Promoting gender balance across the Defence sector

17 March 2021
Image of a woman looking at the camera.

In 2020, Amey partnered with Women in Defence UK and became part of a thriving community of individuals and organisations dedicated to improving gender balance, equality and diversity across the Defence sector. 

A real benefit of the partnership has been our involvement in a nine-month, cross-sector mentoring programme, where eight of Amey’s high achieving women were carefully matched with mentors from across the sector, and eight Amey employees (male and female) were selected to mentor eight women in other areas of the Defence business, including the Armed Forces and MOD Civil Service. 

With the programme due to end in May this year, we caught up with one of our mentees, Cat Wright, our HR Advisor, and asked for her thoughts on the programme so far. Cat is a young woman, with only three years’ HR experience in the Defence sector. She admits that sometimes it can be daunting working in a male-dominated environment with older and more experienced colleagues. One of Cat’s aims, alongside achieving her career aspirations, is to improve her confidence, leadership and communication skills. 

Being selected as a mentee in the programme is proving to be a really positive experience for me. My long-term plan has always been to progress into more senior HR roles and having a mentor who is helping me on that journey by sharing their own experiences and guiding me through both personal and workplace challenges is hugely beneficial. For me, development is not just about improving my HR experience, it’s about learning vital business skills and communication techniques, improving my confidence and gaining more operational knowledge to help me in my role.” 

Cat has been carefully matched with Brigadier Richard Bell, Deputy Commander (Strategy) Operation Inherent Resolve (Designate), who is helping her with management and leadership skills, self-reflection and ‘how to get ahead’. They speak every month and between them have created a log detailing Cat’s aspiration for the future, her strengths and weaknesses and areas for development. 

Brigadier Richard Bell has been hugely impressed by Cat’s commitment to the programme, particularly her involvement in a series of group discussions, lectures, presentations and 1-1 coaching, all carried out in her own time. Richard said: 

“I have been hugely impressed by Cat. She has demonstrated real commitment, intelligence and a self-reflective leadership style, coupled with a desire to improve, which belies her experience. She has presented with a real depth of professional knowledge and an example of the quality that is out there. She has also been a superb ambassador for Amey, often utilising positive examples within your company for the MOD to learn from. I will freely admit I have tested her and she has not been found wanting. She is a real talent for the future, and I strongly commend her efforts. 

Cat added “This programme has been great for my confidence and for gaining another perspective. It has also provided me with access to specific resources that target some of my development areas. With Richard’s guidance I am able to make better and more informed career choices – I hope to stay in the HR profession and still be in the Defence world, building upon the experience I have gained and seeking new opportunities for growth. I hope , one day, to be able to help colleagues who are in a position such as my own.”