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How can talent management encourage more women to the construction industry?

25th October 2018 | Richard Goodall

How can talent management encourage more women to the construction industry?

Traditionally, the construction industry has been dominated by men. As a result, it has been and continues to be an uphill struggle to attract female talent into the industry. The overarching theme of male dominance in the sector teamed with long-standing and old-fashioned ways of behaving and treating women, it should come as no surprise to talent managers that women would rather work in more welcoming and safe environments and sectors.

The construction industry has a reasonably bad reputation, in terms of gender diversity, which companies working within it are trying to repair by introducing schemes and ways of working which present a more positive image. Businesses have also implemented training methods which aim to stamp archaic attitudes and behaviours towards women, both in the workplace and when working in public the public eye.

Changes to the industry standard

The industry has seen some growth and evolution in recent years, with more women than ever on site and working in the management teams. Resources such as PPE protective clothing has been changed to offer suitable options for women, in terms of tailoring and fit to ensure that they can work safely rather than wearing men’s clothing which could be ill-fitting and therefore hazardous.

Schools and higher-education institutions have also worked closely with construction companies and industry heads to try and promote STEM subjects, which include roles within the industry. The efforts to get more young people, particularly women, involved in STEM subjects has increased exponentially. This has been done through a number of channels and promoting the various benefits and options available to those who choose to take STEM subjects.

The importance of construction work is also being more heavily publicised, with jobs in the field now being linked to much deeper meanings beyond simply creating something. There is a bigger focus on the value that some of these structures have in society and the effect that they will have on the quality of life for lots of people, whether it is new affordable housing for families or a hospital or school.

The increasing focus on environmental preservation has also lead to more women registering an interest in the sector, with roles within environmental and sustainability advisory now crucial to the development of new projects. Construction projects are becoming more and more green, with resources carefully considered in terms of sustainability, recycling and waste, to ensure that each new structure is created with the least amount of impact on the immediate and wider environment.

Finally, with an increased number of women entering the industry, there are now more women moving into powerful positions and therefore able to exert more influence. Mentorship programmes are increasing in popularity and as a result, the diversity within the industry is able to flourish. Support and encouragement from role models are making a significant impact on giving women the confidence to enter the industry whilst also being able to trust in their leadership. More female leadership in the sector signifies that times have changed and employees can be confident that they will be able to work in a  dynamic, forward-thinking, challenging and safe environment.

Where talent managers have not seen these and further changes implemented in their company, they will likely lose out on attracting highly-skilled women who are looking to enter or progress in the industry. Without this diversity, projects will likely move more slowly and see less progressiveness in terms of thinking and building new and creative ideas, falling behind competitors.