Considerate Constructors Scheme
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women in construction

Spotlight on… women in construction aims to demonstrate why the construction industry should be addressing the issue of attracting more women into the industry...

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The campaign

In 2016, the number of women directly employed in construction hit a 20-year high. But despite comprising over 50% of the UK population, women still make up only 11% of the construction workforce; this number drops to just 1% of operatives on site. At less than 10% of engineering professionals, the UK has the lowest proportion of female engineers in Europe. With the industry facing a skills shortage, it has never been more important to draw from a wider pool of talent.

This campaign seeks to increase understanding of the issue of women in construction, highlight the great work done so far to promote diversity, showcase female role models and offer guidance on how to further encourage women into the industry.

 

Why are there so few women in construction?

Lingering sexist attitudes in the workplace are off-putting for many women. A July 2017 survey by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) found that nearly one third of women in construction said a fear of sexism held them back from pursuing senior roles. A January 2017 survey reported in Building.co.uk found that a shocking 73% of female engineers have experienced sexual discrimination, harassment or victimisation at work. Casual sexism, such as patronising and belittling attitudes, is also damaging and can result in women feeling unwelcome.

Other reasons for female under-representation in the industry relate to working conditions. While there have been vast improvements in recent years, particularly in on-site facilities, some sites still do not provide separate and equal welfare facilities. Inflexible working hours can deter women who have family commitments, contributing to the ‘leaky pipeline’ which sees women not return to the industry after having children.

The gender pay gap is an issue that must be addressed in every industry but it is particularly acute in construction. The Office of National Statistics reports that the national pay gap is 18.1%, but also found that male construction and building trades supervisors are paid 45% more than their female counterparts – this is the largest pay gap in the UK.

While there is certainly still room for improvement in the industry’s approach to diversity, it can sometimes be more an issue of image and perception which puts women off construction careers. People often perceive the industry as an all-male environment where the only jobs available involve manual labour.

A survey by housebuilder Redrow asked young people about the careers advice they received at school – just 29% of women had been given advice on construction careers compared to 40% of men. This leads to a lack of knowledge among young people about the variety of roles in the industry, encouraging the assumption that construction is a world of male builders and discouraging them from joining the industry.

 

Why does it matter?

Recruiting more women into the construction industry should not be just a tick-box exercise – it is essential to the long-term viability of the UK construction industry, especially given that the industry accounts for 6.5% of total economic output (House of Commons – Construction industry briefing paper, 2015).

The industry needs 35,000 new workers a year to tackle the skills shortage and this will not be filled by ignoring the talents of half of the population. Diversity is also an economic generator, driving innovation through collaboration and creative thinking.

 

What is the Scheme doing to encourage women into construction?

The Considerate Constructors Scheme has been leading the effort to improve the image of construction and make the industry accessible to all. In the Checklist used by Scheme Monitors to score registered sites during their visits, Question 5.1 asks ‘Does the site demonstrate a commitment to respect, fair treatment, encouragement and support?’ while question 5.8 asks ‘How is the site providing for the needs of a diverse workforce?’ These questions address issues such as inclusion, harassment, open door policies and separate welfare facilities.

The Scheme is making a big impact in promoting construction careers to young men and women through our industry mascot Honor Goodsite. Honor is a structural engineer and can be used by contractors, sub-contractors and suppliers to showcase the great career opportunities open to women in construction. Honor appeals to primary school children, tackling perceptions about construction at an early age.

 

Scheme survey results

In order to understand how these issues affect the industry, the Scheme issued an anonymous survey to all registered sites, companies and suppliers. Over 1000 men and women responded, and the following results were gathered:

  • 94% said the industry would benefit from employing more women.
  • 79% said the industry has improved its approach to encouraging women into construction.
  • 76% said there are no construction jobs which only men can do.
  • 74% said there should not be quotas for hiring women into construction
  • 52% have witnessed or experienced sexism within the construction industry
  • When asked the most important reason women do not choose to work in construction, 22% said working conditions, 22% said lack of female role models and 20% said negative image of the industry.

The Scheme followed the survey with this ‘Spotlight on…’ campaign to provide information on the issue of women in construction.

Considerate Constructors Scheme Chief Executive Edward Hardy said:

“On behalf of the Scheme, I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to the ‘Spotlight on…women in construction’ campaign. The Campaign provides a must-read set of resources for organisations and individuals who would like to improve their standards of considerate construction – with the aim of driving greater equality, diversity and inclusion throughout our industry.

