In the lead-up to International Women’s Day this week (8 March) it has been encouraging to see a number of articles on diversity appearing in Property Week, including the recent Best Places to Work in Property 2018 report.

Rhonda curliss linesight

Rhonda Curliss, group CCO, Linesight

Diversity is needed in the construction sector. According to the Construction Industry Council’s 2016 ‘A Blueprint for Change’ report, women make up only 14% of the workforce, up from 13.5% in 2009, which is not impressive progress.

Having said that, the gender mix in construction varies across age groups and the report shows a notable increase in the percentage of women aged 25 and under. That is potentially a sign of progress, but it will take sustained effort not only to recruit more women but to retain them in senior leadership positions.

My background spans the property and construction industry, and in the world of architecture and design there is a much greater gender balance, perhaps even edging into a female majority; the same cannot typically be said of the quantity surveying or project management sectors.

Construction woman

Women make up only 14% of the construction workforce

Source: Shutterstock/hxdyl

The best talent should move forward in the industry regardless of gender. However, we also need to recognise that in general the industry needs more women in leadership and professional roles. We are committed to engaging the female population in our key markets to assist with this movement. Clearly there is a moral imperative at work here, but increasing diversity – and not just in terms of gender – is also a key business objective.

In order to attract women to construction, we must first educate them in our craft and advise them of the benefits of a career within our industry. Educating secondary school students and their parents on the merits of working in the sector and the opportunities that exist is vital to plug the huge gap in knowledge here.

Third-level incentive programmes are also extremely important, as are the encouragement of student project sponsorship and the expansion of internships.

At Linesight, we understand that creating an industry that is welcoming to women – and other under-represented groups – is not just the right thing to do, it is business critical.