International Women’s Day – Inspiring Inclusion at Merit

Here at Merit, we’re celebrating International Women’s Day by shining a spotlight on some of the incredible women who work across the business. Ensuring inclusion and enhancing diversity amongst the team is central to Merit’s company ethos.

The theme of IWD 2024 is ‘Inspire Inclusion’; when we inspire others to understand and value women’s inclusion, we can forge a better world. At Merit, we recognise that fostering an environment inclusive of all genders and backgrounds not only aligns with ethical standards but equips us to deliver groundbreaking construction and innovation that better serves and meets the needs of our customers.

Commenting on IWD 2024, Kirsty Wells, Chair at Merit said: “Embracing diversity and ensuring equal opportunity unlocks great potential for a more innovative and thriving workforce.

“Many construction firms have massively benefitted from the growing number of women who work across the sector and continue to prove that there are jobs for everyone, regardless of their gender.”

Whilst women make up half of the UK’s working population, it’s unsettling to hear that they make up a mere 13% of the construction sector’s workforce, with just 1% of them working on site and only 16% hold senior positions.

Addressing these imbalances is particularly important within the construction industry, as it is one of the largest contributors to the UK economy; 3.1 million people are currently employed within the sector². It’s vital to address these concerns, now more so than ever before.

The benefits of diversity and inclusion in the workforce are ample; it can fuel innovation, increase productivity, encourage new ideas and ways of thinking, resulting in a more prosperous business.

Gender diversity also contributes to better decision-making processes by incorporating a broader spectrum of viewpoints, new ideas and leadership styles. 26% of Merit’s team are females; a refreshing statistic compared to the industry wide standard of 13%. This is inclusive of 30 women working across disciplines including Design, BIM Authors, Mechanical & Electrical Model Engineers, Automation Developers, and Procurement Interface Specialists.

We sat down with Flavia Del-Vecchio and Louise Walker to discuss their roles and what international women’s day means to them:

Flavia Del-Vecchio, QA Engineer at Merit:
Why did you choose your profession as a career?
The competition in Brazil to get into a good public school is incredibly high and that was my goal before going to university, so I applied to the course with less competition, which was Mechatronic course in the night shift. Few months later, I realised my colleagues had much more knowledge than me in the technical subjects such as AutoCad and Metrology. I didn’t want to be left behind, so I attended another college in the morning shift which was a metal sheet fabrication one, more focused into machining processes, how to operate a lathe machine, milling machine or programming a CNC machine. Between all the disciplines I learned in both courses, metrology was the one that stuck to me the most.

I loved learning how to use measuring equipment, how to calibrate, standardising measuring processes and inspection reports – this passion for following processes and continuous improvement is what led me to graduate as a production engineer and focus on Quality as my career path.

What is it like being you and doing your job?
I am energised and excited to come to work, to tackle my daily activities, bring new ideas, find solutions and interact with people.

I was away from my professional career for a couple of years when I didn’t have a visa to work in Europe and it was detrimental to my mental health and self-steam. So, I feel extremely content and fulfilled to be able to do something now that I am passionate about.

What single piece of advice would you give to someone looking to start in your profession?
Seek experience in different types of industry which will give you a wider overview of processes and departmental interactions.

What does international women’s day mean to you?
For me it is a reminder that there are no boundaries for bravery or space for fear. Gender should not define who you are or set up limits of what you can or cannot do, who you want to be or what you want to achieve. Everyone should live a life worth living and whatever comes to it, you should not be dictated by gender.

Louise Walker, Health & Safety Advisor at Merit:
Why did you choose your profession as a career?
I chose this profession as a career as it’s rewarding. Helping to ensure the workforce goes home safe to their families everyday, it has the potential to save lives.

What is it like being you and doing your job?
I enjoy working in a fast-paced, diverse environment, overcoming challenges and problem solving. I like helping others and I take pride in protecting both my colleagues and Merit, helping to reduce accidents and keep people safe. Being driven, and continuous learning is required for my role to ensure my knowledge and skills are up to date.

What single piece of advice would you give to someone looking to start in your profession?
My advice would be for someone looking at this profession is to have the ability to communicate well. Showing empathy and to trust your intuition. Taking into consideration the needs of a diverse workforce.

What does international women’s day mean to you?
International Women’s Day promotes awareness about equality within the workplace. It’s an opportunity to celebrate strength and resilience for women around the world.

Merit envisions an industry where inclusion, equality and diversity are ingrained, reflecting societal values. This journey transcends our company, reaching into the broader industry and society itself. A dynamic push is essential to make the construction sector accessible and to shape a skilled workforce poised to deliver the exciting infrastructure projects of the future.