Construction industry still playing catch up with other sectors on equality

A new industry survey has revealed that women are three times more likely to miss out on a promotion than men, while nearly half of 5,500 respondents stated they had never worked with a female manager.

The results are part of the HR firm Randstad’s ‘women in construction’ campaign which aims to identify issues the industry faces and highlight the progress being made. Randstad released the findings after surveying more than 5,500 people from the construction, property, engineering and rail industries.

While progress is being made to ensure various sectors become more inclusive, the report shows that strides still need to be made, Worryingly, research conducted found 43% of businesses do not monitor the difference between men and women's pay and that only one in every five board members in construction is a woman. Furthermore, 75% of those passed over for a more senior role in the sector were women.

Despite it being well documented that women remain under-represented in the construction industry, 93% of respondents said having a female manager would either have a negligible or positive affect on them. The responses show the desire for more to be done when it comes to ensuring the construction sector does not fall behind when it comes to equality in the workforce.

Commenting on the report, Owen Goodhead, managing director at Randstad, said: “At a time when equality and diversity is making leaps forward, construction is still playing catch up in some areas. Companies need to band together to build an environment that nurtures and rewards successful, hard-working women to move up the career ladder. Though the number of women entering construction is slowly rising, retention is a key area that needs development. Organisations that cannot retain, develop and enhance their female workforce will be missing out on key skills, new ideas and ways of working to help keep the industry driving forward.” 

Factors highlighted by the study which are thought to limit the retention and progression of aspiring female leaders:

  1. Inappropriate comments from a male colleague
  2. Passed over for promotion 
  3. Overlooked for important projects

A lack of female role models in senior positions has also been highlighted as a barrier in progression. Just under half (45%) of women mentioned how a lack of senior female role models had an impact on their career. The report argues having women that have been through similar experiences, who have overcome obstacles and successfully achieved may inspire those trying to do the same thing as well as those who never before considered a career in construction.

Pam Sherwood, a health and safety manager at Randstad, said: “There are enough events and initiatives going on in the industry, in many different sectors, so the door is definitely open for women. In the six years of working with construction firms, I have seen an improvement around women in construction. The key is in building rapport and trusting relationships.” 

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