JG Afrika continues to value the immense contribution that women have made towards the growth and sustainability of the 100-year-old consultancy, as well as the larger engineering and environmental sciences industries.
The firm strives to create a workplace that is able carry on attracting talented, passionate, and dedicated women and in which they can excel in their careers and grow and develop as professionals and individuals. This is demonstrated by the many forums that are held especially for women members of staff so that they can share their views on how their working environment can be further improved for female staff. A case in point is the Gender Inclusivity Lunch that the company hosted during Women’s Month in August 2022. The event was a resounding success providing an environment in which female staff were able to discuss the struggles that women have and continue to face as professionals and the importance of gender inclusivity in both the firm and the industry.
“The engineering sector has greatly improved in terms of gender representation since I started my career as an engineer in the 1980s. JG Afrika continues to play a large part in this transformation. It has already done and continues to do a lot to foster a culture of gender inclusivity. I am proud to say that we now have as many as 58 women in our team, 9 of whom are in leadership roles. They include technologists, engineers, and scientists. This is in addition to the many women who fulfil important support and administrative functions. When I joined JG Afrika in 1996, I was the first and only female engineer in the firm,” Jan Norris, a Director of JG Afrika, says.
However, the industry can still do more to retain women employees. Many leave the profession before they can attain professional registration with very few progressing to management which remains extremely under-represented by women. Women leave the profession because of the pressures associated with balancing family life and their careers. However, there are also many other reasons for them exiting the industry. Through events, such as the Gender Inclusivity Lunch, JG Afrika improves its understanding of these challenges. In this way, management can continue finding ways of better supporting women in the workplace to retain female engineers, technicians, and scientists.
“A vast pool of talent resides with women, and we should always try to find more and better ways of harnessing it. As seasoned female professionals, we owe it to the next generation to pass on what we have learnt, share experiences, and develop policies to make it easier for all these amazing young talented, passionate, and dedicated women to achieve their full potential,” Norris says.
Among the many initiatives that JG Afrika has implemented to retain women employees is to create a workplace in which they feel safe, as well as included and represented at every level. Women also know that they are valued and that their voices are being heard by male team members and management.
Apart from promoting gender inclusivity because it is the ethical thing to do, JG Afrika appreciates that there is strength in diversity. Notably, Fortune 500 companies with the highest proportion of women on their boards performed significantly better than organisations with the lowest proportion.
“JG Afrika has always been a place where I felt that I could develop and grow, and I have been lucky to have received great support from my male colleagues throughout my career. I didn’t see a glass ceiling and I am confident that those who follow me won’t either,” she concludes.