Main contractors praise Women Into Construction group

Main contractors praise Women Into Construction group

12 April 2022

The eight construction businesses to take part in Silverstone Park developer MEPC’s Women into Construction (WIC) programme have praised the influence it has had on their gender equality and diversity policies.

All say the programme’s ‘Change the Game’ theme has helped them to evolve existing policies and introduce new practises across their workforces.

Here is what the contractors had to say about being part of MEPC’s Women into Construction group.

Ben Ramsay, MD, Barnwood Construction:
“Being part of the group helped us have honest and positive conversations about how we make the construction industry and our company more gender inclusive.

“The knowledge gained gave us confidence to focus our plans and start to increase our own gender diversity with 40% of new starters in 2021 being female employees.

“We are excited to start 2022 with a gender diversity business plan in place, with targeted actions and responsibilities.”

Julia Hellier, Group Social Value Manager, Bowmer & Kirkland:
“It’s made us realise that we’re not alone in our journey to achieve better gender balance – that other companies were in a similar place and addressing similar challenges. It was valuable to share experiences and discuss solutions together.

“Reading Julia Muir’s book and being able to hear directly from her about her experiences within the automotive industry was a perfect illustration of how to go about it.

“She armed us with practical solutions – like setting an overall female representation target for our business and having an action plan to support it, which we are implementing – and showed us that gender balance doesn’t belong in the ‘too hard’ basket.”

Andrew Dudley, MD, Armac Group:
“Having recently joined MEPC’s supply chain, we were questioned by Roz (Bird) around the percentage of females we employed in manual roles, which we were ashamed to say was 0%.

“With the help of Women Into Construction, we are making significant cultural change in our family business, making it a place for fathers, sons and an ever-increasing amount of daughters.”

Helena Boyle, Director, Forkers:
“We are very grateful to have been given the opportunity to take part in this workshop. We learned a lot from other members of the group both from a company perspective, and as individuals, about the barriers which exist and how we can make a difference.

“The format of the meetings provided us with the discipline we needed to make progress and to ensure that action was and will continue to be taken.”

John Birch, Director, Glanville Consultants:
“We are experiencing an acute skills shortage in the construction industry. As a business, staff retention and recruitment is one of Glanville’s biggest challenges.

“We firmly believe our involvement with the Women into Construction group, resulting in the introduction of an equality, diversity and inclusion (ED&I) strategy and associated action plan, is assisting us with retaining staff and helping us to recruit from a wider pool of candidates that will result in a larger and more diverse workforce, with better representation from women and other minority groups.

“We have already introduced many changes and completed a number of actions that from part of our ED&I Strategy. We are currently working to introduce a menopause policy and are reviewing our maternity and paternity benefits and associated policies.”

Sonia Vales, Head of Human Resources at Ridge & Partners LLP:
 “Working collectively with the group has given us the insight to help shape our equality, diversity and inclusion priorities at Ridge.

“Together, we have shared knowledge and ideas, while combining our strengths to put ‘women into construction’ on the agenda.

“At Ridge, we are focused on gender equality, looking at how we attract and promote women into the sector, and now have clear metrics to evaluate our progress moving forward.”

Jim Boothroyd, Partner, Gardiner & Theobald (G&T):
“Participating in the process, and receiving feedback from other colleagues to the programme, has helped to assess our own process, in regard to recruitment, training, diversity and on-going career-long support to our personnel.

“Capturing target outcomes from the group process has helped to make the assessment and messaging of our data more visible to a wider readership within and external to G&T, much of what we communicate in this regard is included in our publications and guidance visible to all.

“The experience of the programme and the guidance received has helped us to be sure that we capture the best opportunities of support and engagement and how we message this within our existing and emerging policy.”

Neil Matthias, Operations Director, Wates Construction, Yorkshire & North East:
“Attracting women into construction is a clear goal at Wates. As sponsoring director for diversity and inclusion, I look forward to leading this change.

“Attending the ‘Women into Construction – Change the Game’ workshops has allowed me personally to become more aware of the barriers women face in our industry, and how to create solutions to help develop their careers to become future leaders within our industry.”