6 March 2020

NFB reflects on International Women's Day

8 March marks International Women's Day, a day dedicated to celebrating women’s achievements, raising awareness against bias and taking action for equality.

Over the past 40 years, there has been a steady increase in the proportion of women in employment. Today, women make up nearly half of the UK workforce, however, the construction industry paints a very different picture.

In construction, only a small proportion of roles are held by women (15%) and even fewer have the top jobs. Whilst it’s important to appreciate that the industry has changed a lot and has begun to challenge stereotypes and shift perceptions to become more inclusive, it is also important to recognise that there is a lot more work to be done.

Richard Beresford, chief executive of the National Federation of Builders (NFB), said: “We must ensure that women can see themselves working in construction, not only because it’s the right thing to do but because if not, we’re shutting out 50% of the workforce and missing out on amazing talent.

At the NFB, we’ve made this a priority. Our House Builders Association (HBA) board achieved a 50/50 gender balance, we have supported a period dignity campaign and a number of our boards have been led by women.”

Women represent an untapped potential that will help address the skills challenge facing the industry. We are already seeing a positive trend in the number of construction and built environment (CABE) female apprentices and numbers are rapidly increasing - with 630 starts in 16/17 compared to 1,450 starts in 18/19.

The launch of T-levels will also serve to further strengthen the industry and we must not miss the opportunity to raise awareness and market construction as an attractive sector to women and girls.

Kofo Odunuga, policy executive of the NFB, said: “The industry has an obligation and clear mandate for forging an inclusive culture where women can thrive. Women can bring new perspectives, ideas and skills to the workplace and the sector must take full advantage of this potential to ensure that the industry continues to expand and grow.”