“Not only is it imperative that standards must be raised in this area in order to help encourage more people into the industry, a more equal and diverse workforce also brings greater collaboration, creative thinking and more inclusive workplaces – which can only be a positive step in helping to improve the image of the UK and Irish construction industry.

“The Scheme continues to push construction sites to ensure that the reality of being on site is one which is welcoming and suitably-equipped with the necessary facilities for all. It is only through these practical steps that the construction industry can achieve true equality, diversity and inclusivity.”

While women are still under-represented in construction, the industry is making considerable progress in addressing diversity. The following sections highlight the steps taken by construction organisations and the Government, and showcase case studies of successful women across the industry. However, there is more to be done to improve gender diversity in construction and the conclusion offers advice on how to address these issues.

 

 

Law and legislation

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Law and legislation

The following law and legislation is relevant to helping address the obstacles faced by women in the workplace...

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External resources

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External resources

Gender diversity is a huge issue in the construction industry today. There are numerous organisations and initiatives committed to encouraging women into the construction industry...

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Examples of best practice

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Examples of best practice

The Scheme aims to improve the image of construction through sharing best practice with the industry. Below are a number of best practice examples that have been witnessed by the Scheme’s Monitors on their visits or submitted directly by registered sites, companies and suppliers…

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Case studies

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Case studies

The Scheme has reached out to women throughout the industry to hear their experiences of working in construction...

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What can you do?

As we have seen, the construction industry is making important strides in addressing the gender imbalance. Diversity is increasingly embedded in company policy and the number of women working in construction is increasing.

Recruitment agency Randstad report that in 2005, 79% of female construction workers said their company was doing little to attract female workers; by 2015, this was down to 29%. Indeed, 79% of respondents to the Scheme survey agreed that in recent years the industry has improved its approach to encouraging women into construction.

“My experience is very positive and I have found most on site to be supportive and helpful … A career in construction is hugely rewarding, I am proud to be here.”

“In the 15 years I have worked in the industry there has been a positive increase in the number of female trainees, construction managers and engineers.”

“I experience no difference in pay or opportunity and no mistreatment at work because of my gender and believe the industry has come a long way from more traditional views.”

– Anonymous responses to the Scheme survey

However, the effort to achieve gender equality in construction is far from over. The industry is making progress on the issue but women still comprise only 11% of the construction workforce. The imbalance needs to be corrected due to the skills shortage, so what more can the industry do to contribute to this effort?

 

Embedding equality and diversity in recruitment

“I work for a small construction company, who have an older and more traditional outlook. We have no women employed to work on site and although it is never mentioned, I don’t think that a woman would be considered for such a role.”

– Anonymous response to the Scheme survey

Embedding equality and diversity in recruitment will help increase the number of women working in construction and make the industry more inclusive. Organisations should consider the following points to address gender inequality in their workforce:

  • Companies should have an Equality and Diversity policy which ensures the requirements of the Equality Act are implemented. This will involve providing equal and transparent recruitment, training and promotion prospects for men and women.
  • Employers should be aware of how hiring policies can create barriers for women through unconscious bias, for example informal word of mouth recruitment/promotion and using traditionally masculine words like ‘strong’ in job descriptions.
  • Encouraging returnships for older workers will address the ‘leaky pipeline’ which sees construction lose talented women who do not return to the industry after a career break.
  • The issue should not sit in Human Resources but be closely monitored and incorporated into the business plan through Key Performance Indicators making diversity a top priority.

 

Improving the image of the industry

“The first thought people have about the construction industry is instantly of cold, wet working conditions and an unpleasant working environment, which is not the case.”

– Anonymous response to the Scheme survey

To attract both women and men to construction careers requires changing perceptions to show that construction is a professional industry with a wide range of interesting and lucrative jobs available. When conducting recruitment drives and youth outreach the following points should be emphasised:

  • Most people associate construction work with hard manual labour. It should be advertised that, especially with the rise of technology such as Building Information Modelling, construction is about project management, leadership, creativity, organisation, communication and teamwork. Resources such as WISE’s ‘People like Me’ pack can assist contractors in highlighting this to young people.
  • The industry must showcase that construction can be a highly paid, highly skilled industry to work in. Careers in Construction records the average Site Manager salary as £60,000 in London, £50,000 in the South East and £37,000 nationally.

