Diversity wins but gaps persist: How can we close the inclusion divide?

5th March 2021
Gurminder Sagoo
Client Director

‘Diversity wins but gaps persist: How can we close the inclusion divide?’ hosted by Gurminder Sagoo, explores diversity in a broader sense and discusses ways in which we can tackle the inclusion divide with Ashwaq Albabtain, Project Manager at The Red Sea Development Company and Gurmeet Kaur, Partner at Pinsent Masons Middle East.

WSP Middle East · Episode 2: Diversity wins but gaps persist: How can we close the inclusion divide?
Not able to listen? Take a look at the complete transcript below.

A challenged world is an alert world and that brings opportunity, an opportunity to challenge the status quo and change. In this episode Ashwaq Albabtain Project Manager at the Red Sea development company and Gurmeet Kaur partner at Pinsent Masons Middle East. Join us to explore how we can close the inclusion divide and tackle the barriers to truly inclusive workspaces.

Gurminder Sagoo: Monday, March the 8th 2021 marks the hundredth International Womens’ day. With its grassroots set as far back as 1909, the first recognised international women’s day was held in 1911 and was observed by over one million people across Europe. A hundred years on from that first year, what’s international women’s day focusing on this year? Well, this year we choose to challenge. A challenged world is an alert world and that brings opportunity, an opportunity to challenge the status quo and change. Today we ask ourselves, diversity wins but gaps persist, how can we close the inclusion divide. In a current era of globalisation and connectivity, diversity in the business world is ever more important and ever more prevalent, and it’s much more than a gender topic, the subject has now extended to employees with diverse cultural, religious, political beliefs, education, and socioeconomic backgrounds, as well as disabilities. Companies are discovering, that by supporting and promoting a diverse and inclusive workplace they are gaining benefits that go beyond traditional optics. The purpose behind today’s podcast is to explore and discuss ways for companies and leaders to overcome stigmas and create a wider, diverse, and aware, modern working environment. The end goal is to find solutions that could potentially close the gaps which are preventing us from living and working in environments that are inclusive by nature.

My name is Gurminder Sagoo of WSP and today I am joined by Ashwaq Albabtain, Project Manager at The Red Sea Development Company, and Gurmeet Kaur, Partner at Pinsent Masons Middle East.

The end goal is to find solutions that could potentially close the gaps that are preventing us from living and working in environments that are inclusive by nature.

So, without further a due, thank you very much for joining me today and joining WSP for this discussion. Ashwaq, first of all, I would like to reach out to you, as an early founding employee of the Red Sea development company a big organisation in its relative with infancy but with a large and huge portfolio ahead of it, tell us a bit about your own personal journey.

Ashwaq Albabtain: First of all, thank you Gurminder for this opportunity, it’s an amazing opportunity to talk in such a podcast with WSP in particular.

Prior to discussing my personal journey with The Red Sea Development Company, I’d like to highlight the diversity that I have been included in. Prior to joining the company, I lived in the US for almost 4 years where I did my Masters of Business Administration with Information Technology Management as a minor, as part of King Abdullah’s scholarship program. I was privileged to be able to live in San Francisco as many of you might know it’s a diverse community and that kind of living have changed my perspective towards others and made me more open to diversity. And that was the kind of, the core, of my relationships that I built over the 4 years. I encouraged myself to have more acquaintances from different counties, backgrounds religious beliefs, ages, and even work experiences. I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to grow personally and professionally and have acquaintances from Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, China, Mexico and this is just an example of that. That kind of mix inspired me and provided me with, International networks that can take my career in exciting directions. And without that kind of scholarship, I wouldn’t have had that opportunity to meet such great people. And coming back home in December 2017 where vision 2030 actually, has opened the doors for me. and provided me with the ability to be part of the GIGA project and to add to you yes, I was employee no. 34 in the Red Sea Development Company and I have been honoured to be part of the team that is leading a new industry in the Kingdom with sustainable and regenerative development for the hospitality sector to be exact. Being an early joiner in the Red Sea Development Company, in April 2018, had shown me the benefit of a diverse team, I’m truly blessed to be surrounded by full of international talent. That includes more than 35 nationalities, they have expertise from all over the globe all are here to deliver the project share the knowledge and expertise with us. And I do believe that that kind of mix of international expertise backgrounds is providing us with our competitive advantage. Let’s say it’s the great blend of minds that’s creating Red Sea its unique perspective in the market and within other projects as well. After all, we are here developing a destination for the whole world. So, such a great mix of this kind of expertise is what’s needed for the project to succeed.

