Gender Pay Gap poll shows companies are struggling to meet compliance deadlines
MEET THE WOMEN AT HOMES ENGLAND
Demolishing Gender Imbalance within the Construction Industry
WILLMOTT DIXON LANDS SECOND WINCHESTER PROJECT
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH SIAN ASTLEY LADY-BUILDER AND RENOVATOR FOR THE HOMEBUILDING & RENOVATING SHOW
JESSICA HICKMAN, THE BULLYOLOGIST, EXPLAINS HOW WORKPLACE ADVERSITY POSITIVELY SHAPED HER FUTURE
The Digital Railway Programme: Bryony Goldsmith
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Contents June 2019
Gender Pay Gap poll shows companies struggling to meet deadlines
Women In Construction UK Magazine meet the women at Homes England
Cultural landmark wins prestigious award in Wells-next-the-Sea
100 years of safety remembered and celebrated
Opinion Piece - Divisional Director Architect Rachel Bell
Jessica Hickman, the Bullyologist, discusses adversity
Women In Construction UK Magazine speak with Chandni Vora
The Digital Railway Programme: Bryony Goldsmith
An interview with Sian Astley - Lady-builder and Renovator
Kate Francis - A day in the life of a Bid Manager
The industry needs to â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;normaliseâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; conversation about mental health
Dr. Jenni Barrett discusses gender equity in the construction industry
Willmott Dixon lands second Winchester project
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Women in Construction UK Magazine - June 2019 03
Fewer than one in ten engineering construction employers think new technologies will lead to job losses Technological change is more likely to increase the headcount of the engineering construction industry (ECI) workforce than reduce it, according to new research published today. A new report into the impact of technological change on the ECI, published by industry skills body the ECITB, surveyed more than 800 employers in this vital sector of the UK economy. Twice as many employers said new
and emerging technologies – such as automation and artificial intelligence - will see their workforce grow (20%) over the next three years compared to those who think it will shrink (9%), with the majority citing improved efficiency (81%) and precision (65%) and new business opportunities (55%) as likely benefits. However, employers also face major challenges to harnessing new technologies and processes, including time (34%) and resource (30%) constraints and a lack of required skills among the existing workforce (19%).
Key findings Industry employers on technological change in their business: • 81% of businesses expect new technology to improve efficiency. • 65% of businesses expect improved precision. • 55% expect new business opportunities compared with only 4% who expect reduced business opportunities. • 42% of employers already use digital technologies, such as Big Data, Augmented Reality or Virtual Reality. • 15% of industry employers use low carbon technologies. On the impact on job roles: • 9% of surveyed employers believe that technology will reduce their headcount whereas 20% predict their workforce will grow as a result of technological change in the industry. • 62% expect technological change will see more demand for engineering-related technicians • 59% expect to see more demand for engineering and science professionals • 54% expect greater demand for skilled mechanical, electrical, instrumentation and electronic trades. On challenges in adopting new technologies:
Gender Pay Gap poll shows companies are struggling to meet compliance deadlines Despite gender pay gap reporting being in its second year, over a fifth of people (21%) say their company struggled to file the mandatory report, due last Friday. An MHR Analytics Twitter poll of 1000 people aged 25 to 54 revealed a further 38% are still unclear about their organisation’s gender pay gap reporting. Employers of more than 250 people had until midnight on 5 April to file pay comparison data, with BBC reports showing hundreds of firms did so in the last 36 hours before the deadline. With the addition of ethnicity pay gap reporting on the horizon, the compliance burden is growing for companies without adequate reporting tools in place, says Laura Timms, product strategy manager at MHR Analytics. “This legislation can be a significant drain on time and resources, particularly when added to all the other compliance obligations
for HR, payroll and finance teams,” says Timms. “This year’s data shows pay discrepancy has increased in many companies. Narrowing this gap to meet government targets will require proper data analysis. Employers will need to assess the complex underlying factors behind their pay gaps and make evidence-based plans to address them.” “This won’t be a quick fix, as some reports even showed errors in their reporting, indicating the need for better accuracy too. Manually analysing employee payroll data can be an extremely tedious process involving the management of multiple spreadsheets.” “Pay gap reporting software speeds up the process drastically and eliminates manual errors. These tools also help companies understand how their pay gap fluctuates across different locations, departments and job roles, providing sound evidence on which to base their plans to narrow pay gaps.”
04 Women in Construction UK Magazine - June 2019
• 34% said lack of time and 30% lack of resources were the biggest challenges in adopting new technologies. • 19% of employers said their workforce lacks the skills to adopt new technologies • 16% of companies believe training courses are not at the cutting edge of industry needs • 14% feel there is a lack of readily available training courses. • 24% of employees see no challenges in adopting new technologies • A significant minority (20%) claim new technology is not immediately relevant to their business. The ECITB’s report on ‘The impact of technological change on the Engineering Construction Industry’ is part of a two part study being published by ECITB. The findings are based on fieldwork conducted by Pye Tait Consulting between July and October 2018, including a telephone survey of more than 800 employers. The first report, ‘The Engineering Construction Industry Labour Market Outlook’ study explored the challenges faced by industry, identifying a growing skill gaps where employers struggle to recruit candidates with the right skills and experience.
CONSTRUCTION EARNINGS FALL 5.5% IN MAY Weekly earnings for tradespeople in the construction sector decreased last month, according to latest figures released by Hudson Contract. Analysis of May payroll data for more than 2,200 construction companies in England and Wales reveals a 5.5 per cent fall to an average of £836. The North East saw the largest decline with average weekly earnings down 8.4 per cent to £700, followed by the South West, down 6.5 per cent to £736, and the East Midlands, down 6.1 per cent to £847.
and 1.1 per cent to £853 respectively. The decline in weekly earnings is in line with the subdued construction activity reported by purchasing managers in recent months, which has been attributed to Brexit-related delays in decision making by businesses. Hudson Contract delivers the most accurate indication of sub-contractor pay trends across the construction industry, publishing the average pay for a spectrum of 17 different trades split across 10 regions in England and Wales.
Year-on-year earnings fell by an average of 1.2 per cent with the North East again witnessing the biggest drop, down 8.7 per cent.
Ian Anfield, managing director at Hudson Contract, said: “Some clients are saying there is less work in the pipeline, which is allowing them to take a more controlled approach to ongoing projects.
The North West and London were the only regions to enjoy an increase over the last 12 months, up 6.4 per cent to £798
“Consequently, freelance tradespeople are doing fewer hours and this is being reflected in their weekly earnings.
“There is little doubt that Brexit uncertainty is causing some businesses to hold back on new investment. “The weak pound, a sign of this uncertainty, is increasing the cost of importing steel, concrete, plaster and plastic building products, which is leading to input inflation. “We are also seeing smaller firms pricing up work for the larger contractors to reflect the risk of dealing with the financially troubled outsourcing sector. “Whatever happens with Brexit and the wider economy, the construction industry will continue to rely on self-employed tradespeople and their ability to supply specialist labour. “Despite the fall in May, they are still earning the equivalent of an annual salary of £43,000, which compares favorably against the average UK salary of £29,000.”
Women in Construction UK Magazine - June 2019 05
Latest News Councils sell over 200 sites to community led housing groups Research undertaken by the National Community Land Trust Network has revealed that a third of local authorities in England are now supporting community led housing development. • One in six councils have policies to support community led housing • One in three councils have given grants or loans for community led housing • At least 208 public sites have been sold or leased to community led housing groups The information has been compiled following Freedom of Information requests to all councils in England in December 2018. Despite central government forecasting that 300,000 properties need to be built each year until the mid-2020s, housing starts are falling short. And while local authorities will benefit from the lifting of the Housing Revenue Account borrowing cap, they are still facing an £8bn funding gap during the same period. This research highlights some of the ways that local authorities are starting to embrace new community led solutions in an effort to get new homes built or bring properties back into use.
Community led housing is a way that people and communities can come together to solve their own housing challenges and provide high quality and affordable homes. The homes are managed or owned by the community in the way they want. Funding available for community led housing is at record levels and includes the Government’s £163m Community Housing Fund. This followed a first year of the Fund (2016/17) when £60m was granted to 148 local authorities based in areas where the number of second homes is high. There are more than 196,000 community led homes in the UK, the majority being housing co-operative homes that were built in the 1970s and 80s. But in recent years the movement, which also includes community land trusts and cohousing has seen a surge in interest. It is expected that 5,000 new community led homes will be built in the next five years. Tom Chance, Director at the National Community Land Trust Network, said: “Our research highlights the growing interest in community led housing in local government. With budgets stretched more councils are looking for new ways to solve local housing problems and help their neighbourhoods
prosper. It’s fantastic to see that one-third of councils of all political colours have now used either policy, grants, loans or land disposals to help community projects to succeed. “While some see this as a distraction or competition with their own housing plans, more are seeing how community led approaches can complement and strengthen other aspects of their housing strategy.” Andrew George, Director at Cornwall Community Land Trust, said: “Putting the community in the driving seat not only helps to ensure we get the homes the community wants and needs, but they’re protected to benefit future generations in perpetuity too. “Community led housing works. In Cornwall, over the past ten years, 23 projects have developed 241 homes. We’re fortunate to have full backing from Cornwall Council. Without this, we would not be as successful as we are. “From professional support to political backing and the availability of a £4 million Community Land Trust Revolving Loan Fund to bankroll the development phase. It makes a big difference to know the council is right behind what we’re doing.”
