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Women in Planning - is diversity an issue?

  • Publish Date: Posted over 5 years ago

​In short, yes, there are still steps to take on this hot topic. Planning Resource website has published an article on the firms with the highest proportion of female planners following a speech made by Royal Town Planning Institute chief executive Victoria Hills about diversity. "From a planning perspective, it’s really rather simple," she said. "It’s about being representative of the communities we represent." 

As action speaks louder than words, the institute has now launched a "vision statement" and action plan to be developed next year, to represent society at large. They issued a statement which promised to "…act inclusively, treat everyone fairly, and seek to provide a culture which delivers the best outcomes for the diverse society in which and for whom we work".

The 2018 Planning Consultancy Survey revealed variable results regarding female planners employed by leading firms, with the average across all firms being 38 per cent and just 19 per cent at the vast majority of firms being director level. Which means there is still a long way to go for complete parity. Which is “…pretty shocking," according to Charlotte Morphet, co-founder of Women in Planning, the network that champions for gender equality in the planning industry.

Only three firms reported a proportion of female planners’ equivalent to 50 per cent or more; Atkins (55 per cent), CBRE (51 per cent) and Arup (50 per cent). Alison Tero, senior director in CBRE’s planning team, stated “It’s about working with the best talent, irrespective of gender."

CBRE and Atkins both use initiatives such as "unconscious bias" training to recruit the best talent. Using policies put in place to assist women to stay in post throughout their career, e.g. their enhanced maternity and paternity leave, and having a women’s development programme which offers training in "personal branding" and professional network building to empower women to go for promotions and drive for bigger projects are also initiatives undertaken by CBRE and Atkins respectively.

Richard De Cani, head of planning for UK, the Middle East and Africa at Arup, thinks company culture and career pathing plays a big part in attracting a diverse mix of employees too. Flexible working and opportunities for people to move around the business helping this issue too.

We agree with Women in Planning and the RTPI that more must be done to encourage the best talents into the profession and use our tried and tested search methodology to ensure we’re finding the right skills for the roles available - regardless of background, gender, age or disability.

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