This IWD, how can we get more women into male-dominated sectors such as construction? asks Kelly Friel from Zoro.
The Government announces its recovery plan with the words ‘build, build, build’. Yet the construction industry is one of the most male-dominated in the UK. This International Women’s Day focuses on the need to challenge the status quo. In this article, Kelly Friel from trade equipment specialists Zoro shares her insight into hiring and retaining more female employees in the construction sector.
According to the GMB Union, it will take almost 200 years to achieve gender equality within the construction industry at its current rate of improvement. Government data has shown that just 15% of the construction workforce is made up of female employees and this lack of diversity within construction isn’t just an important social issue. Hiring women can have crucial benefits for businesses within the construction industry.
A business’s ability to attract, recruit and retain the best possible talent can be invaluable for achieving company goals and growth, and it can even lead to higher financial returns and performance, according to research by McKinsey. A wider talent pool could also be the remedy for issues such as the aging workforce and would mean the industry is more prepared to cope with future disasters on the same scale as Covid-19.
Here are some ideas for companies seeking to create a more diverse culture that can enhance their chances of hiring more female employees.
One of the key ways to attract more female talent is to focus on changing perceptions of the industry so that women will feel confident applying for long-term roles in construction. This involves highlighting the varied positions, opportunities for professional development and progression paths available within the industry in your marketing. Demonstrating the value of a career in construction can appeal to female jobseekers who may typically value job security and stability.
It is also important to focus on making your company culture and workspace more inclusive. You should offer flexibility in your working schedules, allowing for a better work/life balance and appealing to all potential employees with families and other responsibilities outside of work.
Having the appropriate amenities and hygiene facilities should also be a priority, as any shortcomings can remind female employees that they are in an industry that is typically dominated by men.
Making improvements within your own company is a must, but to have a wider impact within the industry, businesses need to promote gender equality and encourage others to do the same. Champion female mentors and role models on social media, encourage your employees to attend industry conferences or even offer webinars. The more of a voice you can give women in your company, the more you’ll get noticed by the right talent.
You can help nurture a more diverse environment by getting involved in educational programmes and youth employment drives. This involves encouraging girls to study STEM subjects from an early age and attracting grassroots talent by offering more apprenticeships for female students, school leavers and graduates. By doing so, you will be preserving the future talent pipeline while educating young people about the opportunities for all genders within construction careers.
These are just some of the ways we can invite and encourage more women to take up roles in construction. Bear them in mind and your company, as well as the industry, will benefit.