Government must act as construction apprenticeship starts drop by almost half, says FMB The Government must review its approach to apprenticeships following statistics published today which show that construction apprenticeship starts have plummeted by almost half, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB). In March 2019 there were only 694 Construction, Planning and the Built Environment apprenticeship starts compared with 1,247 in March 2018. Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders, said: “Construction apprenticeship starts have suffered a serious hit and we now need decisive action from the Government in order to reverse this decline. The Government must accept the recommendation made in the Review of Post-18 Education and Funding, also published today, to make provision for full funding, at all ages, for first qualifications at Level 2 and 3. The Government is uniquely placed to
drive the apprenticeship agenda, and if Ministers want to achieve their target of three million apprenticeship starts by the end of next year, they must review apprenticeship policy, including the Apprenticeship Levy.” Berry concluded: “Of course the construction industry itself must do more to rally around a shared ambition to promote the industry and all its merits, such as innovation, design and entrepreneurship. The drop in starts by almost half should sound the alarm that we aren’t doing enough to get the message out there. If we don’t address the skills shortage by increasing training and apprenticeships, the construction industry won’t be able to expand and grow. Introducing a mandatory licensing scheme for UK construction could help create the culture change our industry needs by improving our reputation through increased quality and professionalism and thus make us more attractive to new entrants.”
06 Women in Construction UK Magazine - June 2019
Meet the Women at Homes England
Women In Construction UK Magazine, were interested to find out more about the women working at Homes England and gain insight into their routes into the industry and their role within the agency. As the government’s housing accelerator, Homes England is a market-focused agency with a talented team working across land, investment and market interventions across England. As a result the agency draws its workforce from a number of fields including investment bankers, land and real estate experts, planners and surveyors and competes directly with the commercial market for talent. Tamsin Hart Jones, Senior Specialist. Tamsin is a spare time Hollywood history geek and lover of American road trips. I always wanted a job where I could make a difference on the ground. My career has completely evolved with Homes England, from being a Graduate Trainee with a predecessor organisation to where I am now, a Senior Specialist in our Land team. I’m technically a planner, but working at Homes England has really stretched my skill set and I’m involved in many areas of work across our organisation. I’ve had incredible opportunities to work on complex projects that have made a real difference, including leading on the planning and development of one of the most contaminated sites in Western Europe, The Avenue Coking Works near Chesterfield, and most recently leading on York Central, a site with the potential to deliver 2,500 homes in a place with serious affordability and housing supply challenges, York City Centre. It’s a bit of a cliché but no two days are the
same at York Central. We’ve bought land and worked collaboratively with partners at the Council, Network Rail and the Railway Museum to develop proposals for the site, get outline planning approval and fund the early infrastructure to get into the site. For the past year and a half I’ve been seconded to the York Central Partnership to lead on the project for all the partner organisations. I’ve been leading on creating a partnership, making sure we stay on track with our challenging timescales and engagement with the community, stakeholders and potential investors and occupiers. At Homes England one of our core values is diversity and it’s so important to me that we’re serious about ensuring that in everything we do. The construction industry has to change to address the skills challenge it faces, and I believe diversifying and encouraging more women into the industry is critical to this, as well as encouraging other underrepresented groups. Construction has such wide and varied opportunities and it’s incredibly satisfying to see your hard work realised in bricks and mortar. Eleanor Kinsella, Apprentice Chartered Surveyor Ellie, aged 20, is a gig and festival enthusiast. I joined Homes England last September as an Apprentice Chartered Surveyor and attend Birmingham City University one day a week where I’m studying valuations, estate management, relationship management and residential development. I had secured a place at the University of Sheffield, but the benefits of an apprenticeship far outweighed the draw of the university lifestyle. Apprenticeships are becoming an increasingly well recognised route into the construction industry at a higher education level and I am able to complete my degree debt free, with the added benefit of being surrounded by professionals who are all willing to pass on their expertise.
Tamsin Hart Jones
I’m also earning while I’m learning, but at a less intensive level. After continuous exams over the last four years, to have the
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Eleanor Kinsella opportunity to work alongside studying is a refreshing balance, whilst the work routine develops my work ethic and discipline. Homes England offers a unique opportunity to work with companies across the industry and provides such a variety of work to get involved in. There is also a moral purpose behind the work that is undertaken here, and I find that very motivating. As a young person, I know my generation will feel the pressures of our national housing shortage, so I’m glad to be playing my part in tackling the housing crisis. My family have always been very encouraging of my career choices and as a result I have never felt that any opportunities are off limits due to my gender. However, industry perception definitely acts as a barrier to some women and the industry is unmistakeably very male orientated. On my university course for example, there are only four girls in a class of 30. Engaging with young people much earlier in their career decision making process through school and career fairs would provide an opportunity to highlight careers in construction to girls considering their options and eradicate any misconceptions of the industry. Lucy Blasdale, Head of Land in the Midlands Lucy lives in South Shropshire with her
Meet the Women at Homes England husband and two children where she can be often found tending the garden.
I lead Homes England’s land development programme in the Midlands. As a team the work we do is very varied; acquiring sites, securing planning, remediation and infrastructure contracts and site disposal all form part of the day to day. We have a strong female workforce and I’m proud to lead a team with an even gender balance. But there is still work to be done to ensure we have enough women in key leadership roles. As the agency continues to grow, inspiring the women in our workforce to develop their careers and progress through the organisation is critically important. I think the industry needs to do more to attract a greater workforce irrespective of gender. There are considerable skills shortages across the sector at every level and we need to encourage the best young talent. We in the sector need to do all we can to promote opportunities and make it a career of choice. I personally undertake public speaking with schools, colleges and universities, which I find really rewarding. With such a diverse range of roles in the industry it’s vital that we are committed to better promoting these opportunities to make sure we capture a wider pool of talent. For anyone struggling to access opportunities there are some very strong female professional networks in the sector, which create great opportunities for business development and support. The best advice I could give is to get some work experience, no matter where you are in your education, as there is no substitute for experiencing first-hand what the sector has to offer. Sophie White, General Manager Housing Infrastructure Fund
As a working mum it’s hard to get the balance right and after two periods of maternity leave, I found myself needing a change. I joined Homes England’s predecessor organisation initially on a secondment into the investment team and loved it so much I moved permanently. It’s by no means been an easy option and I’ve never worked harder in my life, but what Homes England offers is flexibility and an acceptance of multiple commitments. I make compromises in my personal life to accommodate work, but I also compromise at work to prioritise home life sometimes, and that’s okay. The breadth of work I’ve been involved in is extraordinary, and the learning curve
challenging. I deliver funding structures including grant, loans and equity and have been involved in a number of high profile and complex real estate projects including development finance at East Village and infrastructure funding for Greenwich Peninsula. We’re a mission led organisation but it’s the how as well as the what, we’re focused on fostering a culture that we can be proud of, one that supports our mission and objectives and encourages us to constantly strive for a more collaborative and positive culture. Our aim is to set a leading example to the industry of growing inclusion and diversity and we are committed to success.
Sophie, aged 43, is a keen amateur horse woman and recent entrant to the world of chicken keeping. As general manager of Infrastructure and complex projects at Homes England I’m responsible for the agency’s Housing Infrastructure Fund. Working in London for the government’s housing agency is a huge leap from where I started my career with Savills as a rural practice surveyor. I’m a country woman at heart so working in the city was the last thing I expected my career to hold, however, after qualifying, I moved to London and took on roles with Drivers Jonas and later Deloitte Real Estate, specialising in valuation and development. I married (another Drivers Jonas surveyor!) in 2007 and children followed soon after.
Women in Construction UK Magazine - June 2019 09
Awards News East Midlands fit-out firm wins People Development Award at 2019 Celebrating Construction Awards Commercial fit-out and refurbishment specialist Butler & Willow has been awarded the People Development Award at the 2019 East Midlands Celebrating Construction Awards. The awards, which took place on Friday at the Nottingham Belfry, honour the best of the region’s built environment and are open to both public and private sector organisations/projects.
CULTURAL LANDMARK WINS PRESTIGIOUS AWARD A project to rejuvenate and futureproof an historic landmark in a seaside town has been recognised for excellence in construction within the region. Grade II listed Wells Maltings in Wells-next-the-Sea won the RICS 2019 – East of England award for Community Benefit at a glamorous gala dinner at the Apex, Bury St Edmunds on Wednesday (15th May). The regenerated arts, heritage and community complex in the heart of Wells, opened formally in September 2018 following a £5m restoration and extension project. In its first 20 weeks the venue attracted more than 3,000 visitors, showcased 90 separate live events and hired out facilities to 15 new community groups. Daniel Connal Partnership (DCP), who have offices in Norwich, Colchester and London, worked as quantity surveyors and project managers on the development. The wider construction team included architects Chaplin Farrant, contractor Robson Construction and engineers JP Chick. Senior Partner at DCP, Robert Dale, commented, “We are incredibly proud to have been involved in the complete restoration and extension of this much-loved but time-worn historic asset. And for it to be recognised by RICS, is a huge achievement for the team. “The scheme has been a community project from the outset and to see it being embraced as a sustainable and exciting destination is truly fantastic.” The annual RICS awards, organised and run by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, recognise excellence in the built environment, showcasing successful and inspirational initiatives and developments in land, real estate, construction and infrastructure. All category winners will go through to the RICS Awards 2019 Grand Final in London on the 8 November at the Royal Lancaster Hotel.
