Andy Mitchell CBE, CEO
Tideway’s journey towards achieving gender parity began weeks into Andy’s new role as CEO, when after an industry dinner he announced that he wanted gender parity by the end of the project (due in 2023). In a recent interview, he said, “I knew this was a place where we could achieve something different which would leave a legacy for generations about how good the construction world can be. This is not really a man’s world: we need women, and we need diversity. It’s a fact that a diverse workforce is a more productive one and if we are to deliver infrastructure that is of most use to society, we are more likely to achieve that with a team that is representative of that society.”
Andy’s intent is to have a transformative effect, not just on Tideway but on knowing that the vast majority of people working on the project will work together on future projects and take their experiences of diversity, inclusion and gender parity into these projects in the UK and around the world.
Beyond Andy’s personal integrity and commitment, his vision has translated directly into organisational objectives. It is reflected in Tideway’s strategic plan, its annual business plans at business unit level, the organisation’s Key Performance Indicators and colleagues’ personal objectives, including executive management team members.
Andy personally supports the work of Tideway’s employee-led Gender Group, including holding focus group meetings and roundtable sessions to discuss issues like recruitment, career development and progression, best practices and women on boards, and personally mentoring women on the project. Although Andy is regularly invited to speak at external events due to his known authenticity on gender parity, he and the executive team have pledged not to speak on all-male panels at events.
Andy has also personally discussed Tideway’s commitment to improving gender diversity with the CEOs of the project’s Main Works Contractors (MWC), who will directly employ 4,000 staff. Each MWC must have a formal Diversity Plan, which is reviewed by Tideway’s Legacy Committee, Skills Planning Group and Skills and Employment Committee. The MWCs also have KPIs from Tideway for the employment of ex-offenders, apprentices and local people.
Andy believes passionately that creating the right culture and working environment is key. Although Tideway is a complex organisation, it ensures that all non-direct employees working with the project (including the US-owned project management company, professional services firms and contractors) all understand its gender parity promise is real and share Tideway’s values and behaviours around this. In a complicated matrix delivery environment and with a diverse mix of employees, employers and parent companies, Tideway strives for a full inclusive and integrated ‘one team, one goal’ approach.
Andy has personally driven the development of Tideway’s values and cultures by fostering diversity within his own team and creating an inclusive work environment. He regularly challenges people and processes within the organisation to support inclusion and is keen to continually develop self-awareness of his own biases and impact using diagnostics.
With Andy’s backing, Tideway has the dedicated resources needed to deliver on its gender parity promise. These include operational budgets, in-house subject matter expertise and advice, membership of external equalities campaigns and networks and senior sponsorship of internal employee-led groups. Tideway has also publicly shared its aim that organisations across its supply chain will do the same.
In two years, Tideway has achieved what more established organisations have taken much longer to accomplish, by absorbing lessons learned from the construction sector and comparable public sector infrastructure projects from the outset.
Since 2015, Andy’s personal pledge led to Tideway implementing a wide range of actions, including:
- A Returnship programme with the Women Returners Network, and Transitions Coaching before, during and after maternity leave and other extended breaks
- Investment in an industry-first culturally modest Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and investigating PPE specifically designed for pregnancy
- Pro bono advice and support with interviews and CV surgeries to organisations helping women into work
- A Skills and Education programme supporting women into STEM from primary school to university and beyond
- Unconscious bias training and inclusive recruitment and selection processes
- Mentoring and buddying
- A maternity package beyond the statutory minimum
Tideway has already created measurable quantitative and qualitative impacts. 54% of the organisation’s 173 employees are female, and the latest engagement survey shows staff feel Tideway is inclusive (89%), family friendly (76%) and shows care and concern for its employees (85%).