Encouraging a Diverse Workforce

Chris Haines
Faithful+Gould recently attended The Duke of Gloucester’s Young Achievers Scheme awards evening organised by Construction Youth Trust where two of our graduates were shortlisted for awards within their disciplines.

Construction Youth Trust was set up to support young people who find their journey into employment challenging for reasons such as socio-economic status, gender, ethnicity or lack of awareness of the opportunities available within the construction industry. The Duke of Gloucester’s Young Achievers Scheme and the Awards Ceremony provides a great opportunity for young professionals to be recognised by the industry and to celebrate their achievements.

Jamie Linehan, graduate quantity surveyor and Laura Hamer-West, graduate project manager, based in our Exeter and Bristol offices respectively, were put forward for the awards, having excelled in their disciplines despite entering the construction industry via non traditional routes and overcoming challenges. The following are some of the key challenges they addressed in their submissions.

Gender

Women still only account for around 10% of roles within the construction industry and there continues to be limited female representation at director and board level. Traditionally, careers in construction have not been promoted to girls at a young age.

Laura attended an all girl’s school and was never presented with any options for careers within construction. It was only through actively researching the industry whilst applying for university that she came across a potential career route that suited her skills.

However, as outlined in several of our recent women in construction articles there appears to be an increasing balance between men and women, which is perhaps attributed to a combination of cultural change, employment legislation, improved flexibility in working hours and encouraging women's career development at a senior level.

In order to promote equality Faithful+Gould as part of the Atkins Group has been involved in promoting opportunities in construction for women through a gender balance programme, recognising that businesses who adopt this approach perform better and establish more effective relationships with clients.

Education & Awareness

Changes in career paths are an increasing trend for young people, largely as a result of the economic climate and their aspirations for progression. Jamie started his career in the mental health sector following a sociology and policy degree; however, his aspirations and interests compelled him to make the bold step of completely changing his career path.

Many employees at Faithful+Gould hold undergraduate degrees in a variety of non-construction related subjects but have proven through their successes that many of their fundamental skills are transferable and that through additional support and training they can swiftly develop within a construction environment.

Construction generates widespread opportunities and within many organisations, including Faithful+Gould, it is possible to move between disciplines, sectors, offices, regions and countries.

Benefits of Diversity

According to the Department for Innovation and Skills if equality and diversity is managed effectively within an organisation then it can produce numerous benefits both internally and externally, including; knowledge about new markets, creativity and problem solving.

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (acas) concurs, stating that valuing equality and diversity is becoming progressively more important to businesses, not only because it generates innovation and ideas, but because a diverse workplace is well placed to deal with a diverse range of customers as well as making it easier to recruit and retain staff in an increasingly competitive labour market.

Jamie and Laura’s success in making the shortlist for these prestigious awards is an acknowledgment of their successful transfer into construction from other career paths. At Faithful+Gould we welcome a diverse employee population and strive to ensure that our workforce represents the population in the locations that we are based.

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