Aside from the lack of diversity, from a practical perspective, with one in five workers soon to reach retirement the industry needs to increase its skilled workforce, says BSRIA chief executive Julia Evans.
Women currently make up just 11% of the workforce. Ms Evans argues the industry’s lack of progress towards equality is shameful.
She encourages the sector to start attracting and retaining talented professionals regardless of gender, age or ethnicity (ethnic minorities are also under-represented in construction).
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the number of women who work as roofers, bricklayers and glaziers is currently so low as to be essentially immeasurable.
The government has recognised the lack of available skilled labour and the recently announced BIS funding call, specifically designed to help women progress as engineers, has been welcomed.
The funding will support employer-led training to encourage career conversions and progression in the industry.
This call is in response to a recent report released by BIS, Employer ownership: developing women engineers, identifying that “substantially increasing the number of engineers would help the UK economy […] and the potential to significantly increase the stock of engineers by improving the proportion of women working in engineering jobs”.
Findings in the report, Building the future: women in construction, released by The Smith Institute earlier this year, show that the majority of women aged 25-45 find that attitudes, behaviours and perceptions are the greatest barriers.
Ms Evans urges those in the industry to review their office culture, assess whether they are part of the problem, and make a pledge to address the ongoing issue of inequality in the workforce.