Karen Blanc is the VP of Inclusion, Belonging and People Development at Kent, an engineering and project management business in the energy industry. Here, Karen shares her thoughts about how to fix the workplace, not the workforce.

I was an engineer in oil and gas for 20 years. I’ve now entered the world of people & culture, as global head of inclusion, belonging and people development for an oil & energy projects business. I find this gives me a pretty unique perspective on what technical women want in their careers. I was one, and I now serve many. Maybe it’s because I’m an engineer, maybe it’s because I’m an enneagram type 7, but my brain bursts with ideas all the time. Honestly, I drive the organised around me pretty crazy. It makes me a huge fan of a list, so without further ado, here’s my list of what (technical) women want.

A quick disclaimer before we start. Of course I don’t speak for all women, we’re not a homogenous group. This article is a bit of fun, with some educated opinions and actual facts thrown in.

Fair pay. That’s it, that’s the list. (Kidding. It would be a boring list if I stopped there.) But seriously. Maybe we’re great at negotiating, maybe we’re not taken seriously enough when we do it. Remove the barrier and make it unnecessary, and don’t reward noisy voices any more than those who just get on with doing a great job.

Clothes. Which fit us. They make PPE in all shapes and sizes now, please don’t give us a men’s small and tell us to get on with it. Safety clothing needs to be designed for the body it protects, and our bodies are different. Find PPE providers who’ve done the work, and stock up.

Travel. Please don’t assume that we want or need to be close to home. Maybe we do. But don’t assume, and let us decide ourselves. If we have small kids there are many reasons why we might quite enjoy a little trip to site!

Modern rules for modern work. The workplace was built for a group of people who mostly didn’t have to worry about running their families and lives outside of work. Most families are now dual-earning, and dual-caring, so the rules of work need to keep up.

Not to be obliged to fix things. We’re here because we wanted to make the world a better place. That doesn’t include teaching you not to be sexist. (Though, please don’t be.) Do not even get us started on office housework….

Peers. We’re not going to be best friends just because we’re both women. But it would be nice to see that it’s not so terrible to work here as a woman!

Equal caring access (and expectations) for men. Yes, you heard us, we want something for men. We’re smart women, and getting ourselves out of the pickle where we’re ALWAYS the assumed head and chief caring officer of a (straight-coupled) household means removing barriers for men to be equally involved in running the space they call home.

Fair and transparent processes. It’s not just us who want this, almost all humans would benefit from this. (Except those who got into role because their boss “reminded them of themselves”. Enough said.) Advertise all roles, don’t rely on your unconsciously biased views of who’d be good for it or up for it, and clearly share and remove any mystery around your process for promotions and opportunities.

Updated language. PLEASE stop saying manhours. It’s 2023. Man doesn’t mean human, and yes, it actually does bother us. If you think there are bigger things for us to worry about then you’re in agreement with us that this is small. So, let’s fix it! While we’re on this…. Oh my goodness please don’t call us females. We’re not lions. If you need some quick gender identity catching up, please go and study the genderbread person. It’s for kids, so I imagine we can all get on top of this pretty quickly.

Leadership development. But just the same one as everyone else is doing please, no more special lady training. It’s not us who need fixed, I think by this point in my list you know who to redirect those development dollars towards…. Thank you!

At Kent we’re fixing the workplace not our people.