Butler & Willow – which operates from its fully working showroom, mid-way between Nottingham and Derby in Long Eaton – received the People Development Award as recognition of the company’s commitment to developing and supporting its team and attracting new entrants to the industry. The firm impressively demonstrated the different ways in which it invests in and develops its workforce, attracts new talent, works with the community and champions equality and diversity. James Willow, managing director of Butler & Willow, said: “We promote time and time again that our team is our best asset. We’re committed to delivering impressive results and exceeding our clients’ expectations each and every time, but you can’t deliver excellence without an exceptional highly performing team. This award is especially important to us since our main priority is making sure our team feels supported and empowered. We recognise that investing in our amazing people, continually aiding development and providing encouragement creates a fulfilling working environment and a happy, motivated workforce which consistently upholds our values alongside our renowned reputation. It’s been extremely rewarding watching each member of the team grow, seeing how committed they are to their own development, generating opportunities for themselves and the company. Serving both large multi-national and independent enterprises for over the past 25 years, Butler & Willow designs and installs tailored, effective workplaces that are more than just ‘places to work’ but places ‘people want to be’. Alongside completing impressive projects for companies such as global data and technology company ERT, software developer e-days, IT solution provider Retail Assist and business advisory firm Mazars, Butler & Willow continues to provide long-term careers for industry professionals who want to become the best they can be and works closely with local universities to offer opportunities for upcoming talent. The firm recently announced a number of new project wins, including for the UK’s largest independent car retailer Motorpoint, business advisory firm Smith Cooper, global logistics provider DSV, law firm Elliot Mather, and talent recruitment firms Talk Staff and SF Group.
10 Women in Construction UK Magazine - June 2019
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100 years of safety remembered and celebrated Crabtree, part of the family of brands at the UK’s leading electrical group Electrium, is 100 years old this year and has celebrated this fabulous milestone with a series of events and activities. Crabtree began on 17th April 1919 when John Ashworth Crabtree designed a quick make and break switch. Marking this momentous occasion, members of the Crabtree family flew
to the UK to attend a special memorial service in Walsall on Crabtree’s Centenary and were joined by colleagues past and present for a gala evening to celebrate the brand’s history. Colleagues also held special events with customers throughout the country. Mike Cash, Group Marketing & Channel Manager at Electrium commented: “Throughout the year we’re encouraging customers to share their memories of
Crabtree. From using our products as an apprentice, up to the work they still do with Crabtree, simply tweet @electriumnews and use #CrabtreeCentenary to share your story.” When it launched in 1919, Crabtree had a motto: “That which is built soundly endures well”. It was inscribed into the company plaque and rightly so. Crabtree was built soundly enough to provide 100 years of electrical safety to its customers and here’s to another century of the same.
HFW Elects First Female Global Construction Head, Promotes New Construction Partner Global, sector-focused law firm HFW has elected Sydney partner Carolyn Chudleigh as the new head of its construction practice and a member of the firm’s global Management Board.
spanning offices in Europe and AsiaPacific and all six of the firm’s global industry groups: aerospace, commodities, construction, energy, insurance and shipping.
Carolyn is the first woman to lead HFW’s construction practice, which comprises 20 partners and more than 70 lawyers across the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific. The team advises contractors, owners, consultants, insurers, property developers, financiers and investors on every aspect of the construction process, from project establishment and procurement to claim resolution, with a particular focus on the energy, infrastructure and property sectors.
Carolyn Chudleigh, Global Head of Construction, HFW: “I am very proud to have been elected to head HFW’s global construction practice. We have ambitious plans to further strengthen and broaden our construction offering – particularly in relation to international infrastructure projects, complex real estate deals and domestic construction work – and to establish HFW as one of the top legal advisors of choice to the construction industry globally.”
Carolyn joins Chief Financial Officer Hamedeh Ghobadian and global head of finance Elinor Dautlich as one of three women on HFW’s Management Board. HFW has also promoted Londonbased construction lawyer Richard Booth to partner. Richard specialises in construction and engineering law, helping clients with contract drafting and negotiation, strategic project advice and dispute resolution work. He acts in a wide range of construction sectors in the UK and internationally, and is the current Chairman of the Adjudication Society. HFW promoted nine new partners overall,
12 Women in Construction UK Magazine - June 2019
Jeremy Shebson, Managing Partner, HFW: “I am very pleased that we now have three women on our board. We are deeply committed to increasing female representation at the highest levels of the firm, and I look forward to working with Carolyn, Elinor, Hamedeh and the rest of the board to help drive positive change.” HFW has also elected new heads of its global commodities, energy and shipping practices, and re-elected the heads of its aerospace and insurance practices. This follows HFW’s election of a new global management team, with Jeremy Shebson elected as the firm’s new Managing Partner and Richard Crump re-elected for a fifth term as Global Senior Partner.
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Demolishing Gender Imbalance within the Construction Industry Women In Construction UK Magazine asked Amie Owen’s a Building Surveyor for CBRE Ltd to comment about her thoughts on the importance of encouraging the younger generation of women into the industry.
Is there a gender imbalance within the construction industry – absolutely. But the great news is that things are changing for the better. Thankfully, the bad old days of women being solely responsible for making the tea and being wolf-whistled at on site are well and truly behind us – and it is now widely recognised that woman make an extremely valuable contribution to the construction sector. It’s clear that the construction industry offers both men and women fantastic career opportunities however a sizable proportion of females within the industry appear to have arrived here later in life than their male colleagues. These women have often come via a convoluted route of higher education having been unable to determine their ‘calling’ at school age. This begs the question - is the industry’s reputation as a man’s world forming a barrier as strong as any (man-made) wall? There is no doubt that a successful team requires a good mix of people. Women can often bring a different set of skills and characteristics to a male dominated team resulting in a much more dynamic way of working. My own company, CBRE prides itself on being the first real estate advisory firm to achieve the ‘National Equality Standard’ and demonstrates this through its commitment to flexible working practices, talent development programmes and mentoring schemes. An extensive schools programme has helped to achieve a 50:50 gender split of graduate and apprentice recruits and the number of women being awarded senior management positions is visibly increasing. There is still a long way to go before we see true equality throughout the wider industry, but let’s not dwell on what is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. If employers continue to empower women in the industry to show what we can really do then the younger generation will soon see that there is a rewarding career available on the other side of that metaphorical wall. Amie Owen BSc (Hons) MRICS Building Surveyor CBRE Ltd
14 Women in Construction UK Magazine - June 2019
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- RMF Construction Services - QP.indd 1 21/05/2019 WomenWIC519007 in Construction UKLtdMagazine - June 2019 1514:12:03 28/05/2019 12:19:00
Women in Construction UK Magazine spoke with Divisional Director Architect Rachel Bell about education and wellbeing in the workplace. Also she discusses, gender inclusivity and the importance. Modernise and inspire: diversity, recruitment and profitability I’ve long been an advocate for promoting women in the construction industry. In one way or another, I’ve mentored schoolgirls, female undergraduates and young women professionals all of my working life. But of course supporting women is just a part of the much larger campaign for equality, diversity and inclusion. Race, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, nationality, cultural or socio-economic background – they’re all equally important facets vulnerable to the biases that threaten our fair treatment in life. Making the workplace attractive to everyone blends into the whole question of wellbeing and maintaining a healthy worklife balance, too. At a time when we are facing extreme labour and skills shortages, and companies have to compete hard for the best talent, there could hardly be a more important topic for the construction industry. At a recent school reunion I bumped into my old careers adviser who had encouraged me to give the construction industry a try. I will always be grateful, and gave him a big hug to prove it. His advice had indeed been inspirational, but looking back I realize that he had been out of touch. He hadn’t been able to give me a full picture of the routes in or the wealth of opportunity open to me, or, indeed, of the highly pressurized, longhours work culture that characterizes our sector. I didn’t want to go down the ‘A’ level route to becoming an architect and had to work out the BTEC path by myself. I was fortunate – I had access to people in the business to steer me through – my dad and uncle. Not everyone is so lucky, and today’s school careers advisers are probably even more out of touch and poorly resourced than they were back then. That begs the question, “How will we recruit the construction workers of the future?” The answer has to include appealing to women, and that means adjusting the more insidious aspects of the work culture that
keeps women away, blocks their promotion or, worse, drives them away after they’ve qualified. While I was still trying to complete my professional qualification, my employer Stride Treglown, whom I happily still work for, would sometimes ask me to go into schools to talk about architecture. Of course I was aware that this was because I was that comparatively rare thing – a woman architect - but mostly I thought it was just because I was had qualified by an unusual route. Sure, I’d been the only girl in my BTEC class but it didn’t strike me as worthy of note. It was only later as I became more senior and extended my network through Women in Property (WiP) that that changed. By talking to my peers, many of whom had encountered uncomfortable moments where being female was the issue, I grew increasingly aware of the important professional and political need to look more closely at gender inequality. WIP is undoubtedly fun and good for networking, but it is also part of an influential grass roots movement for gender equality in the workplace. This is especially relevant in the professions where the leadership was and, although things are changing, still is almost uniformly white, male, and of a certain age and background. There is nothing wrong with people who meet that description, of course. Issues arise though when you realise that their point view is by definition narrow and blinkered. Consciously or otherwise, the collective impact of their decisions end up discriminating against or plain excluding different kinds of people from having a say. Put like that, you can see how big a mistake it is. Having only one kind of person making decisions must mean that they regularly miss the mark, to the detriment of their staff and clients. This is especially insidious in a design discipline like architecture, where the decisions affect the whole of society. And sure enough, there is plenty of evidence, famously from a report by McKinsey & Company published in 2015, to show a positive correlation between more diversity in senior management and increased profitability.
