FUN JOBS AND SERIOUS JOBS SNOWE has grown out of several similar initiatives undertaken by the business. In 2014, Carillion signed up to the Compact Pledge – a national campaign led by Women into Technology and Engineering Compact to increase the number of women training in technology and engineering. In all, 180 companies made the pledge. Carillion also backs the Your Life STEM education campaign. Joan hopes through SNOWE she can replicate the kind of support that she received while at school. ’Girls with the abilities to tackle higher level maths and science were given every opportunity and support to achieve their very best. Girls were offered the same choices as boys and the freedom to follow paths which were not the traditional female career options. Such enlightened teaching created pupils who saw no restriction in what they chose to study and no barriers to entry in any chosen profession. ‘We need all schools to be like this, to give girls the opportunity to study both the sciences and the humanities. The learning experience should teach girls that they too can have the fun jobs, and the serious jobs, and the jobs in the boardroom. Nothing should prevent girls from becoming engineers if they want to do so.’ RETENTION Joining Carillion as a graduate civil engineer, Joan has worked within the business for more than 19 years and became the company’s first female managing director. Engineering is out of kilter with society, says Joan. ‘Whether you’re going into a site meeting or a board room, when you sit there and you’re the only woman – no matter what happens – you’re still different.’ It’s this imbalance, rather than some overtly discriminatory macho culture, which she believes can make it difficult for women to speak up and have their ideas listened to. ‘All my life, I have been part of a workforce where less than 10 per cent of the population are female,’ says Joan. ‘Being part of a minority brings its own set of unique challenges and so requires an innovative way to deal with them. There did not seem to be any obvious means to support those women engineers in the day-to-day challenges of working in a male-dominated profession. As a consequence retention of female engineers is an ongoing concern.’ She added, ’We are saying that we value their contributions and we want them to be part of the workforce. I most definitely feel that I should be a role model for more junior women.’ SNOWE is already showing signs of success. ‘We are on a journey to improve the rates and our commitment in Carillion is to increase the number of women in apprenticeships to five per cent over the next five years. We are in year two and working to achieve our target. ‘We have a number of fantastic female role models within Carillion as well as many STEM Ambassadors. Our website has a web page dedicated to inspirational women in our company working in operational roles leading the way.’ The next step, Joan hopes, will see the model for SNOWE replicated by companies across the engineering and rail sector. Says Joan, ‘SNOWE came about from a very simple idea. It always seemed to me that something was missing in relation to how we supported female engineers in construction. Networks are hard to get up and running, but we have succeeded within Carillion and we are making a real difference.’
The facility will become TMH's only production site in Africa. It will be used to assemble, maintain and refurbish diesel and electric locomotives as well as coaches for South Africa and the rest of the continent.