International Women’s Day – March 8 – #BalanceforBetter

Construction sector must do more, but Glenveagh is leading from the front

As a traditionally male dominated industry, it will come as no surprise to hear that the male to female gender ratio in the Irish construction sector is 9:1.

This year the focus for International Women’s Day which takes place on March 8th is Balance for Better. So clearly there is plenty of room for improvement for our industry!

Numerous gender balance studies have shown that diverse workforces create better more productive working environments, develop more innovative ideas and lead to better decision -making.

Talking of innovation, one project recently in the UK showed how new partnerships could help to significantly boost female participation in a construction project.

The partnership between Women into Construction1 and Crossrail2 in London provides an excellent example of how new approaches to fostering and encouraging gender diversity in the workplace can yield dramatic results. As a result of this initiative almost a third of the jobs on this high profile £15bn project have now been filled by women. Interestingly Women into Construction was originally created as part of the London Olympics 2012 employment strategy.

While gender diversity is improving here, it is doing so at a slow pace and we need to attract many more, young female apprentices into construction.

Here at Glenveagh our gender split is 80/20 nearly twice the industry average with females working across all areas of the business including engineering, safety, quality and program management.

Our approach as an Equal Opportunities employer is to conduct a fair recruitment process for both internal and external candidates with all roles advertised internally and applications welcomed from all current suitably qualified employees.

Feedback has been positive. Caroline, a site-based Health & Safety Officer, commented that our recruitment process is very person focused. She believes that the industry has come a long way since she started her career in construction eight years ago, when there were limited welfare facilities for women on site.

At Glenveagh in addition to site welfare facilities, we recently rolled out a suite of benefits which covers paid maternity and paternity leave, along with pension and other benefits which accommodate all our employees at various stages of their careers and with different lifestyle needs.

Recognising that as an industry attracting new young females still needs a lot of work, Glenveagh recently took part in ‘I Wish’ which promotes STEM careers as a viable option for young female school students.

The experiences of Dami a newly hired Engineering Graduate is instructive. She didn’t come from a construction related background and despite her interest in the subject, Construction Studies wasn’t available as a subject in her secondary school. Not surprisingly she found Engineering a tough course at third level, but she persevered and graduated, the only female in her class of 12. Since joining Glenveagh, she says she has felt welcomed on site by the rest of her all male team and feels supported in speaking up and asking questions as she transitions from graduate to working engineer.

These are the kind of positive experiences we want to see much more of at Glenveagh says Chief People Officer Diarmuid Leahy.

“Equal opportunity recruitment, developing an inclusive organisational culture and supporting working employees’ lifestyles needs are just some of the ways we are building equality as we continue to grow and expand Glenveagh.”

 

1 An independent not-for-profit organisation created to recruit women into all areas of construction, from entry level trades through to professional construction placements

2 London’s new Elizabeth Line railway and Europe’s largest infrastructure project

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