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Construction Inclusion Coalition Steering Group Member Sam Grierson shares how we can inspire inclusion across the industry

To celebrate International Women’s Day, Construction Inclusion Coalition Steering Group Member Sam Grierson shares how we can inspire inclusion across the industry.

 

Reflecting on International Women’s Day, a question that I have been asking myself is, what does “belonging” mean within the construction Industry?

 

In order to “belong”, I believe we still need to challenge the stereotypical ideals of “femininity” and “masculinity” which currently exist and need to be surfaced.

 

I also think that some women may need support in dispelling their own internal barriers which may limit their confidence when considering a job within the sector. Often job descriptions include gender orientated language like ‘competitive’, ‘leader’, and ‘dominate’ and research shows that these are more male orientated terms that may be off putting, subliminally if not directly, to a potential job applicant. Increasingly employers are using phrases like “you may not meet all of the above criteria” which encourages women to consider roles which they may have ruled out of if they were listed as “essential criteria”.

 

It’s a positive step that this is being recognised but changes to the language used in job descriptions will help women feel confident enough to apply for these roles. Putting “belonging” measures like this in place is not only essential for creating a more equitable workplace but also for driving innovation and success in our industry.

 

Inclusion goes beyond simply having a seat at the table; it encompasses feeling valued, respected, and empowered to contribute fully to projects and decision-making processes. For me, the meeting only starts once everyone in the room has had an opportunity to speak, and we may need to change the way that we manage meetings to achieve this. Moving forwards, we should aim to listen to everyone’s voice and value everyone’s opinion in order to create a more inclusive and collaborative environment where diversity can thrive.

 

Inclusion also goes beyond International Women’s Day. It isn’t just a project; it’s my life. Over the last 20 years, I’ve witnessed significant shifts in the representation of women across various fields, but progress in the construction industry can at times feel stalled. As a woman in this industry, I’ve encountered other women facing internal and external barriers, grappling with doubts like, “I can’t do that; I’ve only worked in retail,” or, “I lack three essential criteria.”

 

However, despite these challenges, I remain energised about promoting diversity and inclusion in construction. It’s not about ticking boxes or implementing temporary initiatives; it’s about fundamentally changing the fabric of our industry to ensure that everyone feels valued and included, at every level across the industry.

 

To truly embed the voice of women and inspire inclusion throughout the construction industry, we must confront these barriers head-on and create a culture of allyship, support, empowerment, and opportunity for all. For the Construction Inclusion Coalition, this means facilitating knowledge sharing and networking opportunities, looking at our recruitment and retention approaches, and practices in our organisations – from HR policies, to uniform and PPE design, physical signage within the workplace, the language that we use, working hours and shift patterns. And it’s about actively seeking out and amplifying the voices of women across the sector. Not just on the 8th of March but every day.

 

By creating environments where everyone can belong, and championing diversity and inclusion in construction, we can not only create a more equitable and welcoming workplace but also drive innovation, creativity, and success.

 

Sam Grierson (She/They) is Director of Customer Proposition at Wolseley UK and has been in the construction industry for over ten years. She is a Neurodiversity & LGBTQIA+ advocate and works with the Construction Inclusion Coalition to champion equity, diversity and inclusion for the sector.

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