Almost a third of women are afraid of sexism holding them back from pursuing senior roles in construction, despite an optimistic outlook about the gender pay gap figures across the sector, according to new research from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
A OnePoll survey commissioned by the RICS found that businesses need to do more to tackle gender inequality and sexism in the industry with 30% of women citing fears of sexism as holding them back from pursuing senior roles in construction and 38% of men believing their skills are better suited to the sector than women.
Workers want organisations to do more, with nearly 39% believing companies are not doing enough to attract females into the sector and 42% believing companies need to invest more in training their existing female employees. Equally, those in the sector want to see businesses investing in the future pipeline of talent to build a diverse workforce, with 40% recognising that companies need to invest more in encouraging young girls to pursue a career in construction, so that more women enter the profession.
However, the sector remains optimistic about closing the gender pay gap, with 46% of construction workers saying the gap will be less than 15% by April 2018 and 12% predicting that there will be no gender pay gap at all by this date. This positive sentiment is markedly absent in the nation’s capital, with Londoners in the construction sector predicting an average pay gap of 21%.
“Although it’s great to see the sector expects the gender pay gap to be lower than the national average, today’s findings highlight that achieving gender equality in the construction sector requires significant commitment from organisations,” said Sean Tompkins, RICS chief executive officer.
“Encouragingly, there is a collective agreement from over a third of both men and women across the industry that companies are not doing enough to attract females into the sector. The findings reveal that it is primarily the responsibility of individual organisations, to invest in schemes and nurture more inclusive cultures that support women to hold more senior roles in the construction industry.
“People often tackle diversity from the perspective that it is an issue to be addressed. RICS believes it should be approached from the other way around; diversity and an inclusive culture where you feel entirely comfortable being yourself in the workplace. This must be embedded as part of your business strategy and DNA because you simply cannot afford to not have a diverse workforce today and for the future. Increasingly, clients will expect it and to win the war for talent, you will need a diversity of visible role models.
“In addition to tackling gender stereotyping and investing in training to upskill female colleagues, our findings confirm that flexible working is key, with over a third of women identifying more flexible hours as a means to encourage them to stay in the sector.
“RICS’s Inclusion and Diversity conference last month focused on the importance of building a diverse workforce and some of the steps that businesses can take. We also set up the RICS Inclusive Employer Quality Mark (IEQM) to set an example to organisations within our industry and have already seen 150 organisations sign up and learn from each other since its launch in June 2015.”