CGL SME achieves gender balance

Case Studies I CGL
SME achieves
gender balance
Company information
Card Geotechnics Limited (CGL) is a
geotechnical and geoenvironmental
consultancy firm. The company has been
in business for 21 years and is made up of
50 team members that are based in offices
all over the UK.
Diversity and inclusion themes
Flexible working
Transparent career progression
Sharing good practice
Using role models
Supporting retention and development
Find out more g
For CGL making
people feel part of
a team is vital.
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Diversity and inclusion toolkit
Case studies
To deliver on
demanding projects
CGL has to attract
and retain the very
best people.
Case Studies I CGL
aims and
CGL is committed to
fostering an inclusive
working environment and
is proud to be the first
small – to medium – sized
enterprise (SME) in the
science, engineering and
technology sectors to
be recognised by the UK
Resource Centre (Now
WISE) for its work on
equality of opportunities.
CGL was also the first SME to sign up to
the Industry-led 10 Steps and to join the
Royal Academy of Engineering Diversity
Leadership Group.
CGL wants to recruit the best possible
candidates in the marketplace and,
therefore, wants to ensure that it is drawing
talent from a wide and diverse pool.
There is an expectation in the company
that the gender balance will reflect that
of the general population. CGL wants to
ensure that it maintains high levels of staff
retention. As a small company, it believes
that lower staff retention will make its
plans for growth more difficult to achieve.
CGL believes that gender balance creates
greater stability and that equality at all
levels leads to better decision-making.
In terms of D&I strategy, CGL seeks to be
gender-blind in terms of recruitment,
opportunities, pay, conditions and career
development. The company also recognises
that people need to balance their work and
personal life and supports employees
in this.
Royal Academy of Engineering
Diversity and inclusion toolkit
Source: Opportunity Now Project 28-40
STEM Sector Insight
To demonstrate its commitment to making
flexible working work, CGL has implemented
a remote desktop system so that employees
are able to work from home and still have
access to the same systems they would
have in the office.
In terms of professional development,
there is an expectation that all technical
staff will become chartered, and there are
training programmes in place to support
this. In terms of the support team, there is
the opportunity to pursue qualifications, for
example, in human resources, post graduate
qualifications, NVQs, etc.
Beyond these, there is encouragement to
seek higher recognition as SiLC (Specialist in
Land Contamination) or ROGEP (Register of
Ground Engineering Professionals).
In terms of talent development, CGL has
supported employees to understand their
individual strengths and the strengths of
their team. All employees were invited to
complete a ‘Strengthscope’™ questionnaire,
which provides participants with
information about:
• Their personality and performance
• The tasks and activities that are most
likely to energise them and lead to high
levels of engagement.
• The likely consequences of using their
strengths too much, too little or in a way
that isn’t appropriate for the situation.
• The extent to which they apply their
strengths optimally in the way they
approach their work.
• How visible their strengths are to coworkers and key stakeholders.
Following completion of the questionnaire,
all employees received an individual report
and had an individual session to help them
identify their three key strengths. CGL
used the ‘Strengthscope’™ to understand
team strengths, where they double up,
any gaps and how these can be addressed.
Ultimately, they would like employees to
better understand their own and others’
strengths and how to work together even
more effectively.
Once employees have completed their
Chartership, they may gain additional
management qualifications and experience
via the Chartered Management Training
Programme. For example, one female
director is currently studying for an MBA
with the Open University to help her get to
board level.
Training or professional development
activities are monitored by CGL using
data collected and reported monthly. This
enables the company to track the gender
diversity of the company, time of service
with CGL, average age, utilisation of staff
by grade, sickness days, training days,
etc. and compare them as trends over the
previous year or six-month period. It is then
presented as the CGL ‘PULSE’, a kitchen
poster in each office, each month.
Case studies
Supporting career progression
At CGL, professional development and
talent development (Strengthscope™) sit
alongside each other. To support career
progression, six monthly appraisals are
used as an opportunity for employees to
discuss with the senior line managers,
among other things, the question ‘What
now?’ Development activities are tailored to
individuals’ needs and aspirations, and they
receive support with deciding what to do
next and what support/training they need.
Employees choose the most appropriate
route for them from a number of options
such as a second chartered status,
continuing to develop their specialism or a
stronger management route. CGL also has a
bespoke system developed by the Chartered
Institute of Managers, which enables
employees to choose from a selection of
online courses to help them work towards
chartered manager status.