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I eventually became the Chair of the South West branch of WIP at the height of the #metoo campaign, when I addressed the Constructing Excellence conference on the issue of gender diversity. I also oversaw the Building a Better Workforce survey , exploring best practice in human resources management. Just as gender equality, diversity and inclusion converges with the industry’s impending labour crisis, so it cannot be separated from issues of wellbeing in the workplace. The Gender Pay Gap reporting requirement was a wake-up call for us in Stride Treglown. Our first median score was a middling 28.7 %, and we knew we had to do better. Since then, we’ve set up a diversity and inclusion group and written a strategy aligned to the Bristol Equality Charter to direct every aspect of our working practices. What’s interesting is how it benefits all
staff, not just the minorities. Our recruitment interview panels have diverse representation, making sure our prejudices don’t blind us to talent. We are exploring anonymizing applications to avoid unconscious bias. We’ve adopted shared parental leave. Wanting our staff to be best they can be, we’ve instituted agile working and flexi-time. We’re exploring job-sharing to allow talented women architects, for example, to continue their career even when they want to spend time with their children. Although slow going and nowhere near complete, it’s working: our latest Gender Pay Gap median score was 23.4 %. The job facing all of us now is to keep the momentum up. We need to make the workplace more equal, diverse and inclusive, banishing the industry’s brutal work culture. Apart from being morally good, this will unleash improved business performance, higher profits, and better staff recruitment and retention. It’s not enough, though. All of us in the industry – men as well as women - also need to go out proactively into our schools and communities to inspire a new generation to join up. I’ve mentored and tried to role-model all my working life through membership groups like WiP, BCO, and the CITB. This is how I inspire and recruit. Will you join me?
Rachel Bell is a divisional director architect at Stride Treglown. You’ll often see Rachel who is a visible role model in the industry at both regional and national construction events which has taken her down an alternative path into the world of Business Development. She was nominated as one of 30 UK Construction Week role models in 2018/19 and was a finalist in the European Women in Construction and Engineering awards for mentoring in 2018 and Business Development in 2019 (results due on 21st May). As well as being nominated as the SW Property Personality of the year in October last year. Stride Treglown is an employee-owned architectural practice. Over 300 people are based within a mixture of creative, expertise, innovative and service led studios, across 9 UK offices. We promote a new form of architecture. One that isn’t driven by ego. Instead, we focus on the needs of our clients and the people that use our projects, making spaces and places that people love to use for generations to come. People are at the heart of everything we do. That’s why we take wellbeing so seriously. In 2015 we became the first UK organisation to achieve ‘Excellence’ in all 8 categories of the Workplace Wellbeing Charter, an initiative recognising business commitment to the health and wellbeing of their staff. www.stridetreglown.com/people/rachel-bell
Women in Construction UK Magazine - June 2019 17
Women in the Spotlight Jessica Hickman, the Bullyologist, explains how workplace adversity positively shaped her future When I tell people the story of how I endured three years of workplace bullying in the resources and construction industry in Australia, they often ask me if I blame the industry itself. My answer is a definitive no. All industries have pockets of bullies. The predominant factors that lead to bullying and allow it to flourish (ineffectual leadership, toxic organisational culture and poor bullying awareness) can be present anywhere. Resource industries (including construction) offer employment opportunities that I firmly believe more women should actively pursue: the personal and professional rewards can be incredible. Originally from Wales, I was excited to take up an HR position in 2014 at a Darwin-based oil and gas construction project in northern Australia. Part of my job was to provide support for the many FIFO (fly-in, fly-out) workers employed onsite. While there, I was able to identify gaps in mental health support within the industry and develop a workplace culture program that made a positive difference to employee well-being. I created safe and supportive work environments and, over time, received numerous industry awards and ministerial recognition for my work. The irony of all this was that behind the scenes, I was being subjected to prolonged bullying by my own HR manager, whose narcissistic leadership style included physical and emotional intimidation, misogyny, threats, harassment and verbal abuse. This onslaught led to extreme anxiety and eventually to my stress-related hospitalisation. I eventually left the company, fearing for my health.
However, through adversity can come great knowledge and success. That challenging personal experience turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It propelled me along a path to learn everything I could about the complicated relationships that exist between bullying, organisational culture, resilience and emotional health. Today, I run Bullyology, a worldwide business dedicated to breaking the silence on bullying while promoting healthy relationships in workplaces, at schools and in the cyber-world. Through my online courses, speaking engagements, books, workshops and collaborations with likeminded organisations, I educate business leaders on the proactive steps they can take to create a more positive, inclusive and productive workplace where bullying doesn’t stand a chance. Being a young female thrown into a whole new role in a new country and tasked with running mental health programs was both scary and exciting. Several things changed for me. In the UK, I had worked full time in the construction industry, and run youth outreach programs in the evening (while judging studying a Youth and Community degree). In Australia, the site workforce covered the entire age spectrum and I dealt with a huge and complex range of sensitive employee issues including depression, alcoholism, addictions, relationship issues, homesickness (many workers were young and from overseas) and cultural adjustments. Working on a remote Australian jobsite brings its own set of challenges. Because of the vast distances between major cities and many of these sites, workers are flown in and out. This system can put a real strain on family life and lead to an unsettled feeling that’s hard to shake. FIFO is quite common in the construction and mining industries in Australia – an estimated 65,000 Aussie workers are employed under fly-in, fly-out work arrangements within the Resources sector. There’s also this interesting thing Down Under called ‘tall poppy syndrome’ where someone who has a bit of success may be seen as ‘above everyone else’ and therefore subject to jealousy or ridicule. In some work/ social situations, being a high-achiever
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isn’t always viewed as a plus. On occasion, this mindset can even lead to ‘workplace mobbing’ – a type of bullying in which strong achievers are pressured to underperform so they don’t make their colleagues look bad. This ‘don’t-get-too-big-for-your-boots’ mentality isn’t just an Aussie phenomenon, however – it happens all over the world and is largely fuelled by job insecurity. Positive strides are being made in Australia with bullying awareness but as with everywhere else, there’s still plenty of work to be done. For example, during my own bullying experience, I submitted more than 30 complaints to managers about individual incidents. The result was that management largely turned a blind eye – buck-passing was the default reaction. I was constantly placated but nothing was ever done to address the toxic workplace culture and leadership failures that led to the bullying in the first place. Construction is the third largest employer in Australia – yet it’s also the most male-dominated sector. Around 99% of construction tradespeople in the country are males and roughly 9 out of ten construction managers and professionals are men as well. Research has shown that a number of factors hamper the recruitment, career progression and retention of women in the Aussie construction industry: 1. Sexism – Sexist language, attitudes and actions continue to permeate the construction field. I faced this with my own bully, who targeted me because I was young, female, good at my job and socially collaborative - all of which he saw as a threat to his misogynistic view of the workplace. His respect for women was zero and I was certainly not the only female he belittled and intimidated. 2. Lack of flexibility and long hours – A typical construction tradesperson might arrive on site at 5:30am and not leave until sunset. Admin staff and construction managers often take work home with them and may pull a 6-day week. There’s not a lot of tolerance for anyone (male or female) who doesn’t commit to their jobs 100%. Parttime or shared work arrangements simply don’t exist on many jobsites. When there are
Women in the Spotlight tight deadlines to meet and budgets to rein in, flexibility doesn’t get much of a look in. This ‘work is everything’ approach doesn’t do much to attract females with family commitments (especially the care of small children at home) who would benefit from a more flexible approach. As I discovered through my daily interactions with construction employees, this industry doesn’t always appreciate the stresses and demands it places on emotional health and life away from the jobsite. Living and working in remote locations creates higher rates of depression and anxiety – employees have a feeling of emotional and social isolation to go along with their physical isolation. For example, one Australian university study found that rates of depression amongst FIFO workers was twice that of non-FIFO workers. 3. Gender equality – This can also be an issue. With the right support, leadership and solid mentoring, women can and do make inroads into this industry and some do quite well – but highlevel female construction managers are still a rarity in Australia. More can be done to retain the females already in the sector as well: one Aussie study found that women leave the construction industry nearly 40% faster than their male colleagues. 4. Post-parental leave support – It can be tricky for women to return to the construction workforce after an absence due to parental leave, despite the existence of formal parental leave policies. Many companies look upon parental leave as something that costs construction projects time and money, so there’s less support in this area than there could be. Because of this, some women end up not returning to construction after their parental leave period is over – even if they’d like to. Construction must find a way to become more compatible with caring responsibilities if it is to attract and retain its hard-working female workforce. When you compare female construction workers in Australia with their counterparts in the UK, it’s interesting that although the landscapes can be totally different, many of the challenges are quite similar. For example, 99% of all UK construction site workers are male – roughly the same figure as in Australia. And the assorted issues of sexism on worksites, long hours, lack of more flexible work opportunities and gender equality certainly rear their heads in the UK as well. Only 14% of UK entrants to engineering and technology first-degree courses are female and we have the lowest proportion of women engineers in Europe. I think governments can do more to create incentives for women to take up construction as a profession but ultimately, many of the hurdles stem from the same issues I faced as a victim of workplace bullying: toxic workplace cultures and a lack of strong leadership, both on an individual worksite level and in the industry as a whole. My own experiences in the construction field certainly
had their ups and downs but I wouldn’t have traded them for anything. They helped mould me into the fierce and determined anti-bullying advocate I am today and gave me the knowledge, strength and motivation to create Bullyology, a truly international business that promotes healthy workplaces, coaches and mentors women in construction (and other industries) and raises global awareness of bullying, harassment and the vital role that strong leadership plays in the fostering of positive and inclusive workplace environments. I believe there are several ways employers and managers can better support their workers, especially those on the kinds of remote jobsites common in outback Australia: • Promote open and honest communication that goes both ways and is based on mutual respect. View employees as human beings, not just tools that are used to increase profit. Give them a voice. Ask them how they’re feeling, what might be causing them stress, how their work relationships are going. Talk about their home life, their hobbies, their plans for the weekend. Make them feel valued. • Foster a workplace where safety (both physical and emotional) is a priority – and where employees are empowered and encouraged to look after each other. An environment where workers bond as mates instead of seeing each other as competitors gets good work done. A spirit of community brings team success – a spirit of fear and insecurity drags a worksite down. • Look after the well-being of workers: promote healthy eating, fun exercise and social activities; provide the necessary emotional support for those who are struggling. Be tuned in to each worker’s personal and professional needs by being observant and truly listening. Understand that feeling isolated is a dangerous and unproductive mental condition for any employee.