 

Encouraging a change in culture

“I’ve become really demoralised over the past year because I still face sexism in the workplace all the time. It’s draining me.”

– Anonymous response to the Scheme survey

While the situation has improved for many women in construction, there are some construction sites in the UK which continue to be hostile to female workers and members of the public. As long as this remains the case, many women will be discouraged from joining the industry. There are steps that sites can take to tackle sexism and encourage a more inclusive workplace culture:

  • All sites must have a zero tolerance policy on sexism and harassment and have an open door policy to encourage all workers to report inappropriate behaviour. Some sites have introduced telephone hotlines for workers to report bullying and harassment.
  • Site induction and toolbox talks should cover equality, diversity and inclusion to ensure all workers are treated with fairness, inclusion and respect. The Supply Chain Sustainability School provides free training videos on these subjects; see the ‘External resources’ section for details.
  • Companies could work with women’s organisations to organise training for their workforce in recognising and eliminating casual sexism and unconscious bias.
  • Establishing company support networks for women to share their experiences will help to break the isolation that many women in construction face.

 

Improving working conditions

“I was given no flexibility when I was pregnant and was told “you chose to do a man’s job so you have to get on with it”.”

– Anonymous response to the Scheme survey

The working conditions in construction have improved dramatically in recent years, but there are further ways to promote equality through fairer working conditions and modern facilities. Measures that sites could consider include:

  • Ensuring that all sites have separate and equal welfare facilities for men and women.
  • Providing appropriate PPE for women, securing their safety and comfort on site.
  • Monitoring and working to close the gender pay gap to ensure men and women receive equal pay for equal work.
  • Introducing flexible working hours to accommodate those with family commitments. Flexibility benefits working fathers, older workers and those with disabilities, helping to increase diversity across the board.

 

Promoting female role models

“As women, in our lives we do not see women in high places as much as you do men. This is very disheartening.”

– Anonymous response to the Scheme survey

Women currently working in construction should openly discuss their careers with children and adults to change perceptions of the industry and break down stereotypes. The following points will help organisations effectively promote female role models:

  • Successful women in the industry should be identified in promotional literature and encouraged to speak in schools and colleges to show the future generation that the industry is diverse and inclusive.
  • Rewarding female role models, for example through the annual Women in Construction awards, helps raise the profile of leading women in the industry and shows that women do excel by having a career within construction.
  • More women in senior leadership positions within construction companies and other organisations will help to inspire women already in the industry to aim high and seek promotion.

 

Working with schools and colleges

“I do a number of school visits at primary age and am often told that I cannot be a builder as I am a girl. At college, young adults do not even consider a career in construction because they are unaware of all the roles that are available.”

– Anonymous response to the Scheme survey

Many preconceptions about construction are formed at a very early age. Contractors are already doing great work through school outreach programmes, but this could be translated into more formal links between the industry and schools and colleges. The following factors should be considered when working with schools and colleges:

  • Careers advisers, teachers and parents need to be given a better insight into the industry to enable them to pass on accurate and useful advice to young people considering a career in construction. This will ensure construction is portrayed positively and not as a ‘last resort’ for non-academic students or a profession only suited to men.
  • Work experience, taster days and site visits will help challenge preconceptions about construction by showing young people that the industry is an exciting and interesting place to work.
  • Apprenticeships are vital ways of providing young people interested in construction with opportunities to develop their skills. The industry should work with schools and colleges to identify students who could benefit from such training.
  • When appealing to a younger audience, contractors, sub-contractors and suppliers could use the Scheme’s Honor Goodsite character as an example of a female engineer to show that women can have rewarding careers in construction.

 

The industry is making great progress in encouraging more women to pursue construction careers, but more can be done to increase gender diversity. By continuing to work together to tackle perceptions and change industry practices, construction will become a truly inclusive industry.

 

As well as the information above, it is also advised to use the resources provided in the ‘External resources’ section of this campaign which identifies information from other organisations and companies.

 

The Scheme will continue to update this page as new case studies and examples of how the industry is tackling this issue are identified. If you would like to share how your organisation helps to encourage more women to consider a career in construction, please contact the Scheme by emailing enquiries@ccsbestpractice.org.uk.

