How can we encourage more women into the construction industry?

A shortage of skilled workers is one of the biggest challenges facing the construction industry, which means many organisations are having to look further afield to build their workforce. Attracting a more diverse range of people into the sector could go a long way towards closing the skills gap.

Construction has always been a male-dominated industry, and while other sectors have seen a real improvement in gender equality in recent decades, it seems the construction industry has failed to keep up. Women represent around half of the UK’s workforce, yet they account for just 13% of construction workers, of whom only 1% work on-site[1].

Bringing more women into the industry would inevitably bring new skill sets and perspectives into the sector, and could widen the pool of skilled candidates considerably. But as it stands, the future doesn’t look bright – there’s currently only one female construction apprentice to every 56 male apprentices.

Clearly, the industry needs to work to address this gender imbalance, and fundamental changes will be needed to make a career in construction more appealing to women. Here are some of the ways you can ensure your organisation doesn’t miss out on female talent:

Treat employees equally

This may seem like an obvious point, but many construction companies are failing to make sure that their staff are treated equally, regardless of their gender. From providing both male and female toilets on site, to providing protective equipment that fits properly, you must ensure that everyone has the working conditions they need to do their job properly.

While the gender pay gap within construction is narrowing, it’s still one of the worst industries for pay disparity. The gap has fallen from 36% last year to 20% this year, which show that although construction organisations are trying to address this issue, they still have a significant way to go. Your organisation can help by making sure your staff are paid and promoted based on their job role and performance, not their gender.

Be flexible

The travel and long working hours involved in many construction roles mean that many workers struggle with work/life balance, and this could be discouraging women from entering the industry. Both women and men with parental responsibilities need an element of flexibility within their roles which is currently hard to find within the construction sector.

However, when RICS asked industry professionals for their recommendations to encourage more female talent into the sector, 48% of respondents said that flexible working is key. So think about how you could adapt your working practices and the roles on offer to accommodate those that need flexibility. Could some of your staff work from home, for example, or would some roles be suitable for job sharing?

Set the record straight

Many people have pre-conceived ideas about what it’s like to work within the construction industry, and some of these ideas may deter women from applying for construction roles. As it’s such a male-dominated industry, for example, women might be unaware of the opportunities available to them.

Your organisation can help to bust some of the myths around construction work by educating the wider public about the wide range of roles within your organisation. When people think of construction workers, for example, they might think of bricklayers and forklift operators, but not realise there are jobs for people with different skillsets, such as surveyors and project managers. You should also spread the word about the women that are working within your organisation, to show that women are just as capable of having successful careers within construction as in any other sector.

Supporting greater diversity

At Constructionline, we know that responsible Buyers are searching for suppliers that are aware of the corporate social responsibility agenda and proactively promote equality and diversity within their workforce. All of the suppliers on the Constructionline platform have been pre-qualified by our experts, making it easier for you to find suppliers that align with your CSR strategy.

To find out more about the benefits Constructionline click here.


Blog SMEs, Skills shortage
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