business from our 2013 and 2014 cohorts
Katy Dowding, managing director of Skanska's facilities services business, said:
"I was reluctant at first to be part of a female mentoring scheme, wondering why we needed something different. It was only when I took part that I realised how much broader the scheme was – the male participants gained as much as the women, getting a really different insight to their working environment and the different challenges faced by women.
"The group networking sessions gave a fantastic opportunity for mentors and mentees to get together, swap experiences and learn some best practice. I've been part of the scheme for a number of years and still participate as a mentor and a mentee and learn more every year. The take up is testament to the scheme. It has been so successful we have now shared it with our clients and supply chain, who have adopted their own models."
The programme has now been extended to encompass disabled, ethnic minority and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) groups, to give all parties a broader appreciation of the issues and experiences faced in developing a career with Skanska.