IWD 2024 – Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress

International Women’s Day is a day to recognize the contributions of women across all sectors. At RAM, we’re proud to have a diversity-rich leadership and team. This International Women’s Day, we reached out to 10 women at RAM for their response and reflection on this year’s International Women’s Day theme, “Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress”. We asked them questions about their career journey and achievements, RAM’s role in supporting inclusion, their reflections on inspiring inclusion in this industry, and other personal insights.

Investing in Women

Research has shown that organizations that embrace gender diversity demonstrate patterns of unparalleled growth, innovation, and resilience. When women are empowered within the workforce, companies experience a multitude of benefits that contribute to their overall success and sustainability.

Rita Gareb-Ouko, RAM’s Corporate Services Manager, reflecting on her journey and the broader initiative of “30 by 30,” an initiative by Engineers Canada that aims to increase the representation of newly licensed female engineers to 30% by 2030, emphasizes the impact of this initiative. She highlights not only the obstacles women face in male-dominated fields, but also the contributions they can make when given the opportunity. The “30 by 30” initiative not only inspires women within our organization but also sets a standard for the industry.

Diversity Drives Innovation: The logic is clear: diverse teams bring a multiplicity of perspectives. This is particularly crucial in engineering, where solving the next generation of problems requires a breadth of thought and experience. Shobi Sivapalan, our Geotechnical Engineer, underlined the value of diversity in fostering innovation: “In an environment where there is more diversity and inclusion, people tend to be more comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas.” Shobi’s experience attests to how RAM’s investment in creating a diverse workforce encourages a free exchange of ideas, enhancing the company’s problem-solving and creative capabilities.

Enhanced Team Performance: Research consistently shows that gender-diverse teams perform better. With balanced viewpoints and approaches, productivity and efficiency improve. Inez Tanu, our Junior Project Manager, notes: “Having a leadership team with various genders, races, and backgrounds has been inspiring as it shows that quality of work really reflects their career advancement regardless of background, gender or race”, emphasizing how promoting career advancement based on merit and encouraging a performance-oriented culture for everyone can reflects the quality of work.

Improved Employee Satisfaction and Retention: Organizations that actively support gender equality and invest in women’s professional growth create a more satisfied and engaged workforce, which leads to higher employee retention rates, reducing the costs associated with turnover and retraining. Marnie Williams, Director of Project Services for the Alberta Region, shares “[focusing] on employee development allows our people to build a development plan that outlines the experiences and training required to achieve personal aspirations for professional growth.” The focus on empowerment and positive encouragement has allowed her to grow professionally, but also inspired her to mentor young professionals, enhancing the overall workplace culture.

Success in a Male-Dominated Industry

At RAM, our focus is on the industry-wide need for systemic change to support women’s professional growth.

Mariam Abdulameer, Manager of Inspection Services, provided her insight into RAM’s culture, which she describes as a “women-led company,” showcasing the impact of having women in leadership and technical roles. This recognition isn’t just about numbers or appearances; it’s about the profound impact that women in leadership roles can have on an organization’s ethos and the message it sends to the industry at large. Mariam further elaborates on how an inclusive environment “not only attracts more women to [the company] but also sets a standard for the industry.” The visibility of women in technical and leadership positions can aid progress in destigmatizing career gender stereotypes and serve as a powerful motivator for other women considering careers in engineering.

Setareh Golroh, RAM’s Quality Specialist, shares her story and her understanding of how supportive policies and programs are crucial for empowering women and nurturing success, especially those new to Canada or returning to the workforce. “Since July 2022, when I’ve been building my Canadian experience with RAM, I’ve been able to obtain my P.Eng, PMP, and Lead Auditor certificates.” She then further underscores the value of RAM’s flexible work policies, which played a critical role in her transition, “As a mother of a 7-year-old girl, what really gave me confidence in returning to work just two months after arriving in Canada, even though my daughter wasn’t fully settled yet, was flexible work policies.”

Their stories showcase that the success of women in male-dominated industries is not about overcoming barriers, but about the collective benefits of their full participation. At RAM, our commitment to gender equality and investing in women is demonstrated through actionable strategies and initiatives designed to support and empower our female workforce. Karen Savage, our Principal Geotechnical Engineer, says, “In order to best serve society, the face of our profession, including in the C-suite, should reflect the face of our society,” she asserts, emphasizing the responsibility of those in privileged positions to level the playing field for others. This approach not only fosters a culture of mutual respect and collaboration but also ensures that diverse perspectives are heard and valued, driving innovation and excellence.

Mentorship and Professional Development: Understanding the critical role mentorship plays in career advancement, RAM has instituted a comprehensive mentorship program. This program pairs aspiring professionals with experienced mentors, facilitating knowledge exchange and providing guidance on navigating the engineering sector.

Flexible Work Policies: Recognizing the diverse needs of our workforce, especially the challenges faced by working mothers, RAM has implemented flexible work arrangements. These policies accommodate different life stages and responsibilities, enabling women like Setareh Golroh, a new immigrant from Iran, to balance motherhood with professional aspirations.

Promoting Diversity and Inclusion: RAM actively engages in diversity and inclusion training, fostering an environment where all employees feel valued and respected. This approach not only benefits women but enriches the organization as a whole, promoting a culture of mutual respect and collaboration. Monique Staals, Director of Project Delivery, emphasized the significance of RAM’s inclusive culture and its initiatives like partnering with organizations such as MinervaBC, BC Builders Code, UBC Mentorship and C.O.D.E Initiative. Her leadership role and acknowledgment of RAM’s efforts in achieving Engineers Canada’s “30 by 30” goal highlight how RAM actively develops programs and partnerships aimed at promoting gender diversity and inclusion.

Invest in women, and accelerate progress.

On this International Women’s Day, know that investing in women enhances innovation, builds stronger teams, and contributes to a more equitable workplace.