In April, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Excellence in the Built Environment issued a call for written evidence in support of its Inquiry into How the recruitment and retention of more women could be achieved within the construction industry.
Partnerships made a comprehensive submission to the Inquiry, highlighting best practice, industry-leading initiatives and our successes to date: for example, 26% of our employees are women compared to an industry average of 12.8%.
The APPG was impressed with our submission and invited us to give oral evidence at a session in Portcullis House, Westminster – one of only eight companies to be given the chance. We were able to share our approach with leading Parliamentarians, including both MPs and members of the House of Lords.
Appearing alongside other leaders in our sector, Grace Williams (Head of Comms) and Joanna Farnsworth (Commercial Manager, London) first briefed the APPG members on Partnerships’ response to the recruitment challenge and then took questions. They both made the case for creating a diverse and balanced working environment, where people are recognised for their talents regardless of gender. They explained the steps we have taken, including profiling of women in senior roles, which has helped to increase their visibility among those thinking of a career in construction, and initiatives such as Agile Working.
Joanna outlined her belief that on-site teams should reflect the community around them, leading to a diversity of skills and ideas, ensuring that as an industry we are not just building for the people who dominate senior roles in the sector.
Grace spoke of her personal experience and of the great support for women in the workplace that comes directly from the top – namely CEO Stephen Teagle. She told the APPG that he had always recognised the need to allow flexibility in working hours and home working to make childcare that bit easier. Grace stated that without that support she would not have the career she does now. Members of the APPG praised this culture at Partnerships and noted that it had led to a step change in recruitment of women into the business.
The entire panel acknowledge that collaboration right across the sector, and with government, is the only way to achieve the goal of recruiting and retaining more women in construction.
The contributions the business has made, both in our written submission and then at the evidence session, have positioned us as industry leaders in the field with Parliamentarians, with APPG Chair Eddie Hughes MP describing those giving evidence as “the Premier League of construction.”
The Group will now consider all the evidence received, before publishing its recommendations later this year. This was a great opportunity to influence what will be a significant report.