Research does show that organizations with a more diverse workforce do better because it means there will be a variety of perspectives and it helps us make better decisions.

Gurminder: Gurmeet, over to yourself, with over 21 years of experience in the legal sector, really focused around the built environment industry, now as a partner at the law firm Pinsent Masons. You’ll have seen the evolution of the diversity and inclusion topic during this time, I would really welcome your thoughts on this and really from the big corporate world and from your own personal journey, Gurmeet.

Gurmeet Kaur: Thank you very much Gurminder. So as Gurminder mentioned, I’m a partner at Pinsent Masons. Pinsent Masons is a global law firm. We operate across Europe, The Middle East, Asia Pacific, and Australia. To answer your question Gurminder, I’ve certainly seen the evolution of diversity within the legal profession. As I guess is unsurprising, the legal sector has traditionally not been very well known for its diversity, but it is very positive that there has been this progression. Before I get into my personal journey and some of the observations I have on the firm, I just think it will be useful to revisit why this evolution is very important. I think Ashwaq touched on this briefly as well, but I think for businesses it’s really really important to have a variety of people because it is far better for our clients and for the firm as well. Research does show that organizations with a more diverse workforce do better because it means there will be a variety of perspectives and it helps us make better decisions. We offer innovation and more insightful solutions for our clients, and this has been supported by research such as McKenzie, which has shown that better gender balance in senior management, in particular, leads to more financially successful businesses. And in the legal profession, as you know, ours is a services industry and building trust and strong relationships are really key for clients, and women are good at that. With clients coming from diverse backgrounds and we see a number of our clients now have women in senior leadership positions, we cannot hope to build a strong relationship and trust without that in-depth understanding and understanding from their perspective as well. I think finally and importantly, it’s also the right and fair thing to do. We thrive as an organisation when we allow people to be included, valued, and respected, and that’s what we are striving to do here at Pinsents. In terms of my personal journey, when I started as a junior lawyer in Australia, in Melbourne, there were really not many women partners in the firm and in fact none in my department. I started off doing construction law and 21 years later I’m still doing construction law and infrastructure, large-scale projects here in the Middle East and it’s something that I really enjoy. Unsurprisingly, 20 years. ago there weren’t really many women, certainly not many women partners in this area of the law, and it was especially important for me because I found it quite disappointing that there were not many role models I could look up to in terms of female partners and also as a young female lawyer who is aspiring to move up in her career and to have a family It was really important to have strong role models. In addition to that, it was quite challenging because I was also one of the few people from a minority ethnic background at that time. So just by way of background, I grew up in a very small town, a village even in Malaysia and I am of Indian cultural background and religion. I was fortunate to get a full scholarship to study law in Australia so in this respect another similarity with Ashwaq and her scholarship story. That was the start of my journey in Australia and I was pretty grateful for that because it was not something my parents could have afforded, private school fees were certainly not possible, let alone an overseas education, but I did very well and was accepted to do articles in a prestigious top tier law firm in Melbourne a city law firm that’s where my journey started. But of course, it was challenging, it was quite a demanding culture, I learned a lot but often did feel a little bit out of place. So, when I moved to Dubai in 2007 the move was largely because of my work, I had an opportunity to moved out here at that time in 2007. Dubai was booming, there was a lot of construction and infrastructure projects and It was certainly where I wanted to be. But I found that I was in a similar position again because in terms of gender balance there were very few female partners working in this area of the law. I was lucky that I was promoted fairly quickly after joining and I was the first female partner promoted into the projects and finance team at that time in my firm in Dubai I joined Pinsent Masons in 2018 and at that time was also the only female partner in the projects team in the office in Dubai. We have now two other partners which are great, one promoted last year and another one, also a projects partner, who relocated to our region, she is now also a regional managing partner, which is a great first for the firm and a good one for the region. And I’m happy to say that in our regional projects team at the moment the composition is 50% female partners, so it’s certainly progress.

Gurminder: That’s a great achievement Gurmeet and it’s nice to hear of other organisations that are focusing on the progression of females to senior leadership roles.