• Act assertively when any issue crops up that can affect workplace morale, whether it’s sexism, bullying, harmful gossip, micromanagement or anything else. Don’t let conflicts boil up and bubble over. Be honest, upfront and proactive when dealing with negative workplace behaviours; they only get worse if ignored or excused. Earn employee trust by setting an example as a positive change-maker. Reward your employees when they excel. I would never have achieved the successes I’m having as The Bullyologist without the time I spent in and around the construction industry in the UK and Australia. Through the good, the bad, the disappointing and the intensely rewarding, it all made a positive difference in my life and I cherish the opportunities it provided me to grow and to find my true voice. Change happens when one person believes things can be better – and in their own small way, keep pushing to nudge the status quo in the right direction.
Jessica Hickman was born in Wales and moved to Australia in 2013. Through a three-year personal ordeal with workplace bullying, she empowered herself to become a dynamic activist and global advocate in the field of bullying, mental health and positive relationships. She is the founder of Bullyology, a professional anti-bullying methodology dedicated to tackling the global scourge of bullying while striving to promote healthy relationships in workplaces, at schools and online. You can contact her at email@example.com for information on anti-bullying workshops, keynote speaking, books, campaigns, resources and more. Her best-selling book The Bullyologist is available in paperback and as an eBook.
Women in Construction UK Magazine - June 2019 19
Women in the Spotlight Women In Construction UK Magazine spoke with Chandni Vora, Chief Operating Office for Vascroft Contractors about why she aspired to have a job in the construction industry and her experiences. We also asked her to discuss whether she felt it important for more women to be encouraged to seek a role in the construction industry. I’m delighted to be a part of Women in Construction’s campaign to highlight successful women in construction across the UK. From a personal point of view, I’ve been empowered by some key people in both my professional and personal life – and I strongly believe that those two parts of one’s life are intertwined and mutually dependant. The first person I would credit for inspiring me to believe in myself was my father. He never differentiated me or my sisters from my brother. He always taught us that there is no such word as ‘can’t’, and because of him I have an unwavering belief that it is the person inside that will make the difference, regardless of gender. Someone else who always made me think that a girl was as good as a boy was my mother. She taught me that the even the sky’s not the limit and said things like “even women can go into space, telling me I could be an astronaut when I grew up.” Well, I’m not an astronaut, but a Chief Operating Officer for Vascroft Contractors Ltd where I joined the firm 9 years ago initially as a Finance Executive, I have found myself in what has traditionally been seen as a male dominated industry. I believe my gender should not really make a difference, but it has proven me wrong on occasions. Being in this industry has brought challenges but those challenges have helped me grow stronger. I’ve had to be more resilient and found I had to prove myself more. Earlier on in my career in the 90s working for Bechtel Engineering Inc and Bae Systems, I was the only female accountant
faced with a lot of male engineers who were not interested in the figures, but simply wanted funds for their projects and ensuring deliverance of their project was key. Faced with that, I had to learn how to find the right balance of assertiveness, get my point across and deliver my views effectively without being too cutthroat or bullish. I don’t believe that women should try to pretend to be men in the workplace. You have to be true to yourself and authentic useful skills that can bring a balance to the table. Over the years I learned to listen and collaborate, but it’s been a steep learning curve. Of course, there have been hurdles but that’s how we learn and better ourselves. Life experiences are the best learning tools. In that moment it might seem negative, but something positive will come out of it, trust your instincts. What I’ve learned on my journey to get to operating officer is that the people you meet along the way are your tools. When I was in my placement year during university as a trainee management accountant with a top law firm, the group FD, who was my mentor, inspired me to get the professional qualification, which is partly why I am doing what I do now. My CIMA qualification has allowed me to utilise key financial acumen with an understanding of how to apply to practical business situations enabling me to make sound decisions on operational matters relevant to our industry. Skills in project management, process improvement and change management over the years has helped make the transition into this role effective. I have been able to implement ISO qualifications for the company, steer groups to implement appropriate document
management systems and infrastructure changes. The ability to listen and empower the team has made the task easier to implement strategic change in this role along with the regular site visits engaging with the operational teams and sharing lessons learned to improve the company’s efficiencies and quality. Construction has been part of my life from a very young age. My father was an Ugandan Asian immigrant and started work as jobbing labourer in the 70s at the barbican towers with his younger brother and then successfully grew an established main contracting firm with over 42 years of construction experience hence have spent many childhood years at the back of a pickup and watching the way negotiations and contracts were awarded through to seeing finish builds. Oh how the industry has changed into being more formalised with health and safety and contractual documentation and accepting females into prominent roles in construction that can have an impact. The industry continues to inspire me with the various technological changes that lie ahead. I am at awe at the engineering and the structural aspect of the build that is hidden underneath the fabric of the building. The carving of double triple basements and how propping initiatives are constantly evolving. The industry over the years has embraced how women in these fields have added value to a build. Construction companies are striving to improve on the gender parity and inclusion aspects and have come a long way to help balance historical gender inequality. There’s still work to do, starting from the home through to our education system so that both boys and girls are aware of creating an equal environment for their future. I believe the world is changing for the better and more opportunities for women in construction will be available for the next generation. My advice to young women looking for a career in construction or business, and indeed my own daughters, is to never let your gender impede you. Face every task and go with a positive mindset. The journey there might take a while, but every day is a learning experience that sets you up for tomorrow. Be thick skinned, stand your ground pragmatically. Limits are what YOU set yourself. Every management guru says team is so important and that’s very true. It’s a two-way street as well, so let people come to you with ideas and learn from others in a team. That way, you’ll earn respect.
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The Digital Railway Programme: Bryony Goldsmith The number of passengers using Britain’s railway has doubled since the mid1990s, and at peak times on the busiest parts of the network, Britain’s railway is full. It has been estimated that there will be an extra one billion journeys by the mid-2030, meaning that new capacity is urgently required to meet the continued rise in demand. Conventional ways of providing this capacity by building new railway infrastructure would be hugely disruptive, costly and probably unachievable. This is where the Digital Railway Programme comes in to enable the transformation of the network by supporting the deployment of modern signalling and train control technology to increase capacity, reduce delays, enhance safety and drive down costs. I’ve been working with Network Rail for the last 18 months on the Digital Railway Programme, as the Head of Programme Management Office. The Programme is an industry-wide programme to support the roll-out of digital signalling and train control to meet the needs of passengers, freight customers, funders and to benefit the wider economy. The boost in efficiency should lead to fewer delays, provide the capacity for more services and improve performance whilst improving safety to passengers and staff on the Rail Network. But it’s not going to happen overnight…For this transformation to be successful, it’s not just the trains and infrastructure that need to be upgraded, but a shift in behaviours, ways of working and training is needed to support this transition. It’s this transformational change mentality that needs to be applied to
the industry as a whole to move us in the right direction towards creating an inclusive environment that will to attract new talent and retrain our existing superstars. If we don’t act now, it’s likely that this change will be something trigger from an external influencer rather than within the sector. Technology may be moving forward at a fast pace, but I’m not sure if the industry is keeping up in terms of its attitudes and ways of working. I do believe we have the drive and capability to make this happen ourselves, but it’s not happening fast enough. The challenge is that the best way to attract a diverse work is by having a diverse workforce, and this is just another ‘chicken and egg’ scenario that we need to avoid. Changing behaviours and creating a more inclusive working environment needs to be a focus, and there are so many who are willing to fight the good fight to change this from within. This isn’t about creating roles for women to meet quotas, it’s about creating balance and a better working environment for all, so everyone is comfortable in bringing their whole selves to work. The main thing I love about working in Major Infrastructure Programmes and specifically the Rail sector is the variety. No day is the same, no two projects or programmes alike. But working in the Rail Industry can be tough for anyone, and historically it’s not been a very welcoming environment for women. The sector can feel a bit old-fashioned in its attitudes at times. As a woman and a relatively young professional in a senior position, it’s important to me to be a real role model. I am working on opening up the industry
to more talent, and it’s exciting to see a younger, more diverse contingent now joining. Resilience is key in this industry, along with a passion to succeed and some patience. Once you get past the technical jargon and start to understand the different acronyms, it’s an exciting place to be and it’s motivating to be part of something where you really are making a difference. I want to continue to challenge stereotypes and perceptions, creating excitement around the industry and opening doors for women and future generations. It’s a great time to be in the industry, I am truly passionate about what I do, to me that’s more than just the ‘day job’. I’ve been working closely with institution like the RICS and groups like Women in Transport to address the balance bring about change from the inside. The momentum is massive, the motivation is clear, but we still have a long way to go.