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More on... Spotlight on… women in construction

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Examples of best practice

The Scheme aims to improve the image of construction through sharing best practice with the industry. Below are a number of best practice examples that have been witnessed by the Scheme’s Monitors on their visits or submitted directly by registered sites, companies and suppliers…

 

A mechanical and engineering taster day exclusively for young women at Mace

Published 18 September 2017 | No comments
Written by Laura Hampson
Categories Apprenticeships Diversity Inclusion
CategoriesApprenticeships Diversity Inclusion

Mace has found a lack of women applying to their apprenticeship programmes in the mechanical and electrical engineering (MEP) sector. To address this, Mace’s MEP directors have worked alongside the community engagement and emerging talent teams to explore the causes and solutions to the issue. A trend noticed by community engagement managers at Mace is that young women who enter…

Promoting women in construction

Published 18 September 2017 | No comments
Written by Gareth Drake
Categories Diversity Equality Inclusion
CategoriesDiversity Equality Inclusion

As part of our commitment to promoting women in construction, the Interserve site team at our flagship £25M Leisure Centre project in Eastleigh, Hampshire have hosted two Women in Property breakfast meetings which have included presentations about the design and construction challenges faced as well as a site tour for those attending. The project has a number of women working…

International Women in Engineering Day

Published 18 September 2017 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Diversity Equality Inclusion
CategoriesDiversity Equality Inclusion

International Women in Engineering Day is an annual event organised by the Women’s Engineering Society to promote career opportunities and celebrate successful female engineers. To celebrate this day on your site you could consider: Attending and/or presenting at a Women in Engineering event. Conducting a visit to a local school to promote engineering careers to young women and men. Encourage…

Female PPE Initiative

Published 29 August 2017 | No comments
Written by Steve Caucutt
Categories Diversity Equality Inclusion PPE
CategoriesDiversity Equality Inclusion PPE

Women who work for BAM Nuttall are being supplied with workwear designed specifically for them. After a series of trials on a number of its sites in London, Leeds, Newcastle and Scotland, the company is rolling out a range of work clothing nationwide that is specifically designed for women. Working with workwear manufacturer Arco, BAM Nuttall has commissioned polo shirts,…

Women In Construction at London City Island

Published 17 August 2017 | No comments
Written by London City Island
Categories Diversity Equality Harassment Inappropriate language Inclusion Management attitudes Open door policy Separate facilities
CategoriesDiversity Equality Harassment Inappropriate language Inclusion Management attitudes Open door policy Separate facilities

Reports reveal that women are expected to make up a quarter (26%) of the UK’s construction workforce by 2020. Although companies are doing more to encourage women to join the industry, 41% of women still believe men are paid more. Encouraging and retaining more women in construction is essential to filling the looming skills shortage. Ballymore is encouraging women to…

People Like Me resource for encouraging girls into construction

Published 24 July 2017 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Community liaison Create opportunities Diversity Equality Inclusion Schools
CategoriesCommunity liaison Create opportunities Diversity Equality Inclusion Schools

The WISE campaign seeks to achieve gender balance in STEM industries by conducting schools outreach, showcasing role models and providing consultancy and training. Drawing from research seeking to understand why certain groups are under-represented in STEM, WISE has launched its ‘People Like Me’ programme to show young girls that they could find fulfilling careers in STEM. Psychological research shows that girls…

STEM – Disaster relief in the UK

Published 11 July 2017 | No comments
Written by Andrew Sharp
Categories Community liaison Create opportunities Schools
CategoriesCommunity liaison Create opportunities Schools

As part of our STEM programme of Community work, and to celebrate Women in Engineering Day 2017, Sheffield Hallam University, A-one+ and the RAF hosted an activity day aimed at Year 9 and 10 girls from local schools. The focus of the day was on disaster relief in the UK and the engineering skills that are required immediately following a…

Inspiring women in our industry

Published 11 July 2017 | No comments
Written by Andrew Sharp
Categories Equality
CategoriesEquality

To celebrate International Women in Engineering Day, we developed a series of short bios of women in our business. Drawing from a broad cross section of disciplines and experience from within the project, our leadership team worked with women to capture and celebrate their own journey in engineering and construction. As well as capturing their stories, we encouraged our women…

Inspiring girls into construction

Published 26 June 2017 | No comments
Written by Claire Anderson
Categories Equality Schools
CategoriesEquality Schools