Gurmeet: Pinsents is very committed to enabling more women to progress to senior leadership roles, and Pinsents started a project called ‘Sky’. This is a program to achieve gender balance in 2013. At that time there were only 19% of our partners who are female, and the executive leadership team was entirely male. Whereas when you look at our graduate intake there is about 60-70% who are females and it certainly did not reflect the proportion of women graduating from law school. So, we recognized that we are not getting the full potential of our female talent and in order to continue to grow and succeed as a business we needed to address this issue. So we did some research to identify what were the barriers, and some of the things that came out of that research were a lack of role models, especially at the senior level, the need for flexible working, a lack of clarity and transparency about career progression. There was also a perception of presentism because I think unsurprisingly in a very demanding professional law firm, there was this. I guess a perception that you needed to be seen, so you had to be at the office at 8 pm, 9 pm, whatever it may be, and there was also a really need to have more structural support to overcome disruption in career by periods of maternity leave/ This is something I’ll touch upon for my personal experience as well because looking back at my career back in Australia, one of the key reasons I managed to stay in law was because I had the support from my firm when I had maternity leave breaks. I have 2 children, fortunately, they are fairly grown up now, but in those early days it was quite difficult and I was a bit concerned about career progression because I had my children fairly early on when I was just an associate, a fairly young associate. So I was very considered about ‘so does this mean I am not able to move up to the senior associate position?’ and so on and so forth, but I was fortunate that the firm I was working with allowed me to take the break I wanted. So I took 9 nine months for each child and I came back and I was able to work part-time. It was also supported obviously by regulations in the country because in Australia, by a matter of law, they have to keep the job open for a year so we could take unpaid maternity leave for up to a year, so that was certainly a reassuring thing and I decided I want that time off. When I came back, I initially worked in the knowledge management team, so it wasn’t a client-facing role but it allowed me to get back into the legal profession and it allowed me some time to get used to having young children at home and getting back into work. So, that was good, and later I moved to another firm and by that time I’d decided that I want to go back into a client-facing role. I was able to get a part-time role as well so that was very fortunate, and it’s largely down to the people I was working for, so I was lucky that I had particularly supportive bosses, all who happened to be men, but they were good mentors, and they did push for my promotion. So when I came back from my first maternity leave I actually got promoted to senior associate, so it was great that period of time didn’t affect my promotion, ok it delayed it but it didn’t mean that I wasn’t considered for promotion. That’s one message I’d like to pass on, that it is really important to have a good mentor and a sponsor because it’s very important to get that support as you move up in your career. Coming back to Pinsents again, I think when they started the program in 2013, they had an aspiration of hitting 25% female partnerships by 2018 and we actually achieved that a year early. So by 2017, we had reached 25.8% of women in partnership positions and we actually have nine of them in very senior leadership positions, three board members, a director of finance and also a group head, and four on the remuneration and partnerships committee. Our board is now comprised of 44% females, and these are great statistics indeed for a company that started this program in 2013. So how did we do it and what did we do? I think this is also quite an interesting thing to share. Apart from establishing the Sky program, the key factor was obviously senior leadership was truly behind the diversity agenda. What we also now establish is we track the talent in the pipeline in a systematic way and produce gender balance promotion shortlists. So, these need to reflect the male: female ratios with a’ comply or explain’ approach, so the group heads will need to explain why, if a promotion list does not reflect the gender balance. I think that’s quite unique for a lot of law firms. The other thing that’s unique is our external recruitment agencies have been briefed and instructed to present a gender balance shortlist and we also have rolled out inclusive behaviour training across the business to tackle things such as unconscious bias. We also have things like reciprocal mentoring, where for example a female associate may be paired up with a male partner or vice versa, so you get the chance to understand the other person’s perspective. One example of this was when a female senior associate mentee had a male partner, and he as a mentor had to step into her shoes for a day and found it really challenging trying to balance through a very tough load and also carry responsibilities at home, for example needing to pick up kids from school, which meant she had to be extremely organized at work and leave at a particular time, therefore cutting short lunch breaks and so on and so forth. So, I think stepping into another person’s shoes certainly helped give that perspective and help as a manager to then make better decisions. One of the results of all that was also at Pinsents we started implementing an agile work policy, which was far-reaching and well ahead of a number of our peers, and in fact It put us in very good stead when we had the COVID 19 pandemic because by that time we were already fully equipped to actually work agile and flexibly.

Gurminder: Thanks for that Gurmeet

A report recently done by McKenzie, suggests that 39% of people surveyed have either turned down or not pursued a job due to their perceived lack of inclusion.

