RA members Embrace Equity

It’s been inspiring to see so many RA members coming along to our series of networking lunches around Australia this week in support of International Women’s Day 2023 and its theme Embrace Equity.

Based on the quality of the contributions from our keynote speakers and panel members at the events so far, no one can be left in any doubt that women are shaping the future of our industry. This series is putting a spotlight on those who are not only providing inclusive leadership today, but are deeply committed to mentoring our workforce’s next generation of leaders.

So far, we’ve held events in both Melbourne and Sydney, with other state capitals continuing throughout this week before the series wraps up in Brisbane next Tuesday.

The first event in Melbourne hosted by RA President Aneetha de Silva emphasised the importance of enhanced gender diversity to support the development of a workforce talent pipeline capable of meeting industry objectives and reflecting community values and expectations.

Melbourne IWD presenters (L to R): Kiandra Ward, GAMUDA; Claire Quinlan, Arup; Nicole Stoddart, Rail Projects Victoria; RA President Aneetha de Silva; Duncan Elliot, North East Link Program; RA CEO Michael Kilgariff

Along with a keynote address by Nicole Stoddart, CEO of Rail Projects Victoria, attendees also heard insights from a panel conversation exploring driving greater gender equality through social procurement measures (with outcomes measured and reported), encouraging governments to set and enforce meaningful workforce gender targets on major projects, sharing knowledge around gender equity initiatives that have delivered effective outcomes and encouraging today’s industry leaders to champion change by empowering women to lead through effective mentoring.

In Sydney, our keynote speaker Camilla Drover, Deputy Secretary, Infrastructure and Place, Transport for NSW presented a thoughtful address that reflected the importance of leaders in our industry being prepared to ‘take a chance’ on people from different backgrounds. She also drew on an example from NSW’s past by highlighting Kathleen Butler – now recalled as the woman who saved the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Sydney IWD presenters (L to R): RA CEO Michael Kilgariff; Janene Jamieson, COLAS; Rebecca Want, GHD; RA Vice President Siljie Troseth; Camilla Drover, Transport for NSW; Belinda Virant, Arcadis; Thierry Madelon, COLAS

Our panel in Sydney also discussed workforce gender targets for major projects, noting that although there are a range of views across industry, there’s no denying that what gets measured (and reported) gets delivered. They also explored the challenge of retaining industry talent, observing that it is especially difficult after parental leave. This is an area where industry leaders need to further explore incentives and targeted measures, rather than relying on traditional HR strategies.

Thanks to all those who have supported these events so far, and I look forward to updating you further on the outcomes from the rest of the series in next week’s edition of RA Insider.

Michael Kilgariff
Chief Executive Officer

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