Our Women in VGC network launched on International Women’s Day.
The meeting, at Cardinal House, saw an excellent turnout of VGC women, with a number of male supporters.
Everyone has a voice
In his welcome, MD Laurence Mckidd stated that diversity and ethical behaviour are part of being a fair and reasonable business. Everyone has a voice in VGC, and is encouraged to use it. He has an open door policy, and everyone can influence and change things.
Some people are more accepting of change than others, however, changes to drive gender parity have the support of VGC’s senior directors, as well as a range of industry leaders.
Support and encourage one another
Ciara Pryce, group services director, pointed out that women sometimes doubt their own abilities and need encouragement. The Women in VGC network will support and encourage all VGC’s women to achieve their potential. She thanked the men who had attended – changing the culture across the construction industry will need everyone’s support.
Ciara and Kimberley McGinty, women in construction champion, delivered a presentation on women in construction and what VGC is doing to support women into our industry and in our company.
Some of the key points from the presentation:
The statistics prove that women are not proportionally represented in our industry. Companies that are more diverse outperform competitors that are less diverse. With a growing skills shortage, it makes sound commercial sense to encourage women into careers in construction, and to support those who are here.
We are in a male-dominated industry. It can be intimidating to be the only woman on site. There are also many sites that lack appropriate facilities for women.
The language of our industry doesn’t help – job titles like ‘foreman’ and ‘banksman’ contribute to perceptions of what roles are ‘appropriate’ for women. While site behaviour has improved, women often have to endure inappropriate comments. These may be described as ‘banter’, but there is a difference between a laugh between colleagues, which is great, and comments that belittle women.
However, it is pleasing that clients are increasingly asking for the supply chain to show what they are doing in terms of equality, diversity and inclusion.
VGC is a member of
- Women into Construction
- NAWIC (National Association of Women in Construction)
- Construction News Inspire Me campaign – of which we are an official supporter.
We are running a number of campaigns to encourage people to consider careers in the industry, including
- schools workshops
- partnership with JobCentrePlus
- graduate and undergraduate schemes
- BuildForce mentoring for ex-miltary personnel.
In addition, unconscious bias training is planned for the next board meeting. We have five trained fairness, inclusion and respect ambassadors, and we are reviewing our recruitment processes. Our team of five men and five women will take part in the Big Rail Diversity Challenge in June.
The Women in VGC network is another key step
We will set up a mentoring programme, a network newsletter, and site visits to women on site who weren’t able to travel to this launch meeting. We’re encouraging all our women to join our Women in VGC network Facebook group, too.
Anyone with ideas for Women in VGC is encouraged to get in touch with Kim.