With the CIF’s third International Women’s Day event on the horizon, I would like to take this opportunity to urge all of my colleagues throughout the industry, both male and female, but particularly the men, to get behind the CIF’s #BuildingEquality campaign for greater diversity within the construction sector and join us to celebrate on Friday 8th March 2019.
While construction has traditionally been a male-dominated industry, it is time to change and not because it currently suits due to a skills shortage but because it is the right thing to do. Promoting greater diversity is the right thing to do for efficiency, for creativity, for innovation and for a wider perspective.
We cannot afford to lag behind other industries any longer. We must look to best practice and delve deeper into the barriers to entry or indeed retention issues, which have affected or continue to affect our potential or actual female colleagues for far too long.
In a time when the future of the industry looks resoundingly positive and we are working to attract talent with new and innovative work practices, a very basic premise which must not be ignored is our need to, in a sense retro-fit the workplace diversity and inclusion policy needs of all of our workforce, paying particularly attention to minority groups like women.
The reality of the skills shortage we are now experiencing is that in the short-term we need to recruit qualified women from Ireland, internationally and the Diaspora for particular roles in the industry and into management in our companies.
And in the medium to long-term, we need to recruit more women generally, because if we don’t millennials, both male and female, who do not just want diversity in the workplace but have come to expect it, will not enter the industry and those who do will not stay.
Improving diversity within the industry is not only a way to increase the available talent pool, it is also widely recognised that a more diverse workforce produces better outcomes across the board, particularly when it comes to working on major team projects.
And when we do get people in, we have got to care for them. Great improvements have been made in health and safety over the years and similar progress must be made with site welfare facilities and working conditions in general. Facilities should be modern and working conditions must reflect 21st century standards and expectations for both male and female workers.
Measures to tackle the long work hours and travel distances, which is often a feature of work in the construction industry must also be tackled, to better the well-being of workers of all genders.
Later this year, the CIF will be launching a Diversity and Inclusion mark, whereby member companies will sign up to a charter and commit to making real progress throughout their organisations in this regard.
We must move the industry towards greater diversity and inclusion for all. We must Build Equality to ensure that everyone has the same opportunity to enter and build a sustainable career in construction. If we fail, we will never know the talent, the expertise and the passion, which may be slipping through our fingers, or simply passing us by not considering for a moment that the construction industry has anything of value to offer them.
For more information on the CIF’s #BuildingEquality campaign please visit www.cif.ie/buildingequality