Organisational Cultures: Progression and Retention Barriers to Women in the UK Construction Industry

By Lisa Worrall, Katy Harris, Andrew Thomas, Roy Stewart, Steve Jessop, Peter McDermott and Andrew Platten.

Published by The Diversity Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The UK construction industry employs over two million people and is the country’s top employer. However, at present the UK is facing a massive shortfall of available skilled workers and this shortage is predicted to continue for the foreseeable future (ConstructionSkills, 2008). Within this commercial climate, the numbers of women employees has remained relatively unchanged for the past decade and women consist of just 10.1 per cent of the available workforce. This lack of diversity serves to both limit the availability of skilled talent that can be drawn upon and further exacerbates the current skills gap. Research into the issues surrounding organisational cultures and their impact upon the successful entry, retention and progression of women into the sector is limited. The Women and Work Sector Pathways Initiative (W&WSPI) project, funded by ConstructionSkills (2008), is providing a proactive approach to aiding in the progression and retention of women into the sector alongside analysing the role of organisational cultures and their impact upon preventing women from entering the construction industry. Findings gathered from a series of focus groups and semi-structured questionnaires are analysed and discussed within this paper. These findings have led to the development of a framework of recommendations that serve to both inform current project strategy and highlight areas of future research.

Keywords: Women, Construction Industry, Organisational Cultures, Employment, Discrimination

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp.31-40. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 612.683KB).

Dr. Lisa Worrall

Research Fellow, Centre for Construction Innovation, School of the Built Environment, University of Salford, Salford, UK

Dr. Lisa Worrall is a Research Fellow for the Centre for Construction Innovation (CCI) at the University of Salford. Lisa’s activities and interests include e-learning and metacognition and Equality and Diversity policies and practices. Her current work incorporates the training and up-skilling of women using action learning to facilitate their proactive entry, retention and progression within the UK construction industry.

Katy Harris

Research Fellow, Centre for Construction Innovation, School of the Built Environment, University of Salford, Salford, UK

Katy Harris is a Research Fellow for the Centre for Construction Innovation (CCI), at the University of Salford. Katy works across the North West region on activities to facilitate knowledge transfer between construction companies and academia using Action Learning. Katy’s current main research interests lie with business improvement and SMEs as well as the issue of attracting and retaining more women in the industry.

Prof. Andrew Thomas

Chief Executive, Centre for Construction Innovation, School of the Built Environment, University of Salford, Salford, UK

Professor Andrew Thomas is Acting Associate Head of Academic Enterprise, School of the Built Environment at University of Salford and the Chief Executive for the Centre for Construction Innovation (CCI). Professor Thomas’ visionary approach supports both clients and supply organisations in rising to the challenges emerging from modern methods of construction, sustainable development and communities and Equality and Diversity policies and practices.

Roy Stewart

General Manager, Women & Work Sector Pathways Initiative, Centre for Construction Innovation, University of Salford, Salford, UK

Roy is the General Manager of the Women & Work Sector Pathways Initiative project and works in the Centre for Construction Innovation (CCI) at the University of Salford. Roy possesses a wealth of knowledge and expertise in the both the construction industry and academia and has an ongoing interest and passion in further advancing Equality and Diversity policies and practices within the industry sector.

Steve Jessop

Associate Director of Industry, Centre for Construction Innovation, School of the Built Environment, University of Salford, UK

Steve is Associate Director for Industry at CCI and has Steve has led the development of long term contracts with the Regional Centre of Excellence, Regional Development Agency and Government Departments including the DTI, OGC and DCLG. Steve is best value procurement advisor to several local authorities within the region and continues to mentor best practice within numerous construction organisations.

Prof. Peter McDermott

Associate Director of Research, Centre for Construction Innovation, University of Salford, Salford, UK

Professor Peter McDermott is the Associate Director of Research in the Centre for Construction Innovation (CCI) at the University of Salford. Peter manages research contracts and doctoral studies concerning strategic procurement supply chains, construction industry development and Equality & Diversity policies and practices.

Andrew Platten

Head of Constructing the Future & Visiting Professor, Elevate East Lancashire & University of Salford, UK

Dr. Andrew Platten leads the Constructing the Future (CTF) initiative with Elevate the housing market renewal pathfinder. CTF are developing procurement and performance systems to aid local developers and their supply chains to increase benefit and diversity in the construction work force in East Lancashire.

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