By Bryony Goldsmith, Director, Arcadis Bryony is a Director at Arcadis leading the Programme Management Office (PMO) for the Digital Railway Programme, a rail industry-wide programme designed to benefit Great Britain’s economy by accelerating the digital enablement of the railway. Winner of the 2016 Woman of the Future Award in Construction, Real Estate and Infrastructure and current finalist in the 2019 WICE Awards for Best Woman Consultant, Bryony has worked across Europe supporting the development of the Arcadis Global Corporate Strategy, and later relocated to Qatar to join the £7 billion Ashghal Programme of Works. Bryony went on undertake a Global Role in developing Arcadis’ Programme Management Strategy before returning to the UK and leading a team of Programme and Project Managers in the Education Sector, working with Higher Education and Local Authority Clients in London.
Women in Construction UK Magazine - June 2019 21
Women in Construction UK Magazine: An interview with Sian Astley, lady-builder and renovator for the Homebuilding & Renovating Show Do you feel there is still stigma in the construction industry regarding women working in the construction sector? There’s not disgrace in women working in the construction industry and surely by 2019 we’ve got past even thinking that. We’ve fought long and hard in this country for women to be treated as equals to men and not to allow themselves to be judged by their sex. Whether on the tools or in management, women can be just as good as their male counterparts. I have no understanding of the notion that women
’shouldn’t work in construction and support any initiative to promote that.
Have you ever experienced any negative comments when working? It surprises people to learn that in my 23yrs working on and off building sites, there have been less than a handful of occasions when builders disrespect me, and when they do, the disrespect doesn’t last long. The men I’ve had true sexism from are the nasty smiling assassins in suits, those one who call themselves professionals. They tend to be the type of men not secure
enough in their own knowledge to accept a woman might know more on a particular subject, or have better judgment. The men who get their hands dirty tend to respect others who are prepared to, whatever their sex.
Tell us what your day to day involves and what parts of your role you enjoy the most My job is incredibly varied as I juggle the roles of landlord, lady builder, project manager and interior designer. Some years I wear one hat more than others. 2018/19 has seen a more hands off role as build project manager for the new BBC2 show Your Home Made Perfect, liaising between architects, builders, clients and production company to bring 15 ambitious renovation/builds to completion. Its been very challenging and all hidden behind the scenes. I could be one day dealing with building control issues, then next designing a bathroom, the next analysing cost data, then next wallpapering a room. What I love, what I have always loved most about being self employed in the property world is that every day is different and even day I learn something new.
How important is it for more women to be encouraged into the industry? It is vital that as a society we support girls and women to enter and flourish is whatever industry they choose, be that a traditional ‘feminine’ one or one long dominated by men. In a post-Brexit world, the UK needs to be encouraging and training young people, male and female, in more practical roles, rather than focusing on just university style education. The skills shortage is real and the attitude of many young people to manual work can be quite dismissive, which isn’t a sensible approach given the excellent salaries achievable. The construction industry needs to get better at motivating and sparking interest in young people at a younger age – females included!
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Do you promote inclusivity in any way? I have spoken loud and proud about being a female in a man’s world for many years and regularly encourage women who get in touch with me to follow their dreams.
You present various TV shows, do you think your platform allows you to be a role model to women? I’ve been lucky enough to be asked to be involved with various TV shows and love the messages I get afterwards as a ‘lady builder’. Sometimes just seeing a woman do a job traditionally enjoyed by a man is enough to encourage viewers to make even the smallest changes, maybe their first go at DIY or being more confident at dealing with a builder on their own renovation. Most of the time it’s not so much about being a role model as encouraging other women to have the confidence to believe they can do what men have traditionally
done, and I love installing that confidence in other women when it happens.
It is so encouraging to see women being featured more, especially on TV programmes; can more still be done in your opinion to promote inclusivity? I actually think women are really well represented on property shows, generally. On Your Home Made Perfect we have a female architect who delivers inspirational designs. On Getting The Builders In for the BBC1 last year there were several females on the teams, though more in the north than the south, I might say! Production companies are mindful of inclusivity and balancing the sexes these days – quote rightly.
Were you always passionate about pursuing a career within the construction industry?
No, not at all. I know nothing about property and construction until my twenties when I fell into managing a damp proofing franchise head office. I quickly became fascinated with seeing houses being taken apart and put back together, and enjoyed getting stuck in on site. Enjoying being in a skip and having your finger nails caked in building site grime isn’t for everyone, but I adore it. The honestly and banter on a building site and working with trades is so refreshing, it’s not like being in a back stabbing office environment and that works for me.
Do you feel that there are more options for women nowadays in terms of more companies hiring more women? I’m the wrong person to ask really, I’ve never worked for anyone other than myself. When I was taken on by Remarkable TV, I was interviewed by an all female panel – perhaps as the glass ceiling breaks and more women are doing the hiring, maybe more women are being given roles traditionally given to men.
What one piece of advice would you give to other women out there that want to get into the construction industry? Do it. Have a go. Get some work experience in different areas of property and construction, and find your niche, as there are so many different careers to be enjoyed. Whether on the tools or in a suit, there are very few jobs now where there aren’t female roles models, so find yourself a mentor, get the necessary qualifications and get climbing the ladder.
Women in Construction UK Magazine - June 2019 23
Feature A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A BID MANAGER A day in the life of a bid manager is quite difficult to define as every day varies greatly depending on what type of project I’m working on. The term “bid manager” has many connotations, but I would describe my role as a Pre-Construction project manager on the contractor side. I am responsible for getting a project into contract and handed over to our Operational team to build on site. It is a very busy role, and I work closely with our wider preconstruction team of Design Managers, Estimators and Planners to establish how we can meet our customer’s needs.
Kate Francis is a chartered Civil Engineer working at construction company Willmott Dixon as a Bid Manager. Kate started her career in Australia and relocated to the UK three years ago. She has nearly 10 years of urban development experience in both Consultancy and Contractor companies. Kate is passionate about working with clients to achieve their visions and constructing innovative and sustainable buildings. She is also involved in LandAid, the largest property industry charity in the UK and is interested in how the construction industry can help play a role in ending youth homelessness.
My day will vary depending on what type of project I’m working on. We procure work through a mix of frameworks, negotiation and competitive tendering. Generally, I am responsible for either the second phase of a two-stage tender or delivering a single stage competitive tender. If I’m working on a two-stage tender, I will be first point of contact for the customer. My day will be spent liaising with the external project team (the customer, the architects, quantity surveyors, project managers) to understand how their vision, timeframes, budgets and how they need the building to operate. As a contractor, we can be engaged at any point in the design process, from conceptual design to detailed design, so my role will vary depending on what stage we join the team at. I could be doing anything from running a design competition to engage an architect, to producing a feasibility report for the project board to sign off costs. I have worked on a variety of projects, everything from R&D facilities, university campuses, residential developments to transport hubs for a wide range of customers. A large part of my role centres on identifying and managing risk. I need to identify and collate any design, safety and commercial risks, and determining how the risks can be reduced or managed. I’ll also need to
organise any enabling activities that we would need to allow us to start on site, such as ecological surveys and ground testing. I am an advocate of early contractor involvement through two stage tendering as we are able to share our best practises and lessons learnt to advise on buildability, sequencing, and construction risk. I also think it helps foster a collaborative environment where there is more scope for innovation with the whole team’s expertise able to be utilised. On a single stage tender, I am responsible for developing and producing our tender offer. Single stage tenders are a bit like the 100m sprint - there is a lot of work to do in a very short amount of time. These projects are high-stakes, with no second prizes if we don’t secure the contract. In a single stage tender, there is usually quite limited contact we can make with the project team, so my day will be working closely with our internal team to understand the key drivers and requirements of the project. I then need to translate this into a bid delivery strategy. There is usually a prescriptive set of responses that we need to provide, and I will constantly review our responses against our delivery strategy to ensure that we don’t lose sight of what the customer wants. Generally, on single stage tenders a lot of the design development work has already been done, so there is a limited scope to be able to have input into the design that the team has produced. However, I need to do a thorough design review to ensure that the design is fit for purpose. I will coordinate with our estimating team to review quotes from our supply chain and to come to a fixed price offer. Like two stage tendering, there is also a significant element of risk identification and management that I need to prepare. Whilst it can certainly be stressful, I find the energy that single stage bids generate in the office very exciting. It’s a fantastic feeling to hand in a tender when you’ve worked really hard to deliver something exceptional in a very short period of time (and even better when you win the job!). In addition to my role at Willmott Dixon, I also work on the South-West LandAid committee as a LandAid ambassador. Willmott Dixon are working as part of a wider local development group to redevelop a derelict site in central Bristol into 11 new, long-term accommodation flats for at-risk and homeless youth. I have been managing the construction process for this and procuring trades to help on a pro-bono basis. It is a fantastic opportunity to use my professional skills to help the local community and create a lasting legacy in Bristol. A lot of hard work has been done to date in securing services and I am excited to see this project come to fruition over the next 12 months.
