Women in the construction sector – how the industry is coming together to recruit and retain women


30th May 2019

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Excellence in the Built Environment announced last month that its seventh inquiry will examine how the recruitment and retention of more women in construction is one of the necessary steps in addressing the industry’s skills needs, particularly post-Brexit.

Industry estimates suggest that construction in the UK will create over 168,000 jobs between 2019-2023. Demand to fill those roles, while large numbers of workers are retiring and while there is uncertainty over Brexit and the numbers of migrant workers available to support the UK workforce, means it is more important than ever to increase diversity to help address the skills shortage.

The Chartered Institute of Building has responded to the APPG’s inquiry with an outline of what the industry is doing to promote diversity and some examples of best practice. However, the CIOB has also noted that it’s important to walk the walk on this issue and that examining good practice and areas for improvement in-house are a must; the Institute cited examples of some progressive steps to support gender equality with the first female CEO taking up her role later this year and the Novus network in Manchester now comprising an all-female committee.

It’s also important to continue making the wider case within the industry so that diversity is consistently encouraged and supported. It’s essential that it’s seen not just as a box ticking exercise but a progressive and positive move which can, among other things, expand the workforce and improve the depth and breadth of skill sets available. As it says in the CIOB response, diversity in the workforce “can often lead to increased earning potential.” A study by McKinsey & Company found a strong relationship between gender diversity and performance, with an increase of 3.5% in earnings before interest and taxes for every 10% increase in gender diversity in the senior executive team (and a 1.4% increase for the board).

Rebecca Thompson FCIOB, a past President of the CIOB and Director of Thompson Heritage Consultancy, said: “I am delighted that this issue is being highlighted as it is something that needs to be addressed to improve diversity and inclusion within the construction workforce and the range of skills and experience available. As we’ve said in the response, it’s a powerful opportunity to advocate equality in the workforce, bringing expertise from other sectors and industries.”

Our full written response can be found on the CIOB policy web site.




Elaine Cooper
+44 (0) 1344 630 744

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