Pupils from four schools in East Renfrewshire recently attended an informative workshop hosted by BAM Construction. Held at Barrhead High School, a live construction site, the event was designed to inspire girls to consider construction as a career. Third to fifth year pupils were selected to take part from Williamwood High School, St Ninians, Woodfarm High School and St Luke’s…

Offering work placements for Women into Construction members

Published 4 April 2017 | No comments
Written by Wai-Keat Ngai
Categories Campaigns Equality
CategoriesCampaigns Equality

As part of a greater effort to introduce new talent into the industry, Crossrail Paddington offered short term work placements and CV Workshops to members of Women into Construction (WiC), giving them the opportunity to develop their skills and gain further project experience. Aliona supported the commercial team as an assistant to help produce subcontract agreement for various work packages;…

Encouraging more women into construction

Published 3 April 2017 | No comments
Written by Linda Faulkner
Categories Diversity Equality Schools
CategoriesDiversity Equality Schools

Women are increasingly being represented in the construction industry; it is no longer seen as a male-only profession. This was the message we gave to a group of 14 to 17 year old female students from St Anne’s Catholic High School in Enfield. The students told us they had an “eye-opening” visit to our Electric Quarter site in Ponders End where…

Supporting International Women’s Day

Published 20 March 2017 | No comments
Written by Kelly Regan-Mears
Categories Diversity Equality Management attitudes Training
CategoriesDiversity Equality Management attitudes Training

For International Women’s Day 2017, we asked our workforce to #BeBoldForChange. What advice would you offer our future generations of women? This year on International Women’s Day we invited everyone to answer that question. The response has been amazing. Throughout the day, we shared images of those joining the conversation on our Twitter feed. A presentation on how we, as…

Encouraging young women into the industry

Published 20 March 2017 | No comments
Written by David Shooter
Categories Legacy Schools
CategoriesLegacy Schools

We had a visit from ten Year 9 girls just about to make their GCSE choices. Two of these were Sheffield City Council ‘Construction Ambassadors’ this is part of Sheffield’s Made in Sheffield initiative encouraging girls into the industry. We had our HR manager come to site and do a careers talk with the girls before taking a tour of the…

Spotlight on… campaign posters

Published 17 March 2017 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Alcohol testing Campaigns Diversity Drugs and alcohol policy Illegal workers Mental health Occupational health risks Posters Scheme posters/banners Workforce information
CategoriesAlcohol testing Campaigns Diversity Drugs and alcohol policy Illegal workers Mental health Occupational health risks Posters Scheme posters/banners Workforce information

Spotlight on… posters have been designed for general display in and around site welfare facilities. The Scheme is currently developing a collection of A3 posters from the series of ‘Spotlight on… ‘ awareness campaigns. This resource has proven valuable for display on site and raising awareness amongst the workforce and visitors.  

International Women’s Day

Published 7 March 2017 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Diversity Equality Management attitudes
CategoriesDiversity Equality Management attitudes

International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. To support International Women’s Day on your site, you could do the following: Support and participate in ‘Women in Construction’ events; Pledge to #BeBoldForChange by clicking here; Have a robust equality and diversity policy ensuring men and women are treated equally; Visit the ‘International…

Getting the Girl Guides involved in construction

Published 25 October 2016 | No comments
Written by James Ford
Categories Charities/organisations Cooperation Goodwill Public Support Workforce
CategoriesCharities/organisations Cooperation Goodwill Public Support Workforce

The construction site was based in a remote area with no direct neighbours so we went out to the local Girl Guides group to try and get them involved in construction. They had the annual International Jamboree which they wanted to create an archway for their camp site which they requested we helped with. Using timber that was going spare…

Revealing careers in construction to young women – Mace’s Building Futures programme

Published 10 October 2016 | No comments
Written by Laura Hampson
Categories Equality
CategoriesEquality

One of the problems that exists when talking to young people about careers in construction is the lack of understanding about the variety of different roles available. Both teachers and school children are unaware of the scope with a career in construction and can limit the options of students because of preconceptions about who would be suitable to work in…

Providing opportunities for female operatives

Published 2 August 2016 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Diversity Equality Training
CategoriesDiversity Equality Training

Equality should be encouraged within the workforce across all individuals. In order for the industry to attract potential employees from all backgrounds, ages and genders, equality must be demonstrated. Additional training is an effective method in widening the accessibility and potential for the whole workforce. One site showed evidence of this through the below example: The organisation looked for opportunities…

