8 March 2022

Women of CCi – Breaking the Bias

BY: Charlotte Hobbs | IN: Articles


International Women’s Day 2022 fell on 8th March, with an overarching focus on breaking down gender biases that cause gender inequality in our societies #BreaktheBias. In the lead up to International Women’s Day, we wanted the voices of Our People to join the conversation; both men and women.

In this article we sat down with Women of CCi, ranging in their day-to-day roles from technical forensic consultants to operational corporate services. In a Q&A style interview, we discuss how the construction, engineering and insurance industries have changed over the course of their careers.

Aime Harrison
Managing Director

"You cannot be what you do not see"

Why is gender equality important in the workplace?

Research has proven that diverse teams create better working environments. Evidence shows that people do their best work in groups with shared values and purpose, where everyone feels included. Creating a business culture that celebrates and encourages Diversity and Inclusion requires active consciousness of cognitive biases.

I hear too often about women with diminished working hours and career breaks arising from discrimination in their workplace, which is wholly related to workplace culture.

I hear about university graduates, job seekers and those returning to work facing challenges in their careers and I am reminded of my own search for academic and corporate websites with diverse representation.

What can we do to combat gender bias?

I am a firm believer that ‘you cannot be what you do not see’, so I have actively taken part in mentoring throughout my career to encourage and to create space for new perspectives within my industry. We should not need to resemble those who have historically held positions of power in order to be recognised and heard. 

I welcome a greater awareness of gender discrimination the workplace. Too often one gender has been overlooked, interrupted, and excluded from important discussions. Old stereotypes that equate to office housework tasks should not be managed by one gender. It is never optimal to have someone doing menial tasks no one wants to do, simply for the benefit of day-to-day operations. This perpetuates inequality and is bad for the business.

To break the bias, we must all:

  • challenge both implicit and explicit discrimination;
  • actively address offensive language and disrespectful behaviour through inclusive communications; and
  • question whether our decision-making processes are equitable and fair.

We all possess the potential to develop our awareness individually as well as collectively.

Siti Noordin

"Let them know that there is no wrong or right way to be a girl."

How does gender diversity affect employee engagement?

Gender diversity promotes employee engagement as when people feel included, they are more likely to advocate for the company and feel happier in their jobs.

Gender diversity motivates both men and women to work harder; everyone wants to be given a fair chance and equal opportunity.

The future is bright! What is something you'd like the next generation of women to experience without bias?

I want the next generation of women to be encouraged to speak out and assert themselves. Counter narratives that describe women as ‘bossy’ are outdated and wrong. Women are being bold not ‘bossy’.

I look forward to girls and women knowing their thoughts matter and understanding the endless possibilities of their potential. 

Katherine Morris

"Ask questions, reflect, be prepared to change when it matters."

Was gender equality something that influenced your career path?

Yes, at school a hard hat and steel capped boots was the last thing I thought I’d ever wear to work, but hey that’s life! When I left school there was an initiative to get women into engineering. I took that opportunity to study engineering and was sponsored throughout university.

What changes in gender equality have you noticed over the course of your career?

Women do have more of a voice, a choice and are not afraid to speak out.  This applies to a number of women I have worked with in the industry, however over the years the number of women I have worked with in engineering has been too few. 

Suzanne Chinner
Senior Associate Director

"Best person for the job and a fair go for everyone, is all I am after."

What is the one thing we can do to have a positive impact on gender equality?

I strive to be the best at what I do, not just the best woman. And when it comes to selecting the right person for a job, opportunities to advance or even remuneration, I want to compete in a world where these decisions are based on experience, ability and value added.

I do not seek any special treatment because of my gender, but also do not want to be placed at a disadvantage  because of it. 

What action is CCi taking to break the bias?

At CCi, I have always felt respected and appreciated based on the quality of work I produce, and have never felt as though I would be treated differently based on gender. Opportunities to advance and develop are provided to all, regardless of gender or any other bias.

Joanne Williams
Head of Architectural Services

"It could feel very lonely being the only woman on a site or in an office."

What biases have you overcome during your career?

Some biases I have encountered over my career include the notion that part-time or flexible working is incompatible with the construction industry, business decisions being made in the pub on a Friday night, when not everyone is present, and assumptions about competency, aspirations and career on the basis that I am a woman. 

We have come a long way in shifting bias, but we are still working to overcome them.

What changes in gender equality have you noticed over the course of your career?

When my mother left school in the 1950s, she had a choice of ‘teacher’ or ‘nurse’. By the time I left school in the 1980s, professional careers in the construction industry were possible, but unusual for women.

Having completed industry qualifications, my contemporaries and I still found the biases in the construction industry very hard to overcome.  In the last few years, I have seen a noticeable increase in women entering all parts of the industry, including jobs that were traditionally considered ‘too dirty’.

Social media has helped to increase visibility and participation in support and mentoring groups. Even if you are the only woman in your workplace,  you can feel that other women have your back.

Sandra Hugo
Senior Associate Director

"Gender equality is something that cannot be forced, it needs to happen naturally."

What is the one thing we can do to have a positive impact on gender equality?

People need to be aware of gender bias and where possible take gender out of the equation: consider the best person for the role, based on merit, qualifications, and experience. Gender equality does not mean asking for preferential treatment, just a level playing field and the same opportunities as your male counterparts.

CCi encourages you to take a test that measures implicit attitudes and beliefs on careers and gender:


The researchers that produced this test are investigating implicit social cognition, or thoughts and feelings that are largely outside of conscious awareness and control. “Project Implicit is the product of a team of scientists whose research produced new ways of understanding attitudes, stereotypes, and other hidden biases that influence perception, judgment, and action. Our researchers and collaborators translate that academic research into practical applications for addressing diversity, improving decision-making, and increasing the likelihood that practices are aligned with personal and organizational values.