54% of women agreed there are
few female role models in their
Specific initiatives
Flexible working
In line with current legislation, CGL’s policy
enables any employee to apply for flexible
working. All requests are considered on an
individual basis, and arrangements vary
according to individual needs. For example,
there are staff who work a nine-day
fortnight, a four-day week or work from
home. There are examples of both men
and women in senior positions working
flexibly, and because the arrangements are
well thought through, the office operates
extremely efficiently. Ten percent of the
workforce have informal arrangements with
managers regarding flexible working.
Female role models
Case Studies I CGL
An additional assessment scheme, Insight
by Colour Works, has been used to assess
senior team members and new joiners.
Role models
Due to the gender balance CGL has achieved
across different roles in the organisation, it
has been able to provide strong role models
both internally and externally. In terms of
using role models, CGL has worked closely
with UKRC, who originally contacted the
company to talk to graduates. However,
this evolved into developing case studies
and supporting the EU Funded GECO
E ToolKit, http://gender-competence.
eu/en/toolkit2. CGL assisted UKRC in
developing a video case study of the work
they were doing on gender equality in the
organisation. The video showed three CGL
women, and two other members of the
site team, that demonstrated women’s
contribution to construction from dumper
truck driver to project director. This gave
CGL the further opportunity of creating role
models for other staff, employees across
the engineering sector and young females
aspiring to STEM entry.
Overall, CGL believes that its activities
to foster an inclusive culture have had a
positive impact on staff retention and have
enabled the company to increase the skill
levels of its workforce.
There is currently a good gender balance in
the organisation—women make up 46% and
men make up 54% of the overall workforce,
and four of the six people on the senior
management team are women.
CGL was the first SME in its sector to
achieve the SET Fair Standard in 2010.
It is very aware it can be a resource for
successful women role models for the
profession through STEM, WISE and SATRO.
CGL conducts an annual staff survey, which
regularly indicates positive employee
feedback and that they appreciate being
treated professionally. It is strongly believed
that staff retention is enhanced by flexible
working conditions.
Responses to the staff survey in relation
to development indicate that 95% of
employees believe that CGL is committed
to talent development and supports
individuals in the achievement of
appropriate levels of personal development.
Also, 95% of employees believe that CGL
Royal Academy of Engineering
offers them opportunities for personal
growth and has encouraged them to stretch
and challenge themselves and maximise
their potential.
Some concerns were raised that the
company could be overdriving the women in
the engineering story and that there was a
potential risk of alienating men. To address
this, CGL developed a ‘MISE’ award (‘Men in
Science and Engineering’) on their team day.
Prizes included ‘Yorkie Bars’ for best lycra
clad male cyclist and for tea making. This
demonstrated the maturity in the gender
diversity process in CGL, allowing the focus
to be seen as both balanced and capable of
developing fun.
A further challenge for CGL is to maintain
what it has achieved so far and to ensure
that it retains its staff. CGL aims to continue
to do what it is doing in a way that is
appreciated, to be flexible to any new
challenges and to stay aware of what other
organisations are doing. CGL is also working
on raising its profile in different areas, for
example, by being recognised first with the
IIP Gold Award in 2014 and entry for the
Sunday Times Top 100 employers in 2016.
Hints and tips
• Do not be afraid – do it and run with your
convictions about what is right. SMEs can
quickly develop a critical mass which can
be built from.
Next steps
CGL plans to set the following targets in
• Sign up at least 75% of all graduates to
STEM ambassadorship.
• Sign up at least 75% of CGL female
engineers as WES members.
• Raise the profile of more senior female
staff to provide positive role models.
• Produce an article on the benefits of
gender diversity to SMEs in engineering
for IoD or CMI where we are business or
personal members.
• Canvas the idea of a pamphlet for SMEs
showcasing the work they have done –
‘We did it, so you can too’. This is intended
to be a guide similar to those produced by
• Identify an internet host/server/
university and work with them to set
up a ‘ladies who engineer in the UK’ pen
portrait site.
In addition, a member of CGL staff is
to be seconded to WISE for about four
weeks in the autumn as part of her own
professional development.
See Appendix 3 for more guidance
on specific initiatives linked to this
case study:
• Transparent career progression.
• Flexible working.
For useful resources and organisations to
support your work, see Appendix 4.
To find out more about the case study,