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International Women’s Day Case Study: Jessica Cook – Advocating for women in construction and inspiring inclusion

Jessica Cook is the Strategic Marketing Director within the Climate Management Solutions business unit of Genuit Group, for the brands Nuaire and Domus Ventilation, in South Wales.

 

Jessica has worked in traditionally male dominated industries for 17 years, within the aerospace and safety & survival manufacturing sector before joining Nuaire in 2021. In 2023 Jessica was appointed to the Nuaire board, the first woman to do so in ten years.

 

Moving from an industry perceived as tough by many and populated by ex-forces personnel, Jessica was surprised to find the construction sector considerably less receptive to women in the workforce. Although Jessica recognises change is happening to combat gender imbalance and bias in the industry, she says it is slow progress nothing that “at a recent Women in Construction event I attended, people were surprised to hear I am on the board of Nuaire.”

 

“Stories I was hearing from women at the event were that time and again they were being overlooked and told they need to toughen up, be stronger, be less emotional. In their words, be a stereotypical man.”

 

For Jessica, whilst the confrontational approach works for some, she has found that by creating a supportive environment, which encourages people, achieves the desired outcome.  “In this industry, being nice to people can be seen as a weakness. I’ve had to battle with that and prove that being ‘nice’ delivers results. You can be a compassionate person with high emotional intelligence, and still be a leader who is resilient”.

 

She has found that her approach has had a positive impact on the working environment. In the words of Jessica, she’s noted that “inclusion is fundamentally important to me as not only am I a woman working in a male-dominated industry, but I am a multicultural woman: my dad was from India and my mum is Welsh. I understood the importance of diversity very early on.”

 

“This has driven me to be part of the Genuit Culture Team and the Diversity and Inclusivity team, where we have been looking at what behaviours are necessary to make for a great workplace where everyone can flourish.”

 

“Behaviours like understanding and respecting our unique differences and through our commitment to doing the right thing, is integral to this.”

 

“Having strong leadership, that is committed to driving change through the business is making a big difference. The aim is to change the industry for the better, where respect is paramount.”

 

What final words of inspiration would Jessica offer to fellow women in construction? “Be yourself and believe in yourself. Don’t settle for second best. Find that one person who believes in you, for you and allows you to love what you do. Then be that one person to somebody else. Only then we can affect change together.”

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