Building a more diverse future championing women in construction
We recently caught up with Pre-Construction Director, Jacqui Bell, and Senior Social Value Manager, Joy Woods, as we continue to support the Women in Property Midlands Awards as regional sponsor. They tell us about why they are keen to support other women starting their journey in construction.
Why is it important for ISG to support the Women in Property Midlands Student Awards?
Jacqui: “As part of our commitment to our people, (ISG is 14th in Best Companies™ ‘Best Big Companies to Work For’ list), we also need to ensure that we have a strong skills pipeline, and that means playing our part in supporting students who have a desire to enter property/construction. Celebrating the high standards they are achieving and providing opportunities for career progression is crucial for the growth and success of the industry.”
Joy: “Promoting and supporting diversity and inclusion in the sector is a key priority for ISG. Through sponsorship of the Midlands Student Awards and similar programmes, we help students to build their interpersonal skills, grow their network and showcase excellent talent in the region.”
What are the benefits of working in construction?
Jacqui: “From my perspective construction is ever-changing which provides opportunities to learn and rise to challenges on a daily basis. It also provides the opportunity to leave a legacy and seeing projects I have been involved with provide tangible benefits to a local community is incredibly satisfying.”
Joy: “I really value the opportunity to work across a diverse suite of projects, with a variety of clients and community stakeholders, supported by ISG and my colleagues to develop skills and grow within my role.”
What advice would you give to young women entering the industry?
Jacqui: “Don’t join with any preconceived ideas on gender-biased roles – all options are available to everyone. Find allies where you can and use them. And don’t be afraid to make your voice heard.”
Joy: “Ask lots of questions, and take up opportunities to get involved in initiatives which broaden your understanding in as many areas of the sector as possible. Take time for reflection, and recognise your achievements and growth along the way.”
Jacqui, how can we attract more female candidates into the industry?
“Earlier engagement with schools and colleges to present construction as an option – and vitally, the breadth of roles that are available within the industry. Ideally where we are working in an education environment, we should schedule site tours and presentations for both primary and secondary schools.
Additionally, I believe that we should publicise the programmes in place to support females in construction more – such as maternity provision, hybrid working patterns, menopause support, etc. This may be accomplished by showcasing more female role models within the industry.”
What makes you proud of working in construction?
Jacqui: “I’m proud to be able to support and help people in our teams to advance and develop their careers while being part of a team that delivers projects that make tangible positive benefits to our communities.”
Joy: “When individuals share their stories on how our support has helped them make positive change in their lives. I’m really proud of the whole social value team at ISG, we have a genuine passion for doing the right thing and supporting communities to thrive.”
ISG’s latest Wide Angle, 'Rethinking the skills conundrum', examines how, in an era dominated by skills crises and talent shortages, the built environment is a significantly underused indicator of future skills and workforce requirements.
How do you think we can better map future skills requirements against construction investment?
Jacqui: “We need greater coordination at a government and industry level, engaging earlier with individuals, parents, carers, educators and training organisations. Women in Property’s strong links with education and industry offers a great forum for these important conversations, helping to transform how the UK upskills and prepares for careers of the future. This works hand in hand with continuing to change the perception of the industry to attract a more diverse workforce with the wide range of skills and roles we need.”
Do you have a message for this year’s Midlands winners? Jacqui: We’d like to congratulate Elsie Gribbon and Aimée Darley, and all of the finalists. It’s wonderful to see such a diverse group of smart young women who are eager to begin their journey in the built environment. We are honoured to be part of a network helping to diversify the talent needed in our evolving industry.