Promoting women in construction

Published 7 July 2016 | No comments
Written by Charlene Millen
Categories Careers advice Cooperation
CategoriesCareers advice Cooperation

Women make up only 11 per cent of the construction workforce and just 1 per cent of workers on site. The Office for National Statistics says that the number of women working as roofers, bricklayers and glaziers is so low that it is unmeasurable. To promote Women into Construction our site team at Adelaide Street, Belfast recently organised a Women…

Celebrating National Women in Engineering Day

Published 6 July 2016 | No comments
Written by Andrew Sharp
Categories Careers advice Diversity Equality Legacy Schools Toolbox Talk Workforce
CategoriesCareers advice Diversity Equality Legacy Schools Toolbox Talk Workforce

To celebrate women in engineering and support and encourage more women to consider a career in engineering or construction, we developed a series of activities to celebrate National Women in Engineering Day (NWED). These encouraged staff to take the opportunity to understand a bit more about how the role of women in engineering has changed and continues to change in…

Spotlight on… campaign flyers

Published 22 June 2016 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Alcohol testing Apprenticeships Campaigns Communication Cycle safety Diversity Health screening Healthy lifestyle advice Illegal workers Inappropriate language Medications Mental health Occupational health risks Posters
CategoriesAlcohol testing Apprenticeships Campaigns Communication Cycle safety Diversity Health screening Healthy lifestyle advice Illegal workers Inappropriate language Medications Mental health Occupational health risks Posters

The Spotlight on… flyers have been designed for general display in and around site welfare facilities. The Scheme provides a collection of A5 flyers from both past and current ‘Spotlight on… ‘ awareness campaigns. Each unique flyer contains information on the industry issue and advice on how to tackle it. This resource has proven valuable for display on site and raising awareness…

Fairness, Inclusion and Respect toolkit

Published 29 February 2016 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories E-learning Equality Inclusion
CategoriesE-learning Equality Inclusion

Encouraging a culture where everyone is treated fairly is important in establishing and maintaining a safe and productive workplace. Clients and large contractors are increasingly working to develop a culture of Fairness, Inclusion and Respect (FIR) within their workplaces. This includes promoting equality and diversity, combating discrimination and promoting people’s wellbeing. They are increasingly expecting their supply chain partners to work with…

Women Into Construction

Published 2 November 2015 | No comments
Written by Eillish Kwai
Categories Diversity Equality
CategoriesDiversity Equality

Fulbourne Road, Walthamstow, London Ardmore have worked with the Women into Construction programme for five years ensuring that woman are able to demonstrate their skills and achievements within a male dominated environment. Ardmore have just delivered a £16m project which was an all woman site from the Project Manager, Design Manager, Quantity Surveyor, Engineer, Document Controller to some on-site trades. The…

Encouraging and supporting women into the construction industry

Published 8 April 2015 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Campaigns Careers advice CSCS Diversity Equality
CategoriesCampaigns Careers advice CSCS Diversity Equality

The industry needs to be promoted in a positive light to encourage women to consider a career in construction. The construction industry is currently made up of a predominately male workforce. A greater effort needs to be made to encourage women into the industry, to help build a more diverse skill set for the future. Below are examples of how sites can achieve…

‘Your Life’ campaign creating opportunities for women in construction

Published 25 November 2014 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Diversity Equality
CategoriesDiversity Equality

The construction industry remains a male-dominated industry. Women should be encouraged to consider a career in construction from a young age. The industry needs to be promoted in a positive light to women, and opportunities should be made available to encourage a diverse range of skills within the industry. This contractor has encouraged women into construction by implementing the following targets, which also supports…

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Case studies

Women interested in a career in construction need to hear from successful women in the industry, as female role models are essential in helping to attract more women into the industry.

The Scheme has reached out to women throughout the industry to hear their experiences of working in construction…

Roma Agrawal is a Structural Engineer at AECOM and a Director of the Considerate Constructors Scheme. Throughout her career she has worked on major projects, including The Shard, and appeared on television and radio promoting engineering careers to young people. Read her case study here

Caroline Barker is a civil engineer by profession and a Monitor for the Considerate Constructors Scheme. She is actively involved in the effort to improve the image of the industry and encourage people from diverse backgrounds to consider a career in construction. Read her case study here

Stephanie Bennett is a trainee Quantity Surveyor with Morgan Sindall. She worked in administration before becoming a surveyor and is currently being supported through university by Morgan Sindall. Read her case study here.

