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Encouraging more women into construction

The conversation about challenging gender inequality in construction has been getting busier and more vocal for several years. While there has been some research into the representation of women in the construction industry, the figures haven’t shown any major signs of improvement. Construction is still one of several sectors where only a small proportion of jobs are held by women — in fact, just 14% of the UK construction workforce is made up of women.



However, what is starting to emerge is that women working in construction are beginning to hold all kinds of roles, including at FTSE Board level. A 2021 government survey found the number of women on FTSE Boards is up by 50% in just five years, meaning more than a third (34.3%) of FTSE 350 Board positions are now held by women.


This week is Women in Construction Week and International Women's Day is 8th March - a great opportunity to for us to share an article we published earlier this year...


Back in November 2021 , the London Build Expo took place and featured the annual ‘Women in Construction Networking Event’ (in partnership with NAWIC) which was a free-to-attend session. We sent two of our aspiring females in construction - Sarah Robbins & Jessica Eady - to attend and learn from an inspiring panel of industry leaders as they celebrated the successes and discussed the challenges facing female AEC professionals. It was a great opportunity to network with fellow professionals and feel inspired by the diverse stories that make up one of the most exciting industries.


They got to meet some of the amazing team of ‘Women in Construction Ambassadors’ who are furthering equality in the built environment, ranging from architects, engineers, and designers to diversity champions.

Here, Jessica and Sarah reflect on their day:


“The construction industry isn’t just for men. Women make up around 14% of the construction industry, with this number only rising with more women selecting construction jobs.
A few of us from Build-Zone had the opportunity to visit the UK's largest meeting of women in construction that takes place at London Build each year. The networking event aims to inspire young women about the industry. Industry architects, engineers, designers, and diversity champions come together to promote what they're doing to make a change and discuss the challenges facing female professionals."

Although women now constitute just over half the British workforce, and the number of women in construction education is increasing overall, they continue to be unrepresented in the construction industry.

What they learned/discovered:

High appetite for women to work in construction

  • An emerging community of female professionals

  • Pending skills shortages provide more opportunities to attract women into the construction industry

  • Lack of diversity within the industry

  • The typical age profile of females is 30-40.

Barriers to entry:

  • Macho culture on site

  • Old-fashioned attitudes

  • Gender pay gap

  • Male-dominated organisational culture

  • Lisa Fitzsimons, HR Director from Rydon, a main contractor, stated that inflexible working practices is one of the main barriers to women in the UK construction industry.

  • Education culture – women tend not to be encouraged to pursue careers in construction

  • The image of the construction industry remains rooted in the past – associated with difficult working conditions, unskilled manual labour and difficult employee relations.

Opportunities:

Promote strong female role models and internal female network groups

  • Partner with schools and colleges to inform and educate ‘careers in construction roles’

  • Consider rolling out unconscious bias training to all employees

  • Join “Women into Construction” (an independent, not-for-profit organisation that promotes gender equality in construction) adding logo onto email address/signature

  • Women into Construction | Changing the Face of Construction (https://www.women-into-construction.org/)

  • Industry-wide networking.


If more women decide to opt for a job in construction, some things will have to change. And perhaps the most important of these is the gender pay gap. The construction industry employs a massive 2.1 million people in the UK and, according to the Women in Construction Summit, only 14% of these employees are women. This low figure is no surprise when you know that, shockingly, women are paid on average 12% less than their male counterparts in the same role. This glaring disparity has to be addressed if the UK has any hope of women seeing construction as an attractive career option.

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About Build-Zone

Build-Zone offers A-rated backed structural warranties for New Homes, Commercial, Mixed-Use, Build to Rent, Social Housing, Self-Build, and Custom Build schemes together with their leading technical services company, Build-Zone Survey Services Ltd.


Site insurance and structural warranties are both forms of project insurance and can often be purchased from a single, specialist insurance provider. However, it should be noted that they are completely different products: site insurance will protect against issues arising on-site before and during your build, whereas a structural warranty is there to cover you for any failure in the building structure after it has been completed.

You will need a structural warranty to gain protection against any fundamental structural problems with the building, typically for up to 10 years. Mortgage lenders will insist on a warranty, but even if you are funding your build with cash, it’s still a standard requirement to have one, so any future sales of the property aren’t jeopardised.


How much does a structural warranty cost?

As a rule of thumb, it’s usually a good idea to budget 1% of your indicative build costs. This will be payable ahead of any work whatsoever occurring on site. A retrospective structural warranty is much harder to get and often much more expensive, so any decisions around insurance should be made right at the beginning of your project.


For more information on any of our structural warranty insurance policies, explore our products here: https://www.build-zone.com/structural-warranty

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