24 Women in Construction UK Magazine - June 2019
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Ruth Oxley, Marketing and PR Manager for MTM Facades, gave us her personal opinion on women working in the construction industry. The topic of gender, gender equality, gender fluidity, gender neutrality, is omnipresent in the ‘Me Too’ zeitgeist we have become part of (and myself, unwittingly). From my perspective, equal rights is an absolute must, along with the raising awareness of such rights and the accreditation of key female players, not only in the construction industry but in business itself. There are summits later this year to celebrate the empowerment of our sisters in integral positions, and in no uncertain terms should any female be put off from working in what is a traditionally male environment. The construction industry is predominantly male- but with females turning the cogs at executive, management and lower levels. Behind the scenes, in front of the camera, women in construction are a force to be reckoned with, with more and more positions, technical, manual, management, being filled by us women. The role of women today in general, is shifting and rapidly. Do we stay at home and raise families, go to work, do both, do neither?? The options and questions are endless, the timing never right, the plates always spinning. To try and balance any semblance of life, along with any career,
never mind in the (once) testosterone-fuelled construction sector, is tough. But that’s why I love- and thrive off it. I love working in the construction industry and have for years, always in a marketing management capacity. Apart from learning the technicalities of the products or service I have been employed to work in, I have never felt any kind of bias or ‘discrimination,’ in any capacity. In fact, personally I have never been told I could not do anything a man can, or told what I can or can’t do in general. My family’s values, my school’s emphasis on female intelligence, has always just subconsciously allowed me to crack on with my life and career choices, without making a big deal of my sex. Never once have I felt a need to whinge about being the ‘weaker’ sex- never felt that. I have always felt my academic background; life experiences and gregarious personality— along with just always grafting-have got me jobs because of that. There is a misconception of the construction industry from years gone by, but there has been a real change in perception, a lot of it down to these ground-breaking women in construction who feel it our and their right to change this industry to be more ‘female friendly’ or at least accepting and adapting to the new rise of the super-feminists. They have done an amazing job. Me however, I have always felt comfortable working in
construction- maybe I have been lucky with the companies I work for, but have always been considered senior management, my work and opinions always respected, and my ruthless ambition respected. I have never felt belittled or considered ‘silly’ due to being a female and/or marketeer. The lads on site have always listened to me because I respect them. The board has always respected me because I listened to them. They all respect me because I have studied hard, work hard and combine this with being a single mumbut who cares? Gender is an issue right now- but only if you make it. Otherwise just crack on and not let an X or Y chromosome put you off a career or any decisions you make in life. As long as you work hard and your work reflects this, your family, friends and employers happy, who cares? Ruth Oxley Marketing and PR Manager MTM Facades Ruth.firstname.lastname@example.org
Women in Construction UK Magazine - June 2019 25
Legal Advice Column
Lawyer says the construction industry needs to ‘normalise’ conversation to tackle huge numbers of mental health sufferers A shocking statistic indicating that two UK construction workers take their own lives every day* has brought to light the astonishing figures of suicide in the industry. Rebecca Palmer, a senior associate and head of construction at law firm Prettys, tells us how we can tackle the issue of mental health from the ground-up, by utilising current initiatives and normalising the conversation of mental health, making it part of our day to day reality. Research conducted by the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity (Lighthouse Club) found that building finishing tradespeople, such as plasterers, painters and decorators bear twice the national suicide risk, these statistics were described as ‘horrifying’ by the charity’s CEO, Bill Hill.
So what can be done to tackle mental health in the industry? We need to step away from outdated stereotypes especially in an industry where men are still the majority. Creating a climate where conversations can and do happen, where we can feel safe to speak up about (and listen to our colleagues and contacts speaking up about) mental health without fear of prejudice and judgement is important. It is up to us as individuals to resist the society wide stigma relating to mental health and take action.
Most of us would not hesitate to tell a co-worker about a spectacle or a car crash we experienced on our way to work, neither should any of us hesitate to share other aspects of our human existence. Not one of us escapes mental health challenges and we know that talking works, so we need to regularise the conversation at home and at work. We don’t necessarily need to implement a new regime to “rectify” mental health, and of course there is no “one size fits all” fix. There are already many effective initiatives available to us that are well-researched and often employer-led, but they will only become a productive reality and create change if we actually adopt them whole-heartedly as individuals by having conversations and taking action to raise the topic of mental health. In the construction sphere specifically I am aware of a real appetite for change and often see humour being used as such an effective tool to offer a light-hearted and comfortable environment for people to discuss mental health. Humour can be a great way to provide (in a widely palatable form) those within hearing distance with “permission” to raise mental health-related topics; to confirm that it’s safe to speak of such things. Some inherent aspects of the construction industry are highlighted as factors that can trigger mental health issues, such as long and demanding work hours, staying away from home, skills shortages, redundancies, stressful working environments, constant availability. Targets and uncertainty affect us all, whether we are a surveyor within a multi-hierarchical multidisciplinary practice, a sole trading architect running our own design business, a selfemployed brickie running our own business or someone with any one of the other innumerable roles and responsibility in our construction industry. With help from nationwide initiatives like Heads Together, coupled with charities like Lighthouse Club and Mind, there is a much wider understanding that shows mental health issues are firmly on the agenda. The Lighthouse Club provides financial and emotional support to construction workers and their families. Initiatives encourage organisations like Prettys to pledge annual donations, so the charity can extend its mental health services on a long-term scale. Corporate donations will help enhance the charity’s free 24/7 helpline for people in the construction industry to access if they are suffering. The last year has seen the helpline support more than 1,500 individuals and families in crisis. Prettys is encouraging more firms to get involved in the discussion of mental health, regularly hosting a Business Academy, which supports an extensive network of commercial contacts, and has focussed on mental health alongside local charities such as Suffolk Mind. For more information on Prettys and the firm’s commitment to mental health in the construction industry, get in touch with Rebecca Palmer by calling 01473 298274 or email email@example.com *Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity figures
26 Women in Construction UK Magazine - June 2019
Research Piece Women In Construction UK Magazine asked Dr. Jenni Barrett, Senior Lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire and Director of coLAB, to summarise her research findings and discuss gender equity in the construction industry. The gender pay gap figures have been published for 2019. It may not surprise you to hear that construction, yet again, is the worst offending sector, with women earning only 76p for each £1 earned by their male colleagues. As more young women consider gender pay gap data in their career strategies, this disparity might add to the list of barriers that prevent women from entering, staying in, and succeeding in construction careers. The roots of gender bias in construction are as old as the buildings themselves. Historically, women have been denied access to the ‘noble’ professions, such as law, public office, architecture or engineering. Science is rooted in traditions of rationality and objectivity, which were considered by society as being in direct conflict with the idea of traditional femininity. Even in the early part of the twentieth century, women engineers were considered ‘perverse,’ misdirecting their creative energies, threatening the breeding of a ‘third sex!’ In the construction trades, men feared women joining their ranks in case they caused a ‘feminisation’ of their traditionally male craft. In the 21st century, these ill-informed prejudices are comically outdated…….right? Current employment data would suggest differently. A brief flick through our industry literature and we will still see women objectified, modelling the latest architectural product, whilst they perform traditional gender roles. Rarely will we see women celebrated as having played a pivotal role in industry success (unless it’s about gender disparities, of course). Today, the barriers that hinder women’s abilities to enter, stay in, progress in, and enjoy construction careers are, in part, a result of historic prejudices. But studies of women’s roles and experiences show that mostly, it is a result of the current social, economic, and cultural situation. Many women have not even considered a career in construction due to a lack of parental role models in the sector, or even discouragement from ill-informed career counsellors. The industry is still perceived to be adversarial and macho, with potential for sexual harassment – no place for a girl.
