Discussing Women in Construction with Premier Guarantee
Three of Premier Guarantee’s employees discuss their experiences as women in construction, changing careers and industry attitudes
This article was adapted from a recent episode of Premier Guarantee’s PG Talks podcast series discussing women in construction. Listen to the full podcast episode here.
Jess Reid began her career on the recruitment side of construction before deciding to enter the fray herself to become an apprentice building control surveyor.
Rosie Makepeace is a Business Developer Manager for the South-East of England, building close relationships with customers ensuring that they always have a trusted point of contact.
Host Kirsty Cruickshank joined the Premier Guarantee marketing team four years ago as a junior and worked her way up to become Digital Marketing Consultant.
Kirsty started the interview by asking Rosie and Jess how they started in the industry
Jess started in construction recruitment, before transitioning to an onsite role- and spoke about how not having any experience or family members in the industry did not hold her back.
“I didn’t have any family members, I guess probably a good place to start- that worked in the industry. So my knowledge of construction as a child was bricklayers, and labourers, and the trades. I ended up in recruitment and I got kind of thrown into recruiting surveyors and project managers- and those sorts of roles which opened my eyes to construction and how varied it was, compared to what my initial thoughts had been.
“I became really passionate about the sector itself, but fell out of love with recruiting. So I thought about what could I do- because I still want to stay in the industry- and decided, well, it’s never too late to career change, retrain, and I applied to be an apprentice building control surveyor and that’s how I’m here today.”
Rosie came to Premier Guarantee after a background in sales and recruitment for IT roles
“I was like a rabbit in headlights. ‘Insurance construction’. And I think, unlike Jess, I had very, very little knowledge around the construction industry. It was quite daunting for me, being so male dominant. But [recruitment] was still very dominant in terms of the men and how the processes work there.”
“So I thought, if I can do recruitment, I can certainly do construction. So I went for it. And, yes, when I spoke with the guys at the interview and did my research, I found myself thinking, yes, I really want to go for this. And, yeah, I’m still here.”
How important do you feel it is for women at any stage in their career to feel that they can contribute and enter the industry?
Rosie: “I think it’s so vital that women know just how much their skills could be so invaluable in the industry that we’re in. It’s so varied, there’s so many elements to construction that you could apply yourself.
“And some of the most amazing people that I’ve met in construction are women, and they’ve just taken the strength and ambition to look at the industry and find where they can navigate themselves and be very, very successful.
Jess: “It’s actually been a lot less daunting than I ever imagined it would be. But I think it’s really important that we do get more women into construction. We’ve got a massive skill shortage, building control, surveying, but also in so many other areas of the construction industry. And to overcome that, or to make good steps forward, we need to be attracting as many people from as many different backgrounds as possible, because a diverse workforce, in my opinion, is also a better workforce.
“I think, as Rosie said, there are so many different roles in the industry that there is something for everyone. And I think women have such a big part to play in that. There’s some fantastic women leading the front, as bricklayers, as in the trades, as electricians, but also as surveyors, as sales, as admin, as project management, that there’s so many places they can put their skills.”
What role do you think men can play, or continue to play in welcoming more women into the industry?
Rosie: “I think men are very important in the industry in welcoming women. I think I’ve seen a lot of sites now and companies that are promoting women on site and in industry, ensuring that they are conscious and welcoming women into the industry. So I think if we carry on practising that, I think it’s only going to get better and better, as we can already see.
“But I still think it’s crucial that we keep pushing that and finding ways of educating and encouraging women into the industry.Companies also have a role to play in encouraging more women to join construction
“Things are changing in a really positive way. So I think that men need to remember that they can play such a big role here and keep doing what they’re doing in terms of being positive and encouraging it. Get involved in lots of different schemes that are going out there. I think companies can get involved. There’s lots of organisations for women in construction now where you can help represent that and it really shows people that you are an employer that wants a diverse workforce and is encouraging it.”
Premier Guarantee prides itself on inclusivity and teamwork. Whether this includes colleagues or customers, it really is a team effort. How have you found your life here, working with Premier Guarantee?
Jess: I only started in September so it’s early days, but it’s probably been above and beyond what I expected. Gender doesn’t come into it, background doesn’t come into it. I’ve been made to feel very welcome. Everybody’s offered support. That’s from the team here.
“They’ve been great, but also going to site and meeting our clients again. I’ve had nothing but positive experience on site. Nobody has mentioned gender or anything like that or treated me any different to how they would treat somebody else. It makes me very proud to be working for this company, but also in the industry.”
Rosie confirmed that she had felt very supported by Premier Guarantee and her industry experiences at large.
“No question has ever been made to feel like it’s a silly question. It’s not until we’re sitting here today that I’ve really quite realised I’ve never been made to feel any type of uncomfortable way being in this industry.
“Naturally, when I first started out meeting with clients, they had maybe never met a woman before in the industry doing what I’m doing. But I can hand on heart say that I have never walked onto a site and felt very uncomfortable or had any rude, stereotypical remarks that you may think might be flying around the industry. If anything, it’s been nicer, I’ve been treated brilliantly and I don’t think that’s special treatment, I just think that that’s actually acceptance of women coming in and I think that’s so important.”
What would you like to see more of in our industry? And are there any aspects where you think we can do better than this?
Rosie: I would love to see more women, of course. I think more knowledge and education around the industry and encouragement of women. And I think that starts from sort of school level, really, as well as college and obviously universities- but I feel that in the education system, construction can sometimes be disregarded for the women. Starting out from those early years would be pivotal to having a larger influx of skills into the construction industry that are women.
“And if you can target people that are interested in changing career, I think we’ll go a long way to having a more diverse workforce, but also bridging that skill shortage,” Jess added.
Do you have any female inspirations or role models in or outside of the industry that just inspire you every day?
Rosie: “People that are wanting to make a change. They’re the ones that inspire me, the ones that aren’t set in settling for what’s always been, but are pushing forward women and men.”
Jess: “Dame Judith Hackett sprung to mind for me, because I think she’s been pivotal and a huge part of regulations within the industry that are changing now and hopefully will change for the better, for the future, for everybody.
“Unfortunately, obviously, Grenfell was a horrific, horrific incident. And unfortunately for us in this industry, sometimes it takes for those kinds of incidents in order for it to change. She’s been a real driving force and I think as a woman in the industry, that’s something to look up to.
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