Inspire Me Workshop Leeds Round-up

 In Event, front page news, News

It was a pleasure to deliver our Career Boost Masterclass at Construction News’ Inspire Me campaign in Leeds this morning.

It’s great to see, Willmot Dixon sponsoring such an event and it was fantastic that this 100 delegate event sold out weeks ago; there was a real buzz on arrival.

Many of our clients were represented, either in the audience or on the panel and it was a pleasant surprise to see familiar faces of past delegates from our career development programme.

The keynote address was from Holly Price from Keltbray Group, who gave an amazing, candid talk about her career. Holly started as a Demolition Engineer and is now Director of Training and Development, Holly shared personal experiences from her own career journey and also spoke about changes she is driving in the sector to promote more diverse and inclusive workplaces. Holly mentioned she was once approached to try and improve balance on a board of trustees and declined – “We want to get roles on merit not to make up numbers” – a brilliant stance to further promote why diversity initiatives are key to success.

I then followed Holly’s talk with an interactive 30 minute session on Career Planning and Progression, focusing specifically on empowerment, networks, confidence, personal brand and goal-setting. It was a fast-paced session and all 100 delegates had their next career goals and personal actions defined and recorded by the end of it.

Jayne boost your career

Next followed a case study talk from Diane Thornhill, HR Director from Arup. Diane’s talk covered the ethos of Arup and the steps taken (some controversial) to improve gender balance at the organisation over the last few years. The talk was very thought-provoking and informative…and sparked lots of questions in the Q&A.

The session concluded with a panel debate made up of : Jen Durie, Senior Engineer at Cundall, Nicola Hindle, Managing Director at Amey, Brad Miller, COO at MAG and Holly Price, Director of Training and Development at Keltbray Group with Zac Garner-Purkiss doing a fantastic job as Chair.

The topics discussed were quotas, unconscious bias, returning to work and of course the gender pay gap. Some of the key take-aways were:


  • Even though quotas get a bad press, firms are busy data gathering and setting aspirational targets to demonstrate return on investment for rolling out diversity and inclusion initiatives and training.


  • Whilst many firms understand that unconscious bias isn’t the answer to all equality, diversity and inclusion problems, it was interesting to hear one delegate remark that her company had been advised by Business in the Community to avoid unconscious bias training as it did more harm than good. No one from Business in the Community was present so it isn’t clear or confirmed that was in fact the case, however all panellists disputed this and talked of the benefits that unconscious bias training had delivered into their organisations. Nicola Hindle spoke about the investment and positive impact of this topic within Amey. Holly Price also raised the valid point that who firms select to deliver the training is key. If the message is delivered poorly it can create irreparable damage; however if delivered well, team and business benefits follow – Holly advised selecting providers carefully and where possible attending or piloting training.


  • Another delegate talked about the usual challenges of returning to work after maternity, interestingly she commented that both she and her husband had graduated at exactly the same time, worked in the same field, yet he was earning £20k more pa! Their child was only 4! She went on to say that until society starts to see both parents as being equally responsible for parenting, women would continue to be enslaved to disadvantages of taking time out.


  • And finally, the gender pay gap. It was raised that the push to attract women to STEM and even up the gender intake during graduate recruitment is a positive thing….it could potentially make the gender pay gap wider in the short terms as there will be more women in the lower quartiles. Here at Skills 4 we focus on progressing the women already in the workforce, those in the leadership pipeline which creates the necessary role-models to attract more people to STEM and to move more women into upper quartile positions which will help close the gender pay gap.

 A really useful morning, with thanks to Construction News and all of the sponsors DRS Road management, Imtech, NASC and Trad group for making it possible. They have two further Inspire Me campaign days coming up in Glasgow and Bristol. Booking is available at InspireMe


Here at Skills 4 we are one of the UK’s leading providers of gender diversity initiatives and training programmes. We support clients across the globe including Atkins, Arcadis, Balfour Beatty and Kier who are looking to achieve gender diversity and equality objectives through tailored training and programmes that return measurable and instant results.

With courses ranging from one day workshops to three month programmes, we offer a great selection of courses for those looking to develop and utilise the skills of their business and workforce.

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Skills 4 at the WISE Conference 2019