Gurmeet: One technique for increasing the diversity pipeline is the use of quotas. There has been quite a bit of debate on whether the use of quotas is useful in this context. In Pinsent Mason we have chosen not to go down the route of using quotas but the quotas certainly may have some merit in some situations for example Nastech in early December 2020 submitted a proposal to the SEC to require listed companies to have one woman board member and another member from an underrepresented group. The proposal was for firms who did not comply with this requirement must justify their failure or risk being delisted from the exchange. This rule was radical for a securities exchange however it might be a reflection of marketplace acceptance of quotas as a technique for realising diversity. In fact, a number of key private equity investors and pension funds have initiated their own diversity efforts. This has also been reflected in legislation. In Norway, for example, 17 years ago, they passed legislation for a corporate board quota and since 2010 many other countries have followed suit including the world’s top 10 economies and much of Europe. India set a precedent for the Nastech quota when it set a quota requiring one woman on each board in 2013. That law elicited many skeptical responses that have one woman was merely a token representation but even so the one woman quota did in fact force firms to eliminate the exclusive men’s club nature of their boardrooms. So there is some validity in the use of quotas and depending on each organisation they may or may not which to employ this method for increasing diversity.

Gurminder: Thanks Gurmeet for that, it’s actually quite interesting to see that Pinsent Masons set themselves targets for diversification and achieved this through initiative as opposed to setting themselves quotas, and I think that’s quite an interesting way of achieving and closing that diversity gap. Sometimes, as you’ve demonstrated, quotas do work and they have been seen to work in probably some of the most extreme circumstances, somewhat. Pinsent Masons have clearly set out different ways of achieving aspirations in this regard, with regards to diversity and closing that diversity gap. Really, policy versus action, when we talk about diversity wins and closing gaps, conversations really are about you know, is the conversation just a conversation or do we actually see, do we actually see a change in reality. In terms of how we operate and how we behave with each other, and what exists on the ground and I just want to delve, into your thoughts around general companies in general operations and taking ourselves away from the conversation of the kingdom and really about how businesses operate. It’s quite interesting there was a report recently done by McKenzie, that suggests that 39% of people surveyed in the report have either turned down or not pursued a job due to their perceived lack of inclusion. So, let’s just think about that for a second, there are people out there that believe, that jobs are not right for them, or they wouldn’t get the job. because there’s a perception of a lack of inclusion; they feel that they would be excluded is part of that. So, what do you think the key change is, that we need to make in our industry to enable real, genuine inclusion? And not just talking about it or reporting a number, but what do we really need to do? And does, does privilege have its part to play in that and how do we balance this across our people to ensure to, deliver a diverse culture, have everybody’s voices heard and we don’t have people that don’t feel that they can’t join an organisation because of the perception of the lack of inclusion. So, what are your thoughts really around enabling real inclusion?

Ashwaq: So it’s been said that diversity speaks to who is in the team but inclusion focuses on who is really in the game and they love that kind of a saying. And to add to that I believe that in order to enable people to have inclusion and to have a genuine inclusion to be exact, is for us to create an environment of psychological safety. So, when people feel free and safe to speak up, ask questions or make suggestions without the fear of overstepping or damaging their position, we are empowering them, we are providing them a seat at the table let’s say, when I believe as well if we lead by example, when the leaders in the organisation have led by example by providing people the space to talk, the space to ask questions. As you know culture and environment start from the top, so when they act on it, when they value it, and when they have it as part of the company’s culture and DNA, they are influencing others throughout their organisation and provide them the opportunity to be heard, valued and respected. So, I do believe some organisations around the country have been leading into hitting the number, checking the box, including a female and all social media coverage, just for the sake of ‘oh we have a female on the board’, but it’s not only diversity it’s the inclusion of it, are they part of the decision-makers, is their voice heard, or is it just for the sake of a kind of coverage. I believe diversity is needed for the business to grow and succeed and having females or any minority in general as part of decision making is what’s going to make the economy grow and make it have that kind of stability as well. So, in a nutshell, psychological safety, leading by example, that’s when we act on diversity including and having them embedded in our culture.

Gurminder: That’s brilliant Ashwaq and I think one of the key points there is, is really moving the process from being a policy and a tick box exercise to actually recognising, and I think one of the key points there, is recognising that really diversity and inclusion brings success with it. It brings the success of organisations and really through our conversation today, just taking yourself as an individual and your personal experience starting, back at your time in the States and living in a very diverse environment and driving yourself to engage in a broad number of people from abroad number of backgrounds gives you that experience, gives you the experience to view the value of people bring to, number one, your life and as such recognise that people from different backgrounds, people from different genders and different thinking bring value to organisations as well. Do you think, and its’ quite interesting because it’s International Women’s day, which is clearly a gender topic, and here we are talking about diversity in a very broad sense, and it’s very good that when we have days like today when we celebrate something like International Women’s Day which is clearly a gender topic it actually opens up the conversation to talk about diversity in general.

