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INWED 21 | Are our workplaces as open and welcoming as we think?


On International Women in Engineering Day we tend to focus just on gender diversity but we also need to consider race when it comes to creating an open and welcoming work environment.

My day to day role involves dividing my time between pavement design and managing our Connect Plus Services projects on and around the M25 but I’m also the Transportation engagement lead for the Atkins EMBRACE network.Thevani-Ravindran-300x200.jpg

Thevani Ravindran is an assistant engineer at Atkins

The Atkins EMBRACE network was established to provide an open and supportive environment for our employees to discuss ideas and solutions around a range of topics including race. Our goal is to help build on the business’ appreciation of the diverse contexts in which it operates, in order for our wider workforce to better understand the challenges faced by our employees from ethnic minority backgrounds and how they can be supported and championed. We’ve held a multitude of panel events and discussions that have received a great response from our industry community, and have plenty more plans in the pipeline to keep equality, diversity and inclusion at the forefront of the business’ objectives.

For a long time I was trying to find my cause in the company, as I’m passionate about so many areas that need championing including reducing our environmental impact and promoting women in the engineering field – but EMBRACE is where I saw myself tangibly making a difference. As a South Asian woman from South London, I’ve overcome a number of challenges and barriers in pursuing my career in the engineering industry. Being part of EMBRACE gives me a platform to use my personal experiences and insights to contribute to the breakdown of these outdated hurdles, so that the next generation of aspiring engineers from any background can focus on developing their skills and driving innovation without needing to first jump through hoops to do so.

From a business perspective, productivity levels are bound to increase where employees feel supported and understood in an inclusive environment, and where opportunities to progress are transparent and equally available to everyone based on their own merit. Additionally, the more diverse the workforce, the wider the range of perspective that the business can offer, leading to greater creativity and innovation. Attracting talent is also more likely where businesses can show their commitment to a better working environment for everyone, which in turn will boost the company’s performance and growth.

On a more personal level, promoting a network that supports and champions the diversity of our workforce gives me a sense of purpose in the long-term development of the company as well as of the wider industry. Generations before us have broken down barriers to give us the opportunities available today, and I feel proud to continue their work towards making the industry a more inclusive and collaborative place for generations after us.

Joining EMBRACE has introduced me to many inspiring individuals with the same values who are striving for the same changes, and has truly broadened my professional network – whilst having a space to openly discuss challenges and know I’m not alone has tremendously helped my wellbeing. The more voices pushing for change from the bottom up with passion, ambition and an open mind, the more likely it is that our business’ equality, diversity and inclusion objectives become more than just policies and actually improve our working environments and career opportunities – but it’s a collective effort that we all need to drive.

There are things you can do too. Check out the staff networks that you can join in your company and in your industry, and if you haven’t found the kind of group you’re looking for, consider starting one. What are you passionate about? What changes would you like to see in your industry? Be curious, ask questions, read, listen, ask more questions, and engage with all the amazing material and individuals out there raising awareness on so many important issues. Find your cause!

  • Thevani Ravindran is an assistant engineer at Atkins


Department of Civil Engineering