Can We Look Beyond 50/50 to Create a Balanced Workforce?

With WSP since 2010, Tim Parker, our Director of Sustainability values authenticity and honesty in leadership as well as a gender-balanced workplace.

Starting his career as a cadet mechanical engineer in a Building Services consultancy, Tim worked at an energy consultancy out of university where he began his journey in sustainability.


He says, “Sustainability means different things to different people. There are so many ways that we can assist our clients to achieve their desired outcomes – whether it is by reducing environmental impacts, improving social outcomes or making their businesses more economically-viable."


Leading a team of more than 60 sustainability professionals, Tim is firmly focused on solving his clients’ challenges and helping them be successful. He says, “I thrive on working with a diverse range people with different experiences, thoughts and approaches to problem-solving. What’s more, we can draw on information from 5,400 people in ANZ and more than 48,000 around the globe to – that in itself brings great diversity of thought."


Tim believes authenticity and honesty are two of the most important characteristics a leader can possess. He says, “This is equally important when communicating with team members as well as when dealing with your own manager. A leader needs to follow through with commitments and tell it like it is. If things aren’t going well, this needs to be shared so the wider group can help make the required changes. When things are going well, success also needs to be shared as no doubt it is due to the hard work of many people rather than just one."


Tim’s goals are to broaden our sustainability offering to meet our clients’ needs around health and wellbeing, climate change resilience and moving toward net zero emissions. “We will achieve this by finding the best talent in the market as well as keeping my people engaged, nurtured and developed professionally,” says Tim.


On the Topic of Gender Balance

“I draw great inspiration from my wife Jen who has worked for a number of female CEOs,” explains Tim. “She is constantly working on gender balance and helping females take on leadership positions. She has made me see that discrimination still exists and that not all workplaces are as balanced as my team – we have a 50/50 ratio.


“Jen is a great sounding board on a wide range of day to day aspects of management. Gender balance to me means ensuring that we have a range of males and females across all teams and at levels in the organisation. We are rarely going to get a ratio of 50/50 in technical disciplines, so balance is about having a reasonable number of each gender so that one does not feel outnumbered. This includes ensuring that a dominant gender in one part of the organisation is not balanced out by another team having a majority of the other gender.”


With more acceptance of flexible working conditions and parental leaves being used, Tim is hopeful that we can overcome the perceived barriers to progressing or staying in the technical side of engineering after career breaks or extended part-time work. He says, “I hope this changes as I have a teenage daughter who is interested in STEM."


Life Outside of Work

To maintain a good balance between work and life, Tim works flexibly a few days a week to participate in the lives of his three school-aged children. He says, “I like to be involved – whether it’s having breakfast with them, attending parent-teacher interviews or just being there when they get home. I balance this with some longer days and evenings doing emails."


In his downtime, Tim likes to exercise. He says, “I run and play golf. And, I like to watch sports – almost any sport. I love the spectacle, the competition and the strategy.”


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