Despite a growing skills shortage, a new report by HR specialist Randstad has revealed that one in four women face discrimination in the construction industry.
In this TUD Plus Briefing, Randstad’s national director for diversity inclusion Kerry McQuillan discusses the findings, what’s changed since its 2019 survey, and what can be done to make the industry more diverse and equal.
McQuillan said that common forms of discrimination highlighted by the report included inappropriate comments or behaviour from male colleagues, women feeling excluded from male conversations or social events, and being passed over for particular work or projects.
“Even though we found that there were some positives that actually came from the report, these are things that are still quite prevalent from the report that we had in 2019,” she said.
McQuillan said that even though construction was currently a male-dominated industry, the level of such gender discrimination was a lot higher than in other industries.
“What's promising is that more and more this is being spoken about and obviously being put in a spotlight, which is helping to sort of move the dial, but the dial isn’t moving quick enough,” she said.
McQuillan’s comments were echoed at the Property Council of Australia’s annual Women in Property event on Monday.
PCA NSW deputy executive director Lauren Conceicao told The Urban Developer that diversity was more important than ever—particularly to meet the acute labour and skill shortages in the construction sector.
“One in four people in NSW draw their wage from the property industry. It’s a significant employer and it has a significant workforce, and we need to ensure that women are given the opportunity to participate in that.
“It’s nuanced, [and] it is about flexibility—having female toilets on a construction site, which does not happen in a lot of cases. It’s about creating an environment in a traditionally male-dominated sector that women want to work in.”
McQuillan said given the industry’s issues with skills shortages, increasing diversity made sense as part of solving the crisis.
“It’s not just necessarily having women on the stop and go signs … but actually having more women in carpenter roles, as joiners, electricians, those sorts of things,” she said.
“The more visible women are, then the more attractive the industry becomes not just for women to come into, but for men as well.”