23/02/2018 – Press for Progress, Women in Construction

 

By Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

Now, more than ever, there’s a strong call-to-action to press forward and ensure women are better represented in the industry.

Construction News is campaigning for women to seek and be given the chance to obtain leadership roles in this industry, with the launch of the Inspire Me campaign. The campaign follows the Women’s Business Council’s aims:

  • Accelerate the pace of change
  • Increase and support the executive pipeline
  • Enable women to be able to make informed choices
  • Harness the experience and talent of women
  • Promote equality

For me, the campaign couldn’t have come at a better time. There is a clear move towards embracing inclusion and demolishing stereotypes. The industry needs people from different personal and professional backgrounds, bringing new and innovative ideas.  With the skills shortage at a high, we’re in no position to be looking at anything other than level of skill and potential when recruiting workers.

Here at CENE, we’re holding an event on International Women’s Day, Press for Progress, which will look at three key issues that need to be addressed to enable the construction industry to move towards a higher representation of women;

Recruitment – How can we ensure that recruitment practices are fair and that all applicants have equal access to opportunities and are treated equally during the recruitment process?

Retention – The numbers of women joining the industry has increased over the last 10+ years, however the percentage of women employed overall in the sector has remained stagnant at around 12-14%. How can we retain a diverse workforce?

Progression – All employees should have equal opportunity to progress within the industry in accordance with their ability and desire. How can this be achieved?

At the event we will hear from Sarah Kellerman, Kellerman Consultants, the first female ICE NE Chair, who will speak about her 30-year career and how the industry really does have to “up its game” and commit to the integration of women. Hays Recruitment will present Hays Diversity and Inclusion – 2018 Report and we will hear case studies from organisations committing to change their working practices and culture to encourage inclusion.

While a lot of work has already been done, and attitudes have shifted, there’s still room for improvement. In our region I’ve found that attitudes towards women in construction are more positive than ever, which is why the low statistics (14% of construction professionals and 2% of construction apprentices are women) still shock me. Clearly, there’s a lot of work required to encourage women to consider construction as a career, but we must also address our own working practices and those of our companies, to ensure women and people from under-represented groups can flourish. Inclusive working environments bring a wealth of benefits to everyone, including our predominantly white, male workforce. We all want to work somewhere where we feel comfortable, safe and valued, so let’s work together to create these places.

The Press for Progress event is on Thursday 8 March at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Newcastle. To register for this event, please contact Amy at amy@cene.org.uk or call 0191 500 7880.