The importance of a diverse, supported and happy workforce

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

Constructing Excellence (CE) has teamed up with Balfour Beatty to create an initiative to get more women in construction to director level and beyond.

There is a clear move towards embracing inclusion and demolishing stereotypes within the industry at the minute. The industry needs people from different personal and professional backgrounds, bringing new and innovative ideas.  With the skills shortage at a high, we’ve realised we’re in no position to be looking at anything other than level of skill and potential when recruiting workers. There’s lots of focus on getting women into the industry and the number of women joining the industry has increased over the last 10 years, but it’s time to look at retention and progression and ensuring women have equal opportunity to progress within the industry in accordance with their ability and desire, basically to get to where they want to be. Why shouldn’t they?

The initiative, which will be led by CE will aim to create a blueprint for firms to help them retain women engineers into their 30s and 40s and support their return to work after career breaks. It’s not just a North East issue, it’s something that needs to be looked at across the whole industry, nationwide. We’re not looking at recruiting young or unemployed people, it’s time to target the people who are often overlooked, the 30 something female industry workers and turn them into directors, CEOs and leaders.

We need a talented workforce diverse in gender, age, race, values, experience etc. Diverse perspectives are how we supress tendencies and old-fashioned ways of thinking. It reduces the risk of groupthink and is how things move forward. Without diversity, we’d struggle with productivity, especially with how fast things are moving with technology at the minute. We desperately need new ideas and different ways of doing things whether that be construction methods, materials or management styles.

It’s common sense that people work better when they’re happy, and inclusive working environments bring a wealth of benefits to everyone. By creating a positive, safe and healthy workplace, you’ll see a boost in morale, improve your employees’ work-life balance, increase employee engagement and, in turn, positively impact your business. In any industry, the desire is to have a healthy, productive workforce and construction is no different. We all want to work somewhere where we feel comfortable, safe and valued, and when we do, that’s where we’ll thrive.

On Wednesday (3 October), we’re delighted to be hosting the 2018 North East Construction Summit – Driving the Need for Change which will focus on increasing productivity and addressing contributing factors. The importance of an industry culture change resulting in a happier, more diverse workforce will therefore feature strongly.

For more information on the event please contact Leanne Conaway, on 0191 500 7880 or email leanne@cene.org.uk.