Diversity & Inclusion

Tackling construction’s poor performance on gender

A group of senior executives from the construction industry have launched a new campaign to address the sector’s appalling track record on gender.

Despite being a key part of the UK economy, contributing 6% of GDP and employing over 2 million people, the construction industry seems to be stuck in the 1950s when it comes to gender diversity – only 15% of the workforce are women, only 15% of executive and 22% of all board members are women, and the gender pay gap in construction is 20%.

Meaningful is pleased to have been invited to launch The Rebuild Project, a campaign aiming to engage and energise government and procurers to improve ‘the 3Rs’ for women in construction:

  • Representation: increasing the % of women joining the industry at all levels
  • Recognition: improving the % of women holding board-level and senior positions
  • Remuneration: closing the gender pay gap by addressing pay differentials

The campaign believes that the £600bn ‘wall of money’ that the government has earmarked for UK construction and infrastructure investment and recovery represents an important opportunity to drive industry reform through the buying actions of the public sector, and argues that gender will remain a ‘box ticking’ exercise without the intervention of government and procurers.

One of the best ways Government can show its commitment to doing things better is by using public sector buying power to help improve diversity and inclusion. Equality is already a key tenet of the social value agenda, so we want to see the Government and public sector procurers really putting it into practice by helping contractors understand the value of diversity and guiding them towards best practice.

Anne Mcnamara, one of the co-founders of The Rebuild Project

The theme of International Women’s Day 2021 is ‘Choose to Challenge’ and we chose this day to launch a challenge to UK Construction Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan, urging her to use the Government’s buying power to help address inequality in the industry.

As part of the campaign, a petition was set up and we prepared letters to be sent directly to key industry stakeholders. The launch announcement was covered by leading industry magazines including Building, Property Week and New Civil Engineer.  

The campaign sets out some ambitious targets for the construction industry to aim for, calling for companies that generate 50% or more of their revenue from the public sector to ensure they have:

  • 50% women in executive positions by 2030
  • 30% women in executive roles on top 10 contractor boards by 2025
  • 50% women in entry level roles by 2025
  • Zero gender pay gap by 2035 – starting with equal pay for equal work!

The project believes these targets are not only achievable, but essential if construction is to be a modern, world-leading industry, rather than lagging behind. It’s clear that construction companies cannot stay saddled with outdated values if they want to attract and retain the best talent and win more business, but perhaps most importantly – it’s 2021, not the 1950s, and a change in the industry’s attitudes towards gender equality is long overdue.

To learn more about The Rebuild Project:

  • Watch the campaign video – below
  • Visit The Rebuild Project website
  • Show your support by signing the petition
  • Follow the campaign on Twitter and LinkedIn