Faithful+Gould is proud to celebrate International Women’s Day

Holly Kerr
Today is a chance for us to celebrate the progress made towards gender equality and female empowerment, both within and outside of the workplace. I spoke to some of the women of SNC-Lavalin’s Faithful+Gould Business and asked them to reflect on what being a woman in construction means to them and what inspires them not only on International Women’s Day but every day of year.

Faithful+Gould is committed to creating a diverse and inclusive work environment where all can realise their full potential as valued members of our team. It's the right thing to do - for our people, our clients and our shareholders.

In 2018, we maintained our intake of 31% female graduates and grew our intake of female apprentices from 21% to 26%. It's an achievement that we're proud of considering that on average, only 15% of undergraduate engineering students in the UK are female.  

“I have the good fortune to work in a diverse workplace and am surrounded by people who inspire me, in many different ways. I would say that, whether we’re talking about gender diversity or anything else be yourself from the get-go.” – Hannah Davis, a Regional Director who heads up our Strategic Asset Management Team, based in London.

This year the theme of International Women’s Day is Balance for Better – ‘Think equal, build smart, innovate for change’. We want to focus on building a gender-balanced world by investing in ‘gender-responsive social systems’.  

What is the Gender Pay Gap?

The pay gap is calculated as the difference between average hourly earnings of women and men across an organisation or the labour market. It’s expressed as a percentage of men’s earnings. In the UK, there is an overall gender pay gap of 18.1%. This pay gap is influenced by individual choice (e.g. choosing to work part-time, when full-time employment is available) and external factors (e.g. discrimination). Faithful+Gould also produces an annual Gender Pay Gap Report 2018 to track our progress and achievement of Diversity & Inclusion objectives, and also to raise awareness of the imbalance in the industry to attract more females. Our 2018 Report results indicate that while our overall gender pay gap has remained relatively static and in line with the industry average, we're starting to see some positive trends which suggest that the actions we're taking to address the balance of women in our mid-to-senior paid roles - such as unconscious bias training and our award-winning Women's Development Programme - are having an impact. In 2018, we grew our intake of female starters in mid-to-senior paid roles by 29%.

“There has been huge improvement in recent years increasing the number of women in Construction, however this can get even better. This is not just an industry issue but a societal one.” - Sarah Seasman, a Senior Quantity Surveyor from our Warrington office.

The Construction industry has the largest pay gap in the UK, as reported by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

Clearly there is still progress to be made within our industry and this is something we should all make a considered and conscious effort to change, working together.

But what about the impact of gender on your everyday life?

How do we create gender equality?

To work towards gender equality in the workplace, we need to make some fundamental changes to society. We must continue to dismantle the preconceived ideas about job roles and industries that are typically associated with men (many in the construction industry) and those typically associated with women. As these stereotypes are formed from a young age, it is crucial that we expose students to a broad world view whilst at school, and beyond once in further or higher education. We must also reinforce the message that career choices should not be dictated or prohibited by gender.

What can you do?

“We must continue to make ourselves aware to those in schools and universities. Last year I was a mentor to a Kingston University student and I introduced her to a number of colleagues and project team members, opening her eyes to the different roles construction could offer and the fact there were plenty of women in construction already.” – Jenny Marshall, a Senior Quantity Surveyor from our Epsom office.

So, what can we do to encourage the next generation of young women and men to look beyond these stereotypes? We should continue to nurture our women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) initiatives.

We are the role models for the next generations of women who will join the construction industry. 

At Faithful+Gould we encourage our colleagues take action and help make a change: we currently have over 600 STEM Ambassadors that reach out to a wide range of schools, including those with underrepresented communities.

“For me, being a woman in the construction industry means, figuring out who I am, understanding how the successful men and women in the industry have achieved their success, drawing a blueprint for success that is authentic to me and building my career off that blueprint on purpose.” - Nelly Twumasi-Mensah, our Business Projects and Change Lead for UK & Europe.

Our workplace should reflect our society. It should be diverse in terms of race, age, socio-economics, sexuality, ethnicities, physical abilities, cultures and of course, gender. Moving forward both women and men in the construction industry have a critical role to play in creating this workplace. So, as today is International Women’s Day, I would ask that you reflect on your role in our journey towards gender equality and a balance for better.

 

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