International Womens Day

Embracing Equity

March 8th sees the celebration of International Women’s Day and as part of Copper Consultancy’s Connecting Women campaign, we asked both men and women across male dominated industries such as infrastructure, energy and construction to tell us what equity meant to them. How does it differ from equality and how are people embracing equity in their role, scheme, project and business?

With 88% of our respondents acknowledging they could identify the difference between equality and equity, we could see clear themes around individuality, opportunity and resource. Commenting on how equality is a “one size fits all” approach to delivering equal opportunity and resources, compared to embracing equity, which Delecia Reddy from Nicholas O’Dwyer describes as:

“Endeavoring to offer everyone equal access to opportunities, resources, and support that are proportionate to their needs. This may include providing accommodations for individuals with disabilities, granting flexible work arrangements, or investing in training and development programs to assist individuals in overcoming obstacles to advancement”.

Equity frames an individual’s personal circumstances and acknowledges that when given the same opportunities, we may not all begin at the same starting point. Various factors can hold a person back such as gender, low income, and race. Embracing equity is about putting things in place to enable everyone to start at the same starting point.

But what does this look like in practice?

Examples shared reflected that representation, understanding and education were important factors to consider when looking at ways to embrace equity.

People want their personal circumstances to be understood, so companies are rightly taking the time to ensure they understand what barriers may be faced when tackling such personal matters. Including Sarah Styan – Binnies who is attending lunch and learn sessions on neurodiversity explaining:

“People with neurodiversity can find the traditional work environment challenging, and it is now being revealed that the number of females with autism is underdiagnosed. We are encouraged to understand and appreciate how all different personality types are needed to build better teams to deliver sustainable solutions for our clients.” 

Examples shared included letting a mother take time out of her day to express breastmilk, paternity vs maternity leave explaining how “same sex couples may be disadvantaged in the amount of leave available to them” to delivering better support networks around sensitive topics such as miscarriages and menopause.

Lisa Ingram from Amey explained how their new menopause policy:
helps managers understand the challenges that may be faced by women and to help generate conversations about reasonable adjustments”.

In male dominated industries representation was key. People want to see themselves represented, supported and celebrated within the business by both colleagues and employers. Including female first aiders, better diversity amongst teams, women in senior leadership roles and advocating female awareness days like today.

Whilst great progress is being made Charlotte Usher from RSK mentions:
We can’t embrace equity unless we acknowledge the inequities that exist so that they can be solved. Part of that is finding what these inequities are, and the rest is giving people the confidence to speak up to senior staff”.

If success looks at the acknowledgement of the inequities that exist and solving them then Adam Doxford, Head of Environmental at Enviresearch is a great example of that. As part of this years theme, he told me how he has taken a moment to self-educate himself on equity, whilst working from home swaddling his sleepy newborn baby. Working from home means he can help share caring responsibilities. Equity wasn’t a term he had come across before but strongly believed in its need, saying:

Social stereotypes about women’s and men’s roles in society harm us all. My wife is very career driven, and I would like to give her the opportunities to advance her career when she returns to work by taking an equal or greater share of the caring responsibilities.”

Adam has now pledged to “encourage female co-workers to seek out opportunities that may not have historically been something that they had access to, or may not have had the confidence to pursue due to their circumstances or historical lack of support. Enabling women to seek out career development opportunities that fit in with any caring responsibilities they may have.”

So what will be your pledge today? #EmbraceEquity

If you would like to know more or get involved with our Connecting Women campaign, please get in touch at

Happy International Women’s Day from everyone at Copper!