Willmott Dixon is a privately-owned contracting and interior fit-out group with a local regional presence throughout the UK. Founded in 1852, we are a family run business with true family values that are dedicated to leaving a positive legacy in our communities and environment. Our ‘Why’ is to build lives less ordinary and to be the contractor of choice for our customers, our people and our supply chain partners.
Our business is our people and we have a real focus and drive to support their continuous development. We strongly believe that this passion is what differentiates us and has allowed us to enjoy considerable growth and success year after year, underlined by us achieving 5th place in the 2020 Sunday Times list of Best 100 Companies to Work For – better than any other construction company has ever achieved and we are the Times Top 50 Employers for Women 2020.
Add to that our numerous other awards, including three Queen’s Awards for Enterprise in five years; our industry-leading approach to sustainability – we have been carbon neutral since 2012; and a strong financial position, with 100% UK turnover and no bank borrowings…we truly can offer a career of a lifetime.
The core values that support everything we do:
Ethical – our people and operations meet the highest standards of conduct.
Sustainable – our culture, training and ethos is about making sure we have the best people in the industry to work with our clients.
Contributing – we want to make society a better place for all, and that includes investing over £2 million a year in community projects.
Quality – we are vigorous and determined that the output of our work is the highest standard available anywhere.
Our sustainability development journey – We’ve been on this journey since 1852 Sustainable development has been a priority for us for a very long time, and our activities have shaped not only our own business, but our industry as a whole.
Diversity At Willmott Dixon
Strategically we wish to create and maintain a professional workforce capable of delivering an effective and efficient service.
By making the best use of all the available resources we aim to achieve our strategic and operational priorities. As a company which greatly values its reputation for acting ethically, we are committed to promoting diversity and appreciating the differences that diversity provides.
We recognise the value of a workforce in which people from differing backgrounds are encouraged to offer fresh ideas and perspectives.
We aspire to increase motivation and productivity for all our people by providing career opportunities based on merit and potential.
We provide a safe, secure and accessible working environment that values the diversity of our employees and future employees.
This approach highlights our commitment to the promotion of a harmonious working environment where dignity at work, equality and diversity are central; where no-one is subjected to discrimination because of their age, colour, disability, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, gender, marital status, religious beliefs, socio-economic background, or some other personal characteristic or circumstance.
This approach applies to all our people and extends to all those with whom a working relationship exists, such as supply chain partners.
Willmott Dixon is actively working to:
Value people and their differences and enable all of our employees to achieve their full potential.
Eliminate all forms of unfair discrimination (both direct and indirect), prejudice and victimisation.
Promote equality of opportunity and enhance choice and flexibility for all our people.
Treat people with dignity and respect, recognising the value of each individual.
In order to continuously embed equality and diversity into our culture:
Training is provided for managers as part of our well-established management development programme and managers are also required to attend the Group Diversity and Cultural Awareness training.
All new employees are given a copy of the Dignity at Work Policy as part of their induction and copies are posted on all notice boards.
Monitoring is carried out regularly with statistical data provided to the Board on a monthly basis.
Willmott Dixon is “seeking to extend and push the opportunity for women to join our business” in a bid to achieve a 50:50 gender balance by 2030.
Currently, women account for 24 per cent of the company’s total workforce.
The percentage of female trainees taken on by the firm last year was 40 per cent.
The contractor will aim to increase the percentage of female trainees taken on next year to 50 per cent.
A welcome return!
Fenella Lowden, assistant bid manager, tells us how she joined our team through our Welcome Back returners programme after a 9 year career break…
I heard about the Welcome Back programme from a friend who had been successful in returning to work via a returner scheme. After taking a 9 year career break to concentrate on my family, I was ready to re-launch my career and set myself the goal of getting onto a suitable programme with a company where I could make the most of my previous experience.
When I saw the advert for Willmott Dixon offering regional returnerships, I jumped at the chance! The Welcome Back scheme is a 20-week programme on a fixed-term contract basis that offers work experience along with a coaching programme that includes refresher training and new skills. For the right candidates, it leads to the opportunity for a permanent role.
After completing the programme I joined the new business department full time within the bid management team and have been (and am still!) learning the bid management process which I am thoroughly enjoying.
Making the most of my experience
My early career was spent working in the hotel industry; with the majority of that period spent at The Dorchester Hotel in London, where I became the youngest ever female head of department in the history of the hotel. Following this, I moved in to facilities management and was lucky enough to work for some well know blue chip companies. It was during this time that I wrote a business case for an £80m refurbishment project for one of the company’s old buildings but shortly after this I went on maternity leave. Returning to my previous role in a part time capacity was not an option, however my customer requested that I come back in the role of communications manager dedicated to the refurbishment project – this experience has been invaluable in my new role.
It was when the project reached completion that I decided to take a career break to concentrate on my family and personal life. In all, I took 9 years out of the corporate environment although I volunteered for charities for many years during this time.
Support through the Welcome Back programme
The Welcome Back programme was a huge help to me finding my feet again in the workplace. From learning to introduce myself as a business professional again, networking, managing my time at home and work, negotiating a permanent role, saying ‘no’ when needed and remembering that it is a marathon not a sprint; the support has been incredible!
I am now employed as an assistant bid manager, which plays to my previous experience in communications and construction industry knowledge. I have also negotiated a four day week ensuring that I get some valuable time with my family at times that suit them – getting the balance right!
I would absolutely recommend the Welcome Back programme to anyone that wants to get back into work after a career break; it is such a support and allows you to test the water in a ‘safe’ environment at the same time as being able to develop yourself and your skillset. At the very least you get 20 weeks of invaluable experience, at the best a new career!
Case Study 2
Gemma Welsher – Director (Procurement).
Gemma has been working for Willmott Dixon for 10 years and was recently promoted to pre-construction manager, overseeing all tender and bid work for our Wales and the West office.
Managing a team of 15, Gemma thrives on the diversity and variety in her role but didn’t always plan on a career in construction.
“At school I was actually really interested in art and English, but I was lucky to be made aware of the opportunities within the construction industry as my Dad was a lecturer in Construction in the built Environment.”
She continues “Through that course I got a real taste of all the possible roles in the construction industry, from bricklaying to management and surveying we got to experience the lot, which is where a lot of people miss out I think, as they are just not aware of the diversity of roles available to them”.
Although originally intending on a degree with Loughborough University, Gemma was given the opportunity to become a management trainee in quantity surveying for a construction firm, “that was something I would never have predicted, when quantity surveying was suggested my response was – ‘but I am no good at maths!’ it’s these preconceptions that we need to break down as I have honestly never looked back.”
Gemma then worked on several high profile projects before joining Willmott Dixon as commercial manager; “I really enjoyed working for here from the start, my roles have been interesting and challenging and what I really love is that every day is different.
One of the most satisfying parts of working in construction is the team work aspect, everyone pulls together to build something amazing.
I often drive past buildings and say ‘I built that!’ to my kids, not that I laid a brick of it, but that’s the point – there is so much more to creating a building than just laying the bricks.”
Gemma’s advice to young women thinking about a career in construction:
“To be honest I think the most important thing is to understand the opportunities available – regardless of gender, no matter what your skill set is there is probably something that will appeal to you” she continued “the industry is changing a lot at the moment, and new technologies are coming to the forefront so different skill sets and competencies are required; the options are vast and often surprising.”