How women at Thomson bring balance to their industry

We’ve got something to celebrate at Thomson this International Women’s Day. In fact, we’ve got quite a few things. We’re proud to say we have balance in our workforce. So, what does this look like?

Since the first submission of UK gender pay gap figures back in April 2017, when 10,000 companies filed their data, the Government and its Office for National Statistics (ONS) have reported that 78% of firms are paying women less than men, with an average pay discrepancy of 15% (source: Environment Analyst).

Graph Figure 1: Mean gender pay gap for the UKs top 10 environmental consultancies and the Environment Agency © Environment Analyst
Figure 1. Mean gender pay gap for the UKs top 10 environmental consultancies and the Environment Agency © Environment Analyst

Analysis by Environment Analyst has revealed that women held just 38% of top paid positions, compared with just over half of the lowest paid posts. This is even more evident in the professional, scientific and technical activities sector, where 97.5% of firms reported paying men more than women, with a mean pay gap of 18% (source: Environment Analyst).

At the leading environmental consulting employers, the mean gender pay gap was higher still at 26%, with the proportion of women occupying top-paying roles at just 14% compared to 42% in the lowest paid (source: Environment Analyst).

Graph: Percentage of women in upper and lower quartile positions across the UKs top ten consultancies and the Environment Agency © Environment Analyst
Figure 2. Percentage of women in upper and lower quartile positions across the UK’s top 10 consultancies and the Environment Agency © Environment Analyst

It’s fair to say that the industry has some catching up to do. However, there are some companies that buck the trend when it comes to gender equality and the gender pay gap – and Thomson is one of them.

Founded in 2004 by its female CEO, Nancy Thomson, the company offers various benefits for all employees, regardless of gender. Flexible working is common among environmentalists, as hours for seasonal fieldwork vary, but this flexible working extends to other staff to support childcare and promote work-life balance.

Talking recently about gender equality and International Women’s Day, Nancy commented:

“Across Thomson we have a roughly 50:50 split between men and women with gender never being an issue when we recruit new team members. Everybody is treated equally.”

In fact, 51% of employees at Thomson are female. This is the case for the majority of specialist teams across the business. To canvas opinions on the topics of gender equality and the gender pay gap, we asked five female staff about their roles, their views and what it’s like to be a woman working at Thomson.

Hannah Roughley, Site Operative and power-lifter

Hannah Roughley, Site Operative © Thomsonec
Hannah Roughley, Site Operative © Thomsonec

“Thomson has a great working environment with supportive staff who nurture your strengths and provide training opportunities. I’ve been on site just two weeks and I’m really impressed by the professionalism and integrity of the staff.

I’m treated fairly and am confident to express myself and any concerns I have.”

Dr Ruth Barnich, Principle Marine Taxonomist

Dr Ruth Barnich, Principle Marine Taxonomist © Thomsonec
Dr Ruth Barnich, Principle Marine Taxonomist © Thomsonec

“When I first saw marine animals from a plankton sample under the microscope, I was fascinated by the number of different species and their various shapes. This was the moment that triggered my decision to become a taxonomist – a specialist in classification of species.

Since then I have described over 20 new species and there are many more waiting to be published on my desk. I was chosen for this job, not because I am a woman, but because of my skills and achievements.”

Tessa Harding, Director Aquatic Ecology and school science volunteer

Director of Aquatic Ecology at Thomson, Tessa Harding © Duncan Mizen / Thomsonec
Director of Aquatic Ecology at Thomson, Tessa Harding © Duncan Mizen / Thomsonec

“I’ve been lucky enough never to have encountered gender inequality in any of my roles although, coming from a background in engineering consultancy, the balance of men to women used to be very unequal. I’ve been pleased to find that this isn’t the case at Thomson which has a pretty even gender balance.

In planning the resourcing on our projects, we select people on technical merit and make no distinction between gender.

I strongly believe that ecology should have a higher profile on the national curriculum. On my non-working day, I volunteer in the science department of my local secondary school.

As a volunteer, I’m developing a range of ecological activities which will contribute to a school Science Technology Engineering Maths (STEM) program and supporting the implementation of an environmental management system.”

Rachel Young, Assistant Ecologist and scuba diver

Rachel Young, Assistant Ecologist and scuba diver © Thomsonec
Rachel Young, Assistant Ecologist and scuba diver © Thomsonec

“The fact I have never had reason to think my gender has influenced my work life reflects that Thomson is a good place to work. There is a good balance between women and men across all departments and levels and women occupying senior level positions provide great role models. The emphasis on respect and support within the company means their advice is never more than an email or call away.

In my experience, whenever opportunities have arisen – for jobs, or training courses with limited spaces – the process of selection has been fair. Decisions are made objectively on your business case and personal statements.”

Claire Pickering, Finance Director

Claire Pickering, Finance Director © Duncan Mizen / Thomsonec
Claire Pickering, Finance Director © Duncan Mizen / Thomsonec

“I lead the Finance, IT, H&S and HR teams and so my role varies daily. Having a female CEO makes a difference, as she knows that busy people always get the job done and allows for a healthy work-life balance.”

Come and join us

If you’re seeking a career in environmental consulting and would like to work for Thomson, why not check out our careers page for the latest jobs we’re recruiting for.