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What can the construction industry do to build a culture for gender equality?

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While huge steps have been made towards encouraging women into construction, there’s still a long way to go to address the lack of talented women in the industry.

With a variety of job roles available in engineering, architecture and building services, the construction world is an inviting and prosperous industry to be a part of – so why don’t more women play a bigger part?

Here’s 4 ways the construction industry can build a culture of gender equality as we celebrate International Women’s Day:

1. Encouragement

Following a joint survey we ran with leading industry magazine, Building, three-quarters of women told us they chose engineering as their first career option, yet over a third (35%) were discouraged from pursuing these aspirations.

Progress is underway towards schools, universities and industry bodies putting more focus on encouraging women into STEM and traditionally male dominated careers, and whilst this is important, employers also need to take action. Promoting the diverse range of roles needed for large construction projects will allow women to take advantage of the opportunities out there.

2. Role models

We should be celebrating the achievements of women in the industry. Our survey results indicate that women are more ambitious with nearly two-thirds aspiring to reach a senior leadership position in engineering, compared to less than half of men.

Companies can ensure their female employees become role models, and encourage junior female employees to reach out to their senior colleagues for mentoring and advice. While the gender of a line manager should have no impact on male or female employees, it does influence whether employees feel able to self-promote and take advantage of career opportunities.

3. Tackle the skills shortages

The construction industry is lacking in operations and technical skills, as well as managerial and leadership knowledge. Tapping into a female talent pool will help support skills gaps, and recognise the importance of the skills women can bring to construction roles.

Female graduates entering the profession also bring digital skillsets, helping the industry as it applies new technologies such as virtualisation into pre-construction planning. Companies who do engage with a wider talent pool, will be better equipped to capitalise on innovations in the industry, giving them a distinct advantage.

4. Accepting flexibility

To retain women in construction, it’s important to make it easy for them to return to work after having children, as well as making the job as flexible as possible.

Supporting both women and men with flexible working arrangements and other child-related benefits, will improve job satisfaction. It will also make it less likely that women will halt their careers after having children.

Employers, schools and universities need to continue to bolster and improve the culture within construction, and inspire more women to help shape the UK’s construction talent pool. Doing so will allow for better career path transparency, as businesses grow the number of women developing successful and rewarding careers in construction.

To find out more, download a copy of Building Equality: Women in Construction report to find out how your company can achieve diversity objectives

To find out more, or to discuss your recruitment needs in this field, please contact your local consultant.

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