Do you believe we are missing anything from the conversation just in the Middle East in general? We talk about gender diversity a lot and today we’re trying to clearly talk about diversity as a topic but do we need to think broader when we talk about diversity?

Ashwaq: I do believe that, to be honest. I feel gender is one of the main discussions, it’s an international subject, like the pay gap, breaking the ceiling or whatever, women trying to improve themselves, and so on in a male dominant sector especially. But, however, I think that we haven’t provided the minority groups the attention needed. Those who are in general somehow face difficulties in their voice being heard, and I do believe that diversity or the opportunity to listen to this kind of minority groups or specific areas, is by providing them the culture of safe environments, to speak up, and to be heard and be respected, and that actually having them as part of decision-makers, having that kind of open-door policy to able to address their different needs. It’s the ability to open up to everyone, not only because of your gender and that they need to listen to you because a woman, it’s not that, the way that I see it, it’s more of having an open door for everyone to speak up to whatever is needed.

Gurminder: Absolutely and that really gets around the conversation we had earlier and the question around privilege – some people somewhat have privilege because they are more confident at speaking in a room, they more able to get out and about, and actually the point that you make around providing a safe platform for everybody to be heard and speak up is something that would support diversity and gender and really I would suggest that it would make businesses more successful because they get a number of different viewpoints and it makes us in this global world that we work and operate in that will make us all understanding of each of the needs. One of the things that I’m drawing a parallel between your conversation and with Ashwaq is around the scholarship and our ability really to feed this diverse workforce in this diverse leadership that we always go to but unless we are able to feed it with good quality diverse candidates right, they then need somewhat falls apart you know. Do we need to do more of the grassroots level Gurmeet?

Gurmeet: That’s a really excellent question Gurminder. I think the answer is yes we do, and in terms of certainly what Pinsents is doing, we also focus a lot not just on gender but also ethnicity, race, and faith equality as well, and one program that we’ve started is to reach out to community organizations, charitable organizations and make sure that underrepresented groups have the equal access to the legal profession, and a lot of that involves going out to schools, going out to universities, talking to people who have aspirations in a legal career, that they know what it’s all about and also having good role models, so I think the role models I aspect is really important,  so people such as myself, Ashwaq, others who thought this part is really important, for us to share our stories to get it out there and give people some inspiration that if that’s what they’d like to do, then it’s certainly possible. Within organisations themselves, it’s really important then to have awareness as well. Like I mentioned before, the whole thing about unconscious bias training, the purpose of that is really to challenge, in particular managers, to think about how they make hiring decisions and promotion decisions. For me personally, when I did the unconscious bias training it did open my eyes to a lot of things. For example, there are many cultures where you are to be respectful, you don’t challenge senior people, and in some cultures, you don’t make direct eye contact with senior people. I have been in situations where a younger lawyer may not be so comfortable challenging the opinions of seniors and often this has got to do with cultural upbringing. I think I can relate to that because personally coming from a very conservative background I had to face that. However, the value of doing the unconscious bias training is then you become aware of such things, and as a good manager you then make sure that the quieter team members are specifically asked to provide their opinions, and I think becoming more aware, especially in organizations who trickle down this awareness through programs, that’s certainly a key element of progressing forward with a diversity agenda. Once you do that, and once you’re actively looking for people with talent, regardless of whether they fit the mould you may think they need to fit, that’s when you can get true inclusion.

You can’t change people’s personalities, but you can provide them with the that safety that when they do speak up, they will be heard, respected, and valued for whatever they are sharing.

Gurminder: Gurmeet, I couldn’t agree more. While it’s important to inspire young talent, we are all different and shaped by different backgrounds. We have to be aware of this in order to break down the moulds we have developed over the years.

Ashwaq, I’m going to put you on the spot here with one last final question really, this year’s theme on international women’s day is about seizing the opportunity around change.
So, what would be the one thing you would like to see change, to help close the inclusion gap?

