Gapsquare Blog

What do Women (in the Construction Industry) Want? Hint. It's not a gym membership

Posted by Hazel Lush on 27-Nov-2017 16:20:13

Opportunities for flexible working, promotions to managerial positions and access to mentors are the key to recruiting and keeping female employees in the construction industry according to Gapsquare's recent research.

Building: A Better Workforce, a new report based on research conducted by Gapsquare, Women in Property SW and Rosemont Partnership has uncovered some key actions for mending the leaky pipeline of female workers in the construction industry. As a growing industry, expected to increase its female workforce to a quarter of the workforce as a whole, it is time to develop how we approach the recruitment and retention of female talent. This report gains insights into the experiences and needs of employees in the construction industry and shows us that, as Rachel Bell Chairman of Women in Property South West noted "the industry needs to do more to encourage women to make it their career choice".

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What's the issue?

"The Office of National Statistics states that women are paid less than men in four measurable categories in the industry, ranging from operatives through to management, with a pay gap of building trades supervisors of 45.4%, one of the highest in employment. It is vital that this gap is addressed to build a sustainable workforce for the future." - Dr Zara Nanu - CEO Gapsquare

The report revealed that over 30% of those questioned would leave their posts within two years, citing lack of flexible work conditions as a key motivator. When women do remain, they find themselves reaching a glass ceiling. 47.7% of those surveyed stated that they had not been promoted even once in their current role and women made up only 12.6% of the respondents immediate managers. In short, in order to attract and retain women in the industry, we have a few lessons to learn.

In the survey, which included the views of over 100 women and men in the industry, issues such as access to flexible working hours, opportunities for promotion and active mentorship were revealed as crucial to mending the broken pipeline.

Samantha Organ: Senior lecturer in Building Surveying, University of the West England claimed that this was a important issue facing her students as they rejoined the industry: “I have some Masters students who are very capable but are worried about going back into industry because of the lack of work-life balance and that’s a shame as these are talented and able individuals.”


The Way Forward

As companies scramble to hire the best in an increasingly challenging employment market, there are also pressures to adhere to the UK gender pay gap regulations, which explore the positions, progression and pay of women and men in your workplace. There has probably never been a better time to accomodate a more diverse workforce than now.

This report does one very useful thing, it gives you a general insight into what would motivate a female employee to join and stay on your team. As construction jobs appeal to a more diverse range of candidates, what are the right steps to take to support potential and current employees. At Gapsquare we would say your first step is understanding the specific issues your company faces by analysing your HR data and developing an accurate narrative for action around diversity. Before you move forward, be sure that you know how far you've come and which road to take to avoid investing time and money in measures that aren't right for your company.


In the meantime, Building: A Better Workforce shows us that businesses in the industry have some general things to be working on to make them stand out as a fantastic employer to current and future teams:

  • Increase flexible working and improve the culture around taking it up
  • Encourage, develop and make way for women in management positions
  • Make time for mentorship - guidance and support can help your staff navigate challenges they face in progressing and allow them to realise their potential
  • Develop a clear career path and defined progression routes (including after maternity/paternity breaks), have clear, defined progression routes

It's a no brainer, and considering that both men and women took part in this survey, it's safe to say that it's good for everyone, women and men on your teams, and the company as a whole. In general it is time for the relationship between construction and diversity to change for the better. 

"The benefits are tangible for the employer in being able to attract and retain high quality, committed and happy employees" says Lucy Holt: Associate Director, Mace, Seconded to EDF Energy

A great deal will change for the construction industry in the next few years and one thing is obvious, we need our teams to be the best they can be going forward. Spending time recruiting and training new people should mean developing a team that will weather the storm and still be there when the sun comes out again. A diverse team, given opportunities that allow them to work at their best, is an essential feature of a company that comes out on top.

Need to tackle your Gender Pay Gap Analysis fast? Try - Your leading provider of gender pay analysis or contact us at

Read the full report, Building: A Better Workforce, through the link below:


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Tags: construction industry, women in property, research