The Global Gender Gap Report 2020 indicates that it will still take more than a lifetime to make equality a reality worldwide. Whilst we still have a long way to go, International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to facilitate further change, and celebrate women.
Iceni was delighted to be recognised in the recent Planning journal (January 2021) for its proportion of female town planners which sits at 50 per cent. As well as female Directors in our planning teams, other areas of the business which wouldn’t have been captured by this survey (which focused on members of the RTPI) are also performing extremely strongly in terms of women leadership with female Directors leading our Archaeology, Engagement, Finance and HR teams.
Over the last 12 months, Iceni has also set up a Diversity Panel, which amongst other forms of diversity, seeks to ensure that gender equality is fully considered in all practices and procedures. Iceni understands that we have a long way to go in terms of challenging bias and inequality, particularly throughout the wider property sector, and we aim to be at the forefront of that change. As a first action, the Panel have facilitated mandatory training as a means of educating all staff on matters relevant to diversity and inclusivity.
The Employee Handbook has also been updated and now includes a Life Changing Events Policy to address matters relating to an employee’s health such as fertility treatment, menopause, bereavement, divorce or health issues such as cancer.
Overall, Iceni continues to strive to promote female leadership and support women across all areas of the business.
Since IWD2020 we have all had to adapt to changing work practices brought on by the pandemic. The culture at Iceni, which already was very supportive of flexible hours and homeworking, has been able to adapt well to these changing circumstances. Indeed, for some, the constant juggle of work, kids, commuting and everything else has probably made life slightly easier as Associate Gill Eaton observes:
“Iceni has great systems in place which pivoted immediately to meet the constraints imposed by the pandemic. For me, as a parent of two older children, working full time in the Iceni Planning team, it has worked really well being able to reduce time spent commuting whilst still working closely with colleagues on all project work through a combination of Teams, zoom and email.
The team has remained as sociable as possible given the situation with yoga, nutrition and cooking sessions, fitness challenges and book clubs. Professionally trained counsellors have provided mental health workshops to help boost our resilience skills and to help us recognise our stress triggers. This supportive team environment has made a tremendous difference to me as a working mum so we can focus on navigating schemes through the planning process.”
Whilst we’ll miss the opportunity to meet up with clients and industry contacts to discuss these important issues in person, we know that many women continue to champion female colleagues and that many men in leadership roles support the need for gender balance and this culture has helped considerably through this period of extended homeworking.
As we tentatively plan for some form of return to the workplace Iceni is adapting its office spaces to ensure that they remain relevant, adaptive, and are great places to work and collaborate, and our aim is to make these the most inclusive workspaces possible.