“The organisation is developing strongly. At first the attitude was conservative. Now the company is actively engaged in thinking about the issue and is showing commitment to having more women in higher positions. Seven male ambassadors have now also joined the women’s network, EVA. They form the link with the men in the organisation and make their contribution to meeting the objectives of EVA.”

About the organisation

Dura Vermeer Groep NV is active in construction, infrastructure and engineering. Dura Vermeer works with partners to create comprehensive and sustainable solutions for a wide variety of construction projects.

The family firm Dura Vermeer has been in existence for more than 160 years. Key concepts are: continuity, sustainability, stability, craftsmanship, and solidarity. Dura Vermeer thinks it is important for there to be room for employees to achieve personal ambitions and it challenges employees to pursue personal development, creativity and entrepreneurship. Dura Vermeer tries to demonstrate responsible business conduct through transparent business practices and sustainable entrepreneurship.

  • Sector: construction industry
  • Number of employees: 2500
  • Total share of women in organisation: 15%
  • Share of women at the top: 10 people, 1 woman (10%)
  • Share of women in middle management: 122 people, 18 women (15%)

Approach

In its strategy, Dura Vermeer names ‘diversity’ and ‘a broad and complementary organisation’ as important themes. This fits in with the family firm’s long-term outlook when it come to continuously improving the company, and is also the reason for the focus on bringing more women into construction. The Chair of the executive board indicates that this is urgently needed, because the share of highly qualified women in management and other high positions is currently still too low at Dura Vermeer. The view that the complementarity of different personal characteristics is of importance for the company’s performance is increasingly permeating the business.

Dura Vermeer is implementing three strategies for putting more women into senior and middle management positions.

Women’s network EVA

Dura Vermeer’s women’s network, EVA, was set up in 2016. EVA connects women within Dura Vermeer. The aim of EVA is to attract and retain women at management level, and to let women grow into management jobs (both in project-related and line positions). EVA wants to promote diversity and ensure that no talent is wasted. This topic is particularly opportune in a labour market that is becoming increasingly tight. The women’s network also does research internally into obstacles to diversity in the organisation, the male/female ratio in management and management board positions, and salary gaps between men and women.

Recently, a group of male ambassadors was appointed within Dura Vermeer that will make an active contribution towards spreading the influence of EVA. A mentoring pool has also been created, through which management board members are linked to EVA members. In addition, work is progressing on setting up a training programme aimed specifically at women. The board of EVA regularly meets the executive board and acts as an advisory body.

Support at the top

The deep-rooted conviction of the executive board that the company needs women in middle and senior management is of great importance to the cultural change that Dura Vermeer is experiencing. The supervisory board also stands behind the initiative of the women’s network EVA.

“We give EVA a platform within the organisation. That’s the most important instrument that we employ. What is also important, certainly in a family firm, is the way in which our owner talks about diversity. He is very clear about the importance of women in middle and senior management.” (Alfred Boot – HR director)

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Furthermore, Dura Vermeer works with KPIs to facilitate advancement. There are different KPIs for the various levels in the organisation. The KPIs vary according to whether staff or line positions are concerned. The KPIs are results-oriented and internally this is felt to be a very strong point. They get the company moving.

“We monitor internal staff flow. This makes the male/female ratio within the company clear. We then set this information alongside the KPIs that we’ve linked to this issue. If you don’t do that, nothing will happen.” (Alfred Boot – HR director)

If the KPIs are not reached, this is acted on in order to enter into discussion with each other and consider how to do things better. This makes it clear that the combination of monitoring and having target figures offers tools for entering into discussion on the proportion of women in middle and senior management.

What are the benefits?

Thanks to the commitment of the executive board, the active involvement of the women’s network EVA and various means of communication, such as a dedicated Facebook page, Dura Vermeer has succeeded in raising awareness of the importance of having more women in the construction industry. Through the investigations done by EVA, there is also greater clarity about the biggest obstacles to the promotion and inflow of women at Dura Vermeer. This awareness has led to questions being posed internally about the traditional manner of building a career in construction.

Tips

  1. Also appoint male ambassadors to the women’s network. This creates greater support for identifying more competent women in the organisation and allowing them to progress.
  2. Dare to think differently about carrying out jobs. Training should not be central here, but rather the competences that are needed for a person to do a job well.
  3. Consult with a diverse team of recruiters on the competences and characteristics that are necessary for vacant positions now and in the future. Discuss what this means for the job description that will be drawn up and who you will attract with that description. This will ensure that you produce job descriptions that also appeal to women.

Contact

Freya van der Kroef, Strategy Division Infra Programme Manager and also Executive Board Member of EVA:f.kroef@duravermeer.nl

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