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Creating a more equitable and inclusive MEP industry

Diversity and Inclusion By Rabia Danyal, Senior Engineer, Building Services – 16 May 2023

Illustration of diverse women


Rabia posing in front of a wooden wall in a white shirt and waistcoat

Rabia Danyal

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Rabia Danyal, Senior Engineer recently spoke with MEP Middle East to share her thoughts on the status of diversity and inclusion within the MEP industry.

What are some of your personal achievements in the industry that you are particularly proud of?

Over the past eight years I have had the privilege of collaborating with diverse and talented teams and been able to leverage my problem-solving skills to confidently deliver high-quality design and effectively manage complex developments. I am passionate about contributing to the digital transformation of our industry and have volunteered for international programs including Expedition DNA and Global Shapers. I am determined to make a positive impact on the industry and help drive innovation forward.

Most recently, I have been the lead electrical engineer on challenging, large-scale, and fast-paced projects across the region, particularly within KSA.

In your opinion, has the focus on diversity and inclusion improved within the MEP industry over the past year?

The momentum gained by the industry over the past year in advancing diversity and inclusion is really encouraging. Important conversations are finally happening around what D&I truly means, and companies are becoming more conscious of the need for inclusive environments where everyone feels welcome and supported.

There is, however, still much work to be done. In order to increase diversity and truly achieve a sense of inclusion for all stakeholders we need to change mindsets and attitudes, which includes the way the industry is perceived. There needs to be broader engagement with schools to inspire more young women and students from diverse backgrounds, so that we can create a sense of belonging by connecting with everyone.

At Cundall, we understand that true D&I goes beyond simply tackling unconscious bias and encouraging more women to join the industry. It's about creating an environment where everyone feels valued and supported, and where their unique perspectives and experiences are celebrated. That's why we have several thriving employee-led networks that provide peer-to-peer support and raise awareness both within and outside of Cundall. Our networks engage with staff at all levels of the business to drive meaningful change in the office environment - we're committed to making a real difference.

It is up to all of us to continue pushing forward, driving meaningful change, and creating a more equitable and inclusive industry for everyone. Let's rise to the challenge and make a real difference.

What are some of the challenges women MEP professionals face in the industry and how can these be overcome?

Engineering is a fantastic and highly rewarding career for anyone, regardless of your gender, race or background. Despite this, the number of women entering the profession remains low - possibly due to a lack of female role models for girls at school when it comes to selecting vocational courses. Nevertheless, change is happening. The industry is slowly seeing more women being recruited into senior positions, and we are witnessing improved job opportunities for young female talent and seeing more women engineers being deployed on-site.

The industry is very fast paced, and it can be tough at the beginning of your career, as well as technically challenging. I would advise those in the early stage of their careers to give themselves a chance to learn. Don’t expect that you’ll know everything from day one. Utilise the knowledge and experience of the colleagues around you and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Humans are not perfect and we are bound to fail - it is better to fail fast, learn from your mistake, and try again.

There is still a prevailing gendered assumption that some technical roles are better suited to men because the work is somehow seen as having greater physical and mental demands. This is a false assumption, especially with technology levelling the field in terms of brute strength requirements!

Clearly, the challenge facing the MEP sector and the wider construction industry is not limited to attracting more women into the field, but also incorporates sustaining an encouraging and healthy environment for all employees to thrive, irrespective of gender.