Atkins and its subsidiary company Faithful+Gould have taken a major step forward in their goal to become employers of choice for women in the Middle East, after changing their maternity policy to allow up to 14 weeks' paid maternity leave.
The new policy ensures the companies are among the leaders in the Middle East construction sector for maternity benefits. Its introduction was spearheaded by the Middle East Women's Business Network (WBN), which was established by Atkins and Faithful+Gould to develop a corporate environment which will better enable women to achieve long term careers in the industry.
Simon Moon, chief executive officer for Atkins in the Middle East, said: "We're determined to create a truly diverse working environment where there are no constraints for talent to succeed.
“Historically maternity benefits in the region have given little flexibility about how or when new mothers will return to their jobs, so many feel there is little choice but to leave work altogether. This represents a needless loss of their skills and expertise, which we're pleased to address through our new maternity policy.”
Atkins' female employees will now be entitled to maternity leave with full pay for up to 14 weeks, including both pre and postnatal periods. Thereafter, they will also be entitled to take up to six months unpaid maternity leave, with the option of taking paid Keeping in Touch (KIT) days to remain in contact with their teams.
Kathleen McGrail, programme director for Atkins Acuity and chairperson of the WBN, added: "This is a major milestone for the business which will make a very tangible difference to the lives of our female employees and their families. Our aspiration to become an employer of choice for women is turning into reality, giving us a significant advantage when it comes to attracting and retaining female talent in the industry."
One of the first women to benefit from the policy change is Renu Chandna, a Dubai-based project manager for Atkins. She said: "Kudos to Atkins for taking this major leap forward in the wellbeing of its employees and giving them the opportunity to have a better work-life balance."
About Atkins Atkins is one of the world's most respected design, engineering and project management consultancies, employing some 18,600 people across the UK, North America, Middle East, Asia Pacific and Europe. It builds long term trusted partnerships to create a world where lives are enriched through the implementation of its ideas. To view Atkins' recent projects visit www.atkinsglobal.com
Atkins and Faithful+Gould launched the Middle East Women's Business Network (WBN) in August 2014 in order to support the retention and attraction of women into the business, while building a more positive gender balance in senior roles. The WBN has attracted strong support from internal and external stakeholders, all looking to promote gender diversity in a traditionally male-dominated industry. Some of the programmes launched through the WBN include: a buddy programme for welcoming new women into the business, a coaching and mentoring programme designed to provide guidance and encouragement, and women's networking events.