Statistics show that this perception may actually be accurate, but without an increase in women to balance out the traditional masculine culture, then it will be difficult for the industry to change that perception. Women who do join our industry may experience a conflict between their professional and female identities. Many women perceive that construction is “no place for a girly girl” and find themselves attempting to fit in with a traditional form of masculinity. Many are perceived as not ‘real’ women, but they certainly aren’t men! Dominance of the masculine culture can even have health and safety repercussions. Women are often required to don unfit for purpose PPE equipment, as well as feeling hesitant to report hazards or injuries, for fear of appearing weak in a culture that values strength and robustness. This may put some women at risk of real harm. Women also experience barriers to career progression. Employees who bring in new work are usually considered valuable to a company and given opportunities to progress up the career ladder. Yet, many report that securing work often takes place in a traditionally male-centred environment, such as at golf tournaments or rugby matches, where relationships are formed over pint glasses. Gender-coded dialogue and a long hours culture can add to this, preventing women from gaining traction in these important relationship networks. The long hours culture is widely reported as a problem for women across the construction sector. Women have a greater likelihood of having caring responsibilities outside work and many adopt nontraditional career paths in the industry to suit. This means that they may opt to work more flexibly than their male counterparts. One study suggests that non-traditional approaches to work can be perceived as a ‘feminisation’ of their profession. In workplaces where a blame culture exists, women may struggle to work flexibly, as that culture pressures individuals to work harder and longer, in order to avoid apportionment of blame should it arise. These barriers are recognised by policy makers. Despite decades of initiatives the “burning injustice” (to echo our current Prime Minister) to women in the sector still remains. The pay gap data shows that women engineers experience particular challenges, with wider pay gaps and still huge under-representation. Unsurprisingly, the construction trades have the biggest gaps and have the lowest proportions of women employed. But research suggests that we shouldn’t get too fixated on the numbers. If equality and diversity policies are to be effective, then studies indicate that it is the social and the cultural aspects of the workplace that will create fairness and equity. Focus needs to be on company values and development
of policies that focus on equity, rather than universalism. The ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to company policy isn’t working. Difference is a positive attribute. It brings diversity of thinking and an enhanced collective, cognitive performance to a project. But if difference is to be embraced, then company policies need to focus more on equity – putting in place strategies that empower people with diverse needs, empowering them to engage in a way that is appropriate for them. This meanucing cultures of presenteeism, encouraging men to take responsibility for childcare, and accepted alternatives to the traditional ‘race-to-the-top’ career pathways. In recent decades, the mission to reduce the gendered culture of the construction sector has progressed, but it has only taken baby steps. Meanwhile, the nature of work is changing. The digital revolution has transformed our working practices and enabled time and location independence and flexibility, as well as changes to the way project teams collaborate and interact. In the online world, masculine dominance is weakened. It’s harder to ‘control’ a group and its easier to be heard. Could the 4th Industrial Revolution be the key to a more gender-equitable culture? If so, women and men in construction would be wise to recognise these opportunities to re-imagine and redefine construction’s image, culture, and practice. Perhaps… just perhaps, once the digital revolution has reached maturity, construction will be a sector that can offer fulfilling, long term, and equitable careers, open to, and supportive of, any gender.
Author Biography: Dr. Jenni Barrett is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire and Director of coLAB, an organisation that offers tailored collaboration and management training for the construction industry. Her academic research focusses on gender equity in the construction industry and skills for project team collaboration in digital environments. Jenni can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Women in Construction UK Magazine - June 2019 27
Willmott Dixon lands second Winchester project Willmott Dixon has added to its workload in Winchester by securing a £8.35 million contract from Hampshire County Council to build Barton Farm Academy, the town’s first primary academy school. The company recently started on site with the new Winchester Sport and Leisure Park to replace the River Park Leisure Centre and now adds to that presence in the town with its role to build the 420 place academy for children aged 4-11 at the Kings Barton housing development site. The single storey two-form entry school features a main hall, holistic music and drama studio, ‘discovery point’ library, staff room and workspace, administration offices and parent waiting rooms. The decision to have the school was in response to 2,000 new homes being built on the Barton Farm site so creating a need for further school places. The school will target a BREEAM Excellent energy efficiency rating to provide a sustainable learning environment when it opens in September 2020.
The academy sponsor is the University of Winchester and Professor Joy Carter CBE, DL, Vice-Chancellor of the University and Chair of the University of Winchester Academy Trust, which will run the school, said: “The University is an outstanding provider of teacher education and has a strong track record of raising aspiration among young people. Pupils at the school will benefit from our values-driven ethos, extensive regional school partnerships, our evidence-based learning and teaching, our powerful links with local business and community organisations, and our passionate commitment to social justice and sustainability. The innovative Academy buildings, including state-of-the-art indoor and outdoor learning environments, will also meet our very high standards for sustainability.” The University of Winchester was approved as an academy sponsor by the Department of Education in 2014. Nicola Wells, head teacher designate of the new school said: “I am thrilled to be at the ground breaking ceremony as the first custodian of this beautiful, state of the art setting. I have
designed a curriculum to take full advantage of our extensive indoor and outdoor spaces and, as the first head teacher of the Academy, it is my aim to provide an inspirational and joyful primary school experience for all of our pupils.” Barton Farm Academy has been designed by Hampshire County Council’s in-house team of architects and landscape designers and meets the highest standards for environmental sustainability and will provide inspiring and creative learning spaces for children to flourish. The new school forms part of the County Council investment in new school places across Hampshire. Richard Poulter, managing director of Willmott Dixon in the Central South said: “Willmott Dixon is delighted to be involved in this project. The new school will provide muchneeded inspirational learning spaces. We are always delighted to play a part in supporting the learning of the next generation. As will all our projects we aim to leave a positive legacy in the local community and are targeting 140 apprenticeship weeks on the project.”
HIGH FIVE FOR STEPNELL AS IT COMPLETES TWO MORE LIDL STORES CONSTRUCTION firm Stepnell has delivered two Lidl stores within the Midlands as part of its role in the supermarket’s nationwide expansion.
The new stores – in Loughborough and Droitwich Spa – are the fourth and fifth delivered by Stepnell through the global grocery chain’s UK construction framework. The twin projects follow on from successful builds in Birmingham, Oakham and Bedford. Designed by John Roberts Architects, the supermarkets feature full-height glazed façade and a modern interior, as well as on-site bakeries, management offices and welfare facilities for store employees. The 2,460 square metre Loughborough site has been built on a brownfield area and the steel-framed Droitwich Spa store sits on the Droitwich Spa Retail Park on the edge of the town centre.
28 Women in Construction UK Magazine - June 2019
As well as its work with Lidl GB, Stepnell has also delivered construction projects for well-known brands such as Costa Coffee. Stepnell East Midlands regional director Tom Sewell said: “This latest store takes us to five delivered through the Lidl GB framework and illustrates our ability to deliver high-quality, contemporary supermarkets on tight schedules for one of the country’s leading grocery chains. This continued success highlights our strong track record in retail construction and our ability to deliver challenging projects to the highest level of finish.” Stepnell West Midlands regional director John Rawlinson said: “We are delighted that
Project News Gleeds to project manage Birmingham’s iconic million brick ‘Wall’ monument The winning design for a ground-breaking new national ‘landmark of hope’ in the Midlands, on which international property and construction consultancy Gleeds is appointed as principle client advisor and project manager, has been announced at an exclusive ceremony at the Birmingham Conference and Events Centre, in Birmingham. Over 130 architecture practices from 28 countries submitted their concepts for The Wall of Answered Prayer to the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), with just five making it onto the shortlist for the second round of judging. Marc Chapman, director at Gleeds, was asked to lead a technical team to assess the viability, cost and practicality of build for each of the finalists and, after lengthy consultation, a design by Hampshire-based Snug Architects was selected and secured the contract. Described as a visionary, thought provoking
initiative from a group of Christians across the UK, The Wall of Answered Prayer is to be a lasting monument and piece of public art incorporating part of the client’s requirement for a million bricks – each representing an individual story of hope and faith – to feature in the design. The 50-metre high, arching structure which dominates Snug’s design will be situated on a strategic 10-acre site between the M6, M42 and HS2, and is expected to be seen by more than 300,000 people every day. Following Marc Chapman’s technical guidance during the judging process, Gleeds has been appointed to manage the ambitious scheme moving forward. Commenting on his involvement, he said: “I’m extremely proud to have been asked to join the panel entrusted with assessing the entries for this one-of-a-kind project. Each of the finalist’s designs were of an exceptionally high standard so selecting a winner was no mean feat. Gleeds will now be leading the project team taking The Wall through
to completion and bringing Snug’s inspired concept to life. I am looking forward to starting work on this national monument”. Richard Gamble, Chief Executive with The Wall of Answered Prayer went on to add: “The Wall has been a dream for 15 years but moved into the realms of reality following a successful Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign. In an effort to give back to the communities who have supported us in getting to this point, we will also be donating one million bricks to social housing projects across the UK. I have been blown away by the incredible imagination demonstrated in each of the designs put forward but Snug’s entry was truly awe inspiring and, under Gleeds’ stewardship, I am confident that the finished article will be equally impressive”. The winning submission was commended for its unique interpretation of the brief and appropriately challenging design, featuring complex angles and a stunning representation of a möbius strip – a nonorientable surface which seemingly has no beginning and no end. The mature and experienced team behind the design had confidence during the judging period and this contributed to its ultimate selection. Speaking about the practice’s selection, Paul Bulkeley, Design Director at Snug Architects said: “It is an honour to have been chosen to design and deliver this project of national significance. We are excited by the vision behind this ground-breaking design and are looking forward to working with the team. At Snug Architects we believe this will be a structure that both inspires and engages visitors for many years to come.” It is hoped that The Wall will be completed in time to launch with the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games.
the Droitwich Spa store is a continuation of our successful association with Lidl GB. As a complete construction partner, we have worked alongside Lidl to ensure a high quality of build that has used local construction workers and suppliers throughout. The store is a testament to our great working relationship with Lidl GB and we hope to partner with them on further stores in the future.” John Roberts Architects director Richard Mair said: “These projects are always high-pressure and need a well-organised contractor to deliver them to the very tight programmes, so we were happy to work with Stepnell again for our fourth Lidl store together.”
Women in Construction UK Magazine - June 2019 29
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