Victoria Betts is a senior Site Manager at Higgins Construction working on the Gabriel Square project in St. Albans. She started in the industry working with her father for a general building company carrying out plastering, tiling and kitchen installation. Read her case study here. 

Sally Cave is the first qualified female Gas Membrane Installer in the UK. She began working at her father’s installation company in administration but trained to become qualified for on-site work. Read her case study here.
Margaret Conway is a Project Manager for McAleer & Rushe. In 2017 she became the first woman to win the Construction Manager of the Year Award for her work on the 9 Adelaide project in Belfast. Read her case study here.
Michèle Dix is Managing Director of Crossrail 2, a new railway which will improve access to and from London and reduce congestion on existing rail services. Before moving to Crossrail, Michèle worked as Director of Congestion Charging at Transport for London. Read her case study here.

Katie Kelleher is a crawler crane operator working for Select/Laing O’Rourke. Katie worked in recruitment before starting an apprenticeship in October 2014. She has been working on the Tottenham Court Road Crossrail site since May 2015. Read her case study here.

Eillish Kwai is the Employment and Skills Manager at Ardmore. She is actively involved with the Women into Construction organisation, providing women with advice, training and job opportunities in the industry. Read her case study here.
Kath Moore is a qualified carpenter by trade and the Managing Director of Women into Construction, a not-for-profit organisation supporting women wishing to work in the construction industry. Read her case study here.

Megan Robinson is a Technical Coordinator at Barratt Developments plc and co-founder of Built by Both, a campaign to inspire young women to embark on careers in the built environment. Read her case study here.

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Law and legislation

The following law and legislation is relevant to helping address the obstacles faced by women in the workplace…

Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act superseded earlier legislation including the Equal Pay Act 1970 and the Sex Discrimination Act 1975. The Act requires equal treatment in access to employment, as well as private and public services regardless of age, disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or gender.

For Government guidance on the Act, click here.

Gender pay gap reporting

From April 2017, UK employers with over 250 staff are required to publish statistics on the gender pay gap in their organisation. This provision of the Equality Act will apply to a number of UK construction organisations.

For Government guidance on mandatory gender pay gap reporting, click here.

To read Acas’s guidance on pay gap reporting, click here.

Close External resources

External resources

Gender diversity is a huge issue in the construction industry today. There are numerous organisations and initiatives committed to encouraging women into the construction industry…

 

Organisations

  • Built by Both is a campaign to inspire young women to embark on careers in the built environment through educational experience days and networking events involving female role models. The initiative was organised by graduates from Barratt Homes.
  • Chicks with Bricks is a network for established and emerging women in the construction industry. They organise events throughout the year with guest speakers from the industry.
  • Constructing Equality offer training workshops and consultancy services to guide employers on creating and sustaining a diverse workforce.
  • National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) is an international organisation of women working in the construction industry. They organise site visits and host seminars and workshops to promote women in construction.
  • Tomorrow’s Engineers seeks to create a national network of employers working to connect with young people interested in a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) career.
  • Volunteer It Yourself (VIY) offers opportunities for young people (aged 14-24) to learn construction skills while volunteering on local community projects. Some 38% of the VIY volunteers are women.
  • Women’s Engineering Society (WES) is a charity and professional network of women in engineering disciplines, offering inspiration and support.
  • Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) works to achieve gender balance in STEM industries by showcasing role models and providing consultancy and training. Their Ten Steps initiative encourages companies to sustain the pipeline of female talent in STEM. A number of contractors have signed up to this framework. Read more about the initiative here.
    –  WISE also offer an online Culture Analysis Tool which allows STEM companies to understand and benchmark the diversity and inclusion culture in their organisation. Find out more here.
    –  WISE’s People Like Me resource uses the natural tendency of girls to articulate their self-identity using adjectives to show them that people like them are happy and successful working in STEM. View the ‘People like Me in construction’ pack here.
  • Women into Construction is a not-for-profit organisation that provides support for women looking to work in construction and assists contractors to recruit female workers.
  • Women on the Tools (formerly Women and Manual Trades) aim to increase the percentage of women in manual trades through connecting tradeswomen and working with schools and employers.
  • Your Life aims to increase the number of young people post-16 studying Maths and Physics by 50% by the end of 2017, encouraging more students to consider a career in STEM.

