Craig Hatch shares family retrospective on gender equality advancements

On International Women’s Day, Tetra Tech’s Managing Director Craig Hatch discusses why Diversity and Inclusion is important to him and why he believes in the Balance For Better movement. Craig took part in attending and sponsoring the first birthday of Women in Nuclear Cumbria Branch on 8th March at Energus Centre, Lillyhall. 

Diversity in business has come a long way since the 1960s. When I look at my daughter Eleanor and the strides she’s making as a physicist in the nuclear sector, it’s easy to see how far we’ve progressed since the days when my mother followed secretarial qualifications in the 60s and rose to Head of Credit Control for a large of pharmaceutical company, Fisons UK.

I will never forget the day I visited her workplace after my school unexpectedly closed and how amazed I was by the whirlwind of responsibility she had to grapple with. I gained a perception of her that so starkly contrasted with that of the mother I knew at home; there was an acute and sharp awareness of detail, professionalism, confidence, and competence that I had only seen glimpses of at home. In that office, she strove to be the best version of herself she could be. And yet, that extremely effective woman was held back from unleashing her full potential. In an environment where all managerial roles were male-dominated, her advancement was prematurely capped.

She continued in that role in the final 20 years of her career, when she should have undoubtedly progressed without a glass ceiling. I would not want my daughter Eleanor to be held back in the way Mum was, I would want her to progress based on the talent, hard work and value she shows to an organisation.

In contrast, I believe Eleanor’s prospects are much greater than my mother’s in the work she now does for Nuvia Ltd. She shows an incredibly similar personality and aptitude to that of my mother, but the room for her growth is far greater. Sixty years ago, seeing a woman do what Eleanor now does in the nuclear sector would have been a rare sight, and perhaps even socially impermissible by a lot of people’s standards.

While this shows progress, we aren’t at the end of the journey yet because the glass ceiling still very much exists

In the professional services realm, particularly in engineering, the gender balance mix coming out of university isn’t equal. In engineering, there is a lower number of women taking an engineering degree, and we’re seeing similar ratios in other technical services, including quantity surveying, building surveying, etc. We also still don’t have as many women in senior level board rooms as we would like. As businesses, we need to create roles and development plans that cater to broader groups of people, including women, that allow them to grow in their business.

Gender inclusion undoubtedly adds significant value to the workforce, and, increasingly, the clients and partners we work with are being lead by a diverse group of people. That diversity means fresh and innovative ideas never stem from the same place, leading to far better decision-making, problem-solving, and creative output.

If we don’t employ a breadth of individuals that reflect our audience and the wider world we live in, not only is that denying people from different walks of life the opportunity to grow, but it also stifles productivity by narrowing business opportunities to a very limited demographic. Our world just doesn’t operate like that anymore, as seen in the attitudes of our younger generations like my daughter’s, who recognise that more equal hierarchies encourage better collaboration.

I’m very happy to see that Women in Nuclear has successfully raised the profile of gender equality within the nuclear sector. A sector target of 40 percent female workforce has been included in the Nuclear Sector Deal. I’ve been proud to be a male ally supporting the Cumbria branch over the last year in its events geared at providing networking, socials, and connecting opportunities for women across the region.

By the time Eleanor finishes her career, I would like to think that she will be where she is through her own efforts and not held back because of gender in the way that my Mum was.

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