Why the gender imbalance won’t be addressed unless cultures are adapted

Date: 1/08/2016

We’ve been vocal in the past on how the construction industry can – and indeed should – address the skills gaps that are still widely prevalent in this field. But what really strikes us is that almost half of the population of the UK is being deterred from working in this field simply because of their gender.

Change for a patriarchal sector?

It’s common knowledge that construction has long been heavily male-dominated and there have been numerous initiatives implemented to increase the number of female employees. And it would appear that these are beginning to have some impact. There are currently over 265,000 women working in construction and statistics suggest that female professionals will make up 26% of the workforce by 2020.

While this all sounds fantastic, there’s a very important question that isn’t being asked: are these women staying in the industry? We would argue that a large proportion aren’t, as the culture and environment within construction firms simply aren’t appealing to many of these individuals.

If employers fail to consider the impact of the work culture they are fostering, we will see a churn of female talent that will not only render previous efforts to attract these individuals pointless, but also limit the number of women in management positions.
What we need to see now is a greater number of employers investing just as much effort into creating a working – and managing – environment that is supportive of the female talent they have been able to bring into the firm, as they would in attracting these individuals in the first place.

Attracting and retaining more women - enough being done?

If employers can demonstrate their commitment to female professionals – including clearly outlining career progression and providing the required training – they will soon see a shift in attitudes and behaviours that have historically held women back. Yes there is still a lot to be done to encourage more females into the profession, but without an adjustment to culture of the workforce as a whole, successful gender diversity will be nigh on impossible.

While getting more women into construction remains a challenge that many industry spokespeople are vocal about, too few discuss how to retain these individuals once they are on board. Thankfully, times have changed and we’re now seeing a healthier pipeline of female talent moving into the sector compared to recent years. However, all of this hard work could go to waste if employers don’t think about the impact of the working culture that they’re fostering.

What’s your view? Will company cultures impacted the retention of female construction staff?


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