Founded in 1986, CML is a principal contractor to Network Rail, operating throughout England and Wales. The firm delivers multidisciplinary building and civils projects, with expertise in the reconstruction and refurbishment of buildings, structures, and earthworks. With an excellent track record, CML takes great pride in its work as well as its commitment to equal opportunities.
“I’ve worked in the Rail industry since 2003, moving to CML in 2018,” says Amanda Higgins, a works delivery manager at CML. “It’s a very male-dominated sector and there’s a lot of stereotyping and gender discrimination. Traditionally, you have to shout loudly to make your voice heard, though that’s not the case here.”
Just one example of the everyday discrimination faced by women is the fact properly fitted PPE – one of the many luxuries that male colleagues take for granted – has only recently been introduced to the industry, but CML now has its female staff fully kitted out.
“The sleeves were the problem!” says Natasha Steele, also a works delivery manager. “I’m quite small, so putting on any PPE used to feel like I was wearing my dad’s clothes. Thankfully, we now have proper PPE that fits, so we’re comfortable and safe.”
Against this background of historical discrimination, CML strives to foster a progressive work environment that provides opportunities, flexibility, and care for all of its employees, and is conscious of the difficulties women can face in the workplace.
“The company has great fairness, inclusion, and respect policies as well, and treats everybody fairly,” says Natasha. “CML concentrates on ability regardless of gender, regardless of race, and will help you develop that ability, as much as you are willing to do so. Women in Rail is also a big thing at CML and they really push membership”.
The firm also emphasises a good work / life balance, offering hybrid working for those who want it. “As long as the work is done you can leave early or you can work over to make up the time,” says Natasha, “and it’s not just aimed at women – it’s there for everyone to use. We have a few single dads here who also have to juggle their workload around caring for children.”
“We’re encouraged to take our annual leave too,” says Amanda, “especially if we have days remaining coming to the end of the year. It can be a stressful job, so breaks are really important.”
Mental wellbeing is a major concern for employers in the rail industry, and failure to properly manage work-related stress can lead to ill-health and human error. CML is a partner with Mates in Mind, a leading UK charity raising awareness and addressing the stigma of poor mental health. Mates in Mind aims to provide clear information to employers about the available support and guidance on mental health and wellbeing, and how they can address this within their organisations.
“I’m one of the people delivering the training on that,” says Natasha, “making the on-site and office teams aware of what help is available, what to look out for, and who to speak to about mental health. We also have some mental health first aiders in the company.”
While the industry is slowly evolving and becoming less male-centric, there is still a long way to go. Career progression remains a concern for many women in the sector but CML aims to provide an environment where everyone can thrive. The firm wants its staff to have everything they need to succeed.
“Professional development at CML is really good,” says Amanda. “CML offers a lot of training, including NVQs in engineering and degrees, and we have regular performance reviews where we can discuss what training we feel we need.”
“The company is really good at helping you schedule that training as well. Obviously, COVID meant that a lot of us put training on hold but, now that we have the time, we can pick our training back up.”
Importantly, the company also provides great role models for its female staff, with women holding a number of key roles, providing the inspiration needed to bring down the glass ceiling.
“If you look at the structure of the company, two of the five board members are female,” Natasha says, “and there are quite a few women in management roles – including my boss, Amy. It’s becoming more and more commonplace to have women in management positions these days.
“I’m also in the process of becoming a STEM ambassador, to actively promote STEM industries and jobs to women. With engineering being seen as heavily male-dominated, one of the most important things is recruiting women who are qualified in STEM subjects.”
Equality, diversity, and inclusion is a crucial concern for modern companies and CML tackles the issue head-on. It challenges the way the engineering sector has operated in the past and continually questions its own operations to ensure its staff are represented and supported. Women looking to enter the engineering sector would be wise to consider CML, where they can progress and continue to break down barriers.
Image credit: CML