Commitment Pledge to the Young Women’s Trust to get more young women into construction apprenticeships
Launch of Women in Business network to help women remain and rise up within the construction industry
As the world celebrates International Women’s Day Balfour Beatty, the international infrastructure group, announced a range of initiatives to continue its drive to decrease the gender gap within the construction industry.
The group has signed up to the Young Women’s Trust to help more women enter the construction industry by undertaking a construction apprenticeship. By becoming a signatory Balfour Beatty will place gender diversity at the heart of its apprenticeship scheme and seek ways to maximise the number of women who apply.
To create an even more inclusive environment for this future pipeline of female construction workers, Balfour Beatty has also launched a Women in Business network to help the industry retain its talent and progress up the ladder. Currently there are only seven women¹ CEOs amongst the FTSE 100 companies and no female CEOs at any of the UK’s largest construction firms.
Amanda Fisher, Chair of the Balfour Beatty Women in Business network and MD of Balfour Beatty Living Places, said: “Improving the diversity of the people we employ is important to Balfour Beatty. We recognise that a business which fully reflects the society it serves will make us better placed to continue to deliver the most innovative infrastructure for our customers. Signing up to the Young Women’s Trust and launching the Women in Business network are some of a range of initiatives Balfour Beatty has employed to drive diversity within our business and the construction industry as a whole.”
More women than ever now work in the industry but that’s still only 13% of the total workforce² total and its estimated that only 1%³ of those work on actual construction sites. In England, for every female apprentice in the construction sector there are around 56 men⁴. Whilst more women are in senior roles than ever before, having risen by over 100% from 6% in 2005, only 16% of senior roles are held by women⁵. Within Balfour Beatty 21% of senior leadership roles are held by women and 17% of all employees are women. As part of its Build to Last programme, Balfour Beatty is working to increase further the representation of women employees as part of its overall commitment to diversity & inclusion.
Lizzie Wells, Section Engineer at Balfour Beatty who works on the company’s Norwich Northern Distributor Road site, commented: “Girls and young women still don’t consider construction as a possible career path and I do find that people are surprised when I say that I work in the industry because people still think of it as an industry for men. This is a shame as attitudes have come a long way within construction and I find, certainly at Balfour Beatty, that women are as accepted as equal to men.”
Tapping into the talents of women will be fundamental to help the construction industry to address its current skills shortage and future recruitment needs. More than one million extra workers are needed by 2020 to keep up with UK growth forecasts and also build the various projects planned as part of the Government’s industrial strategy from HS2 to Hinkley Point. Creating an industry that is able to recruit, retain and support women to rise up the ranks is therefore crucial.
Young Women’s Trust Chief Executive Dr Carole Easton OBE said: “The under-representation of women in construction hasn’t improved in more than a decade and it won’t change unless businesses are proactive. We are delighted that Balfour Beatty has committed to taking action. The UK desperately needs more construction workers. Meeting that demand means welcoming more women into the sector. ”
More information about the network can be found on our website here.
¹ Daily Telegraph Report, “Who are the 7 women bosses of the ftse 100”
² ONS Oct – Dec 2016 Labour Force Survey
³ Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians stats
⁴ Young Women’s Trust Report, “Making Apprenticeships Work for Young Women”
⁵ Ranstad report, “Women in the UK Construction Industry in 2016”
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Notes to editors:
• Balfour Beatty (www.balfourbeatty.com) is a leading international infrastructure group. With 34,000 employees, we provide innovative and efficient infrastructure that underpins our daily lives, supports communities and enables economic growth. We finance, develop, build and maintain complex infrastructure such as transportation, power and utility systems, social and commercial buildings.
• Balfour Beatty is committed to creating an environment where all our employees can be themselves at work and perform at their best. As a global company, it is critical to our success that our employees are as diverse as the customers and communities we serve. In order to achieve this Balfour Beatty has taken the following action:
o Establishing diversity as a key part of the company’s Build to Last transformation. The diversity and inclusion three-year plan sets out strategic aims, objectives and, more importantly, metrics in support of our endeavours. Overseen by Balfour Beatty Chief Executive Leo Quinn its progress against these metrics is regularly tracked.
o Creating a range of national networks across the company to support BAME, Women and LGBTQ staff in creating a workplace that is more inclusive.
o With the support of its customers, Balfour Beatty is recruiting from a large and more diverse pool of talent. For instance, in collaboration with Network Grid, our Power, Transmission and Distribution division provide opportunities for ex-offenders to get back into employment. Our Rail division support the British Forces Resettlement Services and its careers events, through advising service personnel on careers within the construction industry.
o Working with expert diversity & inclusion focused bodies such as Stonewall and the Youth Women’s Trust to get guidance on how we can better improve our recruitment and workplace culture so that we can recruit and retain a talented and diverse workforce.