As BAM celebrates International Women’s Day, Adam Harding, a member of BAM’s Diversity Steering Group, encourages women to think about a career in construction.

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is: a better balance, a better world. The same applies to the construction industry. And the same applies to BAM. We want a better balance in our company, because we want to be better equipped to meet the challenges ahead in society and to design, build and manage sustainable buildings that will serve people’s needs in the future.

Within the construction and property services industry, the proportion of women - at about 14% - is far too low. There is still a view among some parents, teachers and young women themselves that construction is not a suitable nor an attractive career path for a woman. It’s a view that is way, way, behind the times.

If the construction industry wants to thrive into the future, we have to work harder to persuade women to bring their attributes and abilities to our industry.

Let’s start with the business case. Construction is facing a massive skills shortage in the next few years.  According to a report published by Arcadis in February 2019, the UK construction industry will need to recruit over 400,000 people each year until 2021.That’s equivalent to one person every 77 seconds! Why would we try to recruit for these jobs from only half the workforce?

On a macro level, research by McKinsey, PWC and others show that companies with a gender balance are more financially successful. They manage risk better and have a happier and healthier workforces.

If you are a woman, starting out on your career, or perhaps wanting a career change, or returning to work after a break, you might ask: “Isn’t it all muddy boots, bad language and long days out on cold building sites?” But it’s not like that at all. Nowadays, we are becoming highly digitised. Your main piece of equipment is likely to be an iPad .
The old fashioned image of building sites is long gone. Companies like BAM have done lots of work to create respectful environments where a person’s gender, race and ethnicity is irrelevant. So-called banter based on these attributes is simply not tolerated.  We are becoming better at the way we recruit, using software to ensure we use gender neutral language to help us attract the widest pool of candidates.  We’ve been training our managers in unconscious bias to remove any barriers to appointment and progression.  And we realise that we have to offer more flexible working options because people of both genders want a better work life balance, and because, when you enable a better balance, employees are more engaged and ultimately productivity increases.

The essential attributes for success in our industry is to be someone who likes working with other people in a team to get things done.  And the things we get done, - creating buildings and facilities - make a positive difference to people’s lives. Our teams get a fantastic mix of experience; interacting with a wide variety of people, and collaborating and learning from each other in a team environment.

There are few industries where you can say that if you are talented and hardworking you can not only progress within the industry, but actually change people’s lives positively while doing so!

BAM recognises that a diverse workforce makes so much sense.  We want to harness the creativity we can achieve with different ideas and views in our business….a balanced business is a better one.!

As a father of three daughters, I would be happy if they followed me into this industry one day.  And if you know any women wanting to start out on a new career path, I hope that on this International Women’s Day you’ll persuade them to seek out a career in construction.

About the author

Adam Harding

Central Regional Director - BAM Construction

Adam was appointed to the board of BAM Construction in 2015 as Regional Director for the South East, responsible for all construction operations in the region.

Adam started his career at BAM in 1994  as a Site Engineer, winning a  Site Engineer of the Year Award in 1997. He then progressed to Project Manager, overseeing projects in Oxford, Maidenhead, Watford & Milton Keynes. In 2011 he won Gold at the  Construction Manager of the Year Award for successfully delivering West Herts College Hempstead Road Campus, Watford. And a year later, he became Construction Director.

He is a member of the Chartered Institute Of Builders.

"I’m proud to be leading BAM Construction in the South East.  We are part of an exciting  industry that makes a huge difference to the quality of people’s lives and improves the communities we live in. For me it’s all about people, teams and strong relationships, whether we are delivering outstanding medical facilities  such as the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, or  improving schools , or  constructing new station facilities, I want our people to enjoy their work and our clients to enjoy working with us."

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