Ashwaq: OK, let me think about it with you, so I do believe that one thing I wish would happen, is to really have the opportunity for everyone to speak up. From my own experience of working within the Red Sea Development Company and the experiences of my friends, when everyone has a platform to speak up and is provided an opportunity, without political issues, hierarchy, that kind of pure level, with that kind of organisation, I feel like that hierarchy, that kind of organizational limit is limiting everyone in speaking up and sharing their input. That might not benefit their department immediately but it’s going to benefit the organization as a whole. One of the things that I would love is when we hire a female to be in a leading position, is giving them the power, not only the title. It’s empowering them, giving them the authority as well, not just for the sake of media coverage or hitting numbers. It’s the kind of inclusion where everyone listens to every open-door policy. So in a nutshell, one change that I would love to see is that giving or providing the opportunity for everyone to be heard. I have been privileged enough to have that kind of access in the Red Sea Development Company and I’m thankful for that. But it’s kind of my personality, it’s how Ashwaq does things, it’s how I talk to people. I go to our chief administrative officer and I sit and chat for thirty minutes to discuss things that some in the organization will not have that kind of ability, not because they are limiting them, but because I have that kind of upfront perspective. I think one thing that can benefit us all is providing an open door for everyone to speak up. You can’t change people’s personalities, but you can provide them that safety that when they do speak up, they will have that kind of security that they will be heard, respected, and valued for whatever they are sharing.

Gurminder: I think that’s a wonderful point to conclude on our question, I would really like to thank you on behalf of WSP for joining today, I have seen you speak at events I’ve seen you be supported by very senior people within the Red Sea Development Company. It’s really good to see the culture that exists within the organization but you’re right I think part of it is the organization that supports its great diversity and it’s working hard to ensure that those gaps don’t exist versus your personality which is a great personality, for example, being engaged in this conversation it’s something that your keen to do as well it’s good that you see that providing a platform for others to speak who might not necessarily have the personality or just the confidence to do that of finding ways and means for these people for individuals those to be heard is definitely a great step toward closing that gap. Thank you very much for today!

Ashwaq: Thank you.

Gurminder:  It’s been an absolute pleasure, thank you very much.

Ashwaq: Thank you so much for providing me with such an opportunity to talk about diversity in general and inclusion specifically. Thank you to WSP for always keeping me in mind for such events.

Gurminder: Gurmeet, over to you for the kind of, wrap-up really, it’s been really good to have you on today’s podcast. It’s really good to hear about your organisation’s focus on diversity, it’s really good to get your own personal experiences in your career, not only from a gender perspective but also from a general diversity perspective. It’s international women’s day, the conversation does revolve around gender but when we do speak about gender and inclusion, it does open up the conversation broader. This year’s theme is about seizing opportunity around change, just as one statement if it’s one thing you would like to see changed to help close the inclusion gap, what would it be Gurmeet?

Gurmeet: Thankyou Gurminder for that question, one thing I would like to see a change in order for us to close the inclusion gap, is for us to move towards a culture where managers and leaders know they will be challenged to justify their decisions based on diversity data. So, leaders will need to challenge and test their own decisions and move away from lazy thinking, to one that is based on awareness and inclusion.

Gurminder: I couldn’t agree more Gurmeet. Thank you so much for joining us on today’s podcast.

Gurmeet: Thank you very much to Gurminder and the WSP team for this opportunity to participate in this podcast. We have covered a variety of topics, which I very much enjoyed discussing and I wish you all a wonderful international women’s day.

Gurminder: So, that brings us to the end of this podcast session, and I would like to say thanks to both Ashwaq and Gurmeet for their contributions today. Just to reflect back on some key takeaways: firstly, I think we’re all in agreement that we need senior leadership to help close the diversity gap, real senior leadership and senior leadership teams that are somewhat reflective of their aspirations; this can be achieved through a number of platforms that empower people. Creating platforms for those who are less vocal, to allow them to speak, levels the privilege field to work on moving policy into a culture, which takes time but can only be driven from the top. Second of all, I think it’s clear that Pinsent Masons, as well as the Red Sea Development Company, have demonstrated that setting targets and aspirations does work if executed through cultural change, cultural actions, and actions of senior leadership. We must remember that targets and aspirations are different from quotas, and targets and aspirations are culture-driven.

Finally, I think we need to recognise that in order to move to a better place of diversity for all companies so that companies can be successful from having a diverse workplace; we need to do more at the grassroots level to ensure that the intake into our industry and the intake into our companies feed our diversity aspirations.

My name is Gurminder Sagoo, I’ve really enjoyed speaking with you today. On behalf of WSP thank you very much.