 

What is the industry doing?

  • Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) released a video called ‘Building Tomorrow’ profiling women in construction. Watch the video here. They have also launched a video blog series featuring a young female construction student using the hashtag #elliethebuilder. Watch the series here.
  • Construction Industry Council (CIC)’s Diversity Panel is a collaborative forum for members of all construction disciplines and professional bodies to identify and promote diversity policies in the construction industry. For more information, click here.
  • Construction Industry Training Board (CITB)’s BeFair accreditation framework aims to raise awareness about fairness, inclusion, respect and equal pay among construction companies. Find out more here.
  • Construction Youth Trust has a #notjustforboys campaign which showcases role models and hosts careers courses for young people, such as the Budding Brunels programme. Find out more here. To read the Smith Institute’s 2016 #notjustforboys report covering the whole spectrum of the issue, click here.
  • Federation of Master Builders challenge stereotypes that women cannot be involved with manual building work by citing women’s involvement in domestic DIY. View the infographic here.
  • Go Construct highlights career opportunities for women by compiling information, case studies, links and personality quizzes. Find out more here.
  • Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) developed an apprenticeship toolkit in partnership with WISE to help businesses close the skills gap in construction by recruiting more female apprentices. For more information, click here.
    – ICE is working with engineering companies to offer paid ‘returnship’ placements for older workers, with a particular focus on women. Read more here.
  • Royal Academy of Engineering offers a Diversity and Inclusion toolkit to give companies practical advice, tools and inspiration to improve diversity and inclusion in their workforce. Access the toolkit here.
  • Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) provides guides on how employers can implement diversity and inclusion. Their Inclusive Employer Quality Mark encourages companies to sign up and commit to improving inclusivity along six principles. Read more here. To read RICS’s 2016 report detailing the initiative, click here.
  • Supply Chain Sustainability School offers a free Fairness, Inclusion and Respect toolkit for the construction industry, including induction videos, e-learning courses and other key resources to promote inclusive behaviours. Access the toolkit here.
  • The Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians (UCATT) fights for dignity and equality for women working in the sector through a Women’s Network Forum, a ‘Women Get Women’ recruitment campaign and a Women’s Charter, pledging to address discrimination against women in the workplace. To find out more, click here.

 

What are contractors doing?

  • Ardmore worked with Women into Construction to support female graduates into employment on the Olympic Park site. This work has continued and Ardmore routinely place female construction workers on their sites. Read more here.
  • BAM Nuttall has launched a range of work clothing specifically designed for women. The company is also using its highway vans as mobile advertising hoardings to encourage women to consider a career in construction. Read more here.
  • Ballymore is encouraging women to join the industry by providing fair career opportunities and supporting women in the workplace. They recently interviewed women working on their London City Island project about their experiences in the industry. Read more here.
  • Bechtel, Bouygues and BRE Group host women’s networking forums for men and women to share advice and identify role models.
  • Carillion’s ‘Breaking Down One Million Barriers’ campaign seeks to encourage people to overcome barriers to career opportunities in construction. Read more here.
  • Crossrail is seeking to boost the representation of women working in construction. Almost one third of jobs with Crossrail are filled by women and they are conducting school visits and working with Women into Construction to place more women with the company. Read some of their stories here.
  • Durkan worked for a decade with Lambeth Council Building Work for Women and Women and Manual Trades to build a sustainable pipeline of female apprentices. Read more here.
  • Laing O’Rourke has a PeopleFIRST (Fairness, Inclusion, Respect and Sustaining Talent) programme to create a workforce that reflects society by making the company appealing to people from diverse backgrounds. Find out more here.
  • Lendlease promotes women in construction as part of its commitment to diversity, with campaigns to increase the visibility of women in the industry. Read more here.
  • Mace’s Women of the Future programme is a key part of their gender diversity policy. Run in partnership with WISE, the programme seeks to help participants reach their potential by building their skills, networks and confidence. Read more here.
  • RG Group is committed to equal opportunities and has written a whitepaper on women in construction, which can be read here.
  • Willmott Dixon is the only construction firm represented on the Women’s Business Council, which advises the Government on how women’s contribution to economic growth can be optimised. Watch their video on women in construction here.
  • Women Returners is a consultancy service for women returning from a career break. Amey, Balfour Beatty, Skanska and Tideway are among those offering returnships.
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