On International Women’s Day 2018, some of the most influential women in the planning, construction and property industries in Ireland came together in Ballsbridge to push the #BuildingEquality agenda.  Minister of State Mary Mitchell O’Connor gave a rousing opening address and her passion was followed by the insightful Catherine Vaughan, EY’s Global Compliance Leader.

Working closely with members of the development and construction industry, the team here at Property District genuinely aspire to facilitate change and equality so we were delighted to support the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) #BuildingEquality initiative.

Trying to create a culture shift is a monumental undertaking so we strongly urge every designer, builder and construction firm to support it. It is astounding to read some facts, including that women make up just 5.5% of those working in construction in Ireland.

The key driver behind the #Building Equality initiative is that people rarely aspire to something they cannot see.  As a simple starting point, CIF is sharing the stories of women and members of the transgender community working in the industry today in the hope that it will inspire others.

Whether you realise it or not, you have the power to be an inspiring role model to women and girls in the industry. A story can help motivate change and give the industry an opportunity to benefit from their skills in construction.

However, it must start at the beginning and that beginning is with us; the market leaders in and serving the construction profession. More women in construction will directly lead to a more prolific, diverse and competent industry that has traditionally been male dominated. Now, as the tide is starting to turn – albeit painfully slow –  women and girls should be at least considering  the opportunity to move into construction or engineering. It is hoped that this initiative will force a culture shift that will help to drive more enthusiastic women into the construction workforce this year and for many years to come.  We welcome plans to communicate with school students and encourage them to explore STEM subjects, which will open them up to careers and professions within the construction industry.

Identifying key barriers to equality right now and creating a strong strategy to break those down will lessen the chances of girls being dissuaded from working or even considering working in the construction industry. At present many young girls fear entering the industry for many reasons, being self-conscious or nervous of the mainly male led sector which is understandable. Addressing it is not simple, but it does begin with education and public perceptions that hold myths in their minds that should be dispelled. Welcoming more female students into the industry will be the forefront of any construction companies minds as building a brilliant and rewarding career path is imperative.

Construction companies and engineering bodies need to actively adopt a more ‘can do’ attitude by identifying capable young women in schools, offering talks, advice and information on the career prospects that are available. Demonstrating this and sharing knowledge will encourage women into construction and potentially address the deficit of construction professionals that exists today. We know that the industry requires at least 112,000 additional workers to deliver on the population’s housing needs over the next  two to three years – this will be difficult if we are only drawing from 49% of the available talent pool.

The 2018 #Building Equality campaign seeks to change ingrained perceptions of the construction industry and promote equality of opportunity for all. Of course, our hope is that it does this and more.

The ever-popular Lottie Doll is fast becoming the face of the initiative as she works alongside many of the most recognisable brand in Irish construction. (follow the hashtags #lottiedoll for all the latest news and for the latest updates all things Lottie Doll!).  Thank you to Co-Founder Ian Harkin for coming along and sharing the journey so far.

Female contribution is growing across many sectors in Irish culture, from politics/business to sport and technology. Construction however, appears to be a last defender of male-domination in business and this will change in the future.  Emerging technologies and the digitisation of the construction industry are creating new roles; this is a great opportunity to embrace diversity among new hires as Danielle Dy Bunico, Founder and CEO of US-based VIATechnik artfully highlighted.

 

By Carol Tallon, Strategic Planning Director and MPRII at PropertyDistrict.ie, Ireland’s only PR & Communications agency working exclusively with members of the planning, construction and property industries. Mentors to the emerging Proptech sector.