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International Women's Day 2020: An interview with Kayleigh Regan

Posted on March 2020

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What does #EachForEqual mean to the Construction industry in the Asia Pacific? How do we get equal status between male and female in the job market?

This year's International Women's Day's campaign is #EachforEqual. Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day. In 2020, we can choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women’s achievements.

We have interviewed with Kayleigh Regan, Team Lead of Water, Transportation & Forensics Recruitment in APAC region.

The 2020 International Women’s Day theme is that an equal world is an enabled world. What does that mean to you in the Construction industry in Singapore?

The engineering and construction industry is notoriously known for being very male-dominated. There has always been a lack of females entering the construction industry workforce. Over the years people have debated as to whether it is due to a lack of direction when females are younger on the opportunities in engineering and construction or whether the lifestyle that the industry provides that would not fit those who wanted to be a mother.

However, in the recent years have we seen a positive shift in the industry's mindset towards wanting a more diverse workforce. Many companies are striving to have a more equal workforce by encouraging flexible working hours and more female orientated working styles to encourage more women to join the industry. Those companies who pushed for this equality earlier on really have seen a great impact to both their working culture and technical abilities – the view is that if everyone in the office is the same, how will you ever have new ideas?

Is gender equality a topic that often comes up in conversations with candidates and companies?

Yes, it does often come up in the conversations. During my most recent business trip to Australia, almost every company I met mentioned their desire to have a more diverse workforce.

Finding female engineers can be like finding a needle in a haystack. According to Engineering UK 2018 survey, only 12% of the UK engineering population were female.

A diverse workforce creates more of a balance in the office culture and brings new ideas/initiatives to the table. Companies also seem to be even more of a desire to bring females on board at senior positions. There is a common theme of the impression that females make great managers because of their level of empathy and understanding. It really is refreshing to hear people speak about equality within the workforce and I see a lot of the clients I work with are striving towards this. 

What role can recruiters play in creating an equal world?

Recruiters can really play a big part in creating an equal world. We are consultants. We have the power to consult with our clients on the importance of creating an equal/diverse workforce. One of the biggest parts we can play is not discriminating. I wouldn't want to say that we can help more females gain senior positions as this really shouldn't be based on gender, but more skill and capability. What we can do is to make sure females are presented to clients, we can support female in going for roles that same skill-set/capability males are going for.

Another huge part we can play in is the salary field. It’s always shocking when you see studies released that women get paid lower than men on average for the same positions. What we can do as recruiters are be well aware of the market salary rates so we can consult and advise both our clients and candidates to ensure that females are being paid equally just like their counterpart males.

What advice would you give to a company that trying to create a diverse hiring strategy?

First off, I would advise that a diverse team come up with the hiring strategy. The same thing cannot attract everyone. Not everyone is attracted by the same things – it’s important to be open minded and think about what would appeal to different people, no matter of gender or age. This does not mean you need to change your company vision or goals, but more than to make sure the culture is open-minded and moving with the times.

One of the biggest mistakes I see companies make is not allowing for flexibility. This is not just for females, but also males. People always have different personal situations and I think it is important that employers recognise this. The structure should be that as long as employees get their work done and meet their targets, there should be allowed flexibility to have more work-life balance.

Kayleigh and team have extensive experience in recruiting for Construction market talent across the Asia Pacific. Speak to Kayleigh for more #EachForEqual hiring tips.

Collectively, each of us can help create a gender-equal world.

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