Like many sectors, social housing and its supply chain has been working hard to cement diversity and equality at its core. But it’s important to remember that just 14% of construction (and related sectors) workers are female. This could be down to many reasons, but probably starts with schools and careers advice. How many girls are encouraged down the construction route? Is there still conscious bias about what careers are right for different genders? Equally importantly, the perception of our sector to the outside world, to all those potential groups currently not involved, can sometimes feel outdated and unattractive. It’s true we can’t erase history and we are where we are, but we need to move away from ‘bricks and mortar’ thinking and focus on promoting customer service, the softer skills, the data focus and technology talent we employ every day.
John Lord, Purdy MD comments: “At Purdy we practice what we preach, and the business currently benefits from the input of females across all levels of our business from our Chair, Directors, senior leadership, to electricians and gas engineers delivering the services in our customers’ homes. We value inclusivity and diversity throughout the business. We are smashing the stereotype, but in a measured and sustainable way. At a recent Women In Social Housing (WISH) event I attended, the progress we’ve made as a business was really brought home to me. Women represented just 7% of the organisations at the event, in contrast with at Purdy where this number is 26%. While we’re pleased with this benchmark position, we still have a long way to go.
“It frustrates me that we still have to talk about gender diversity as it should just be a given, but I accept we have to be able to continue to attract people by offering Equal Opportunities to talented people across the board for all. As well as keeping the issue top of mind through blogs like this, on a practical level, Purdy anonymises CVs to ensure individuals are judged and recruited on merit, skills and experience. We also pledge on some contracts we work on to visit three schools every year to introduce the construction sector, show how variable and attractive it is, and to showcase the opportunities we have here at Purdy. We are about to establish our first ever EDI council across the Group..
“Although we do have a long way to go, over the last 5 -10 years, I personally have seen a massive step change. It’s encouraging to know that attitudes are changing positively in the construction industry.”
Trade Skills 4U data shows specifically how gender disparate being electrician is (just 1 in every 1,000 electrical contractors a woman) so we thought we’d chat to some of our team!
Shauna Filbee is a Year Two Gas Engineer Apprentice who is hoping to qualify and become GasSafe early next year. “It’s a fantastic job in a fantastic sector. No two days are the same, and variety is the pace of life. I love it,!
Beth is an Electrician who has been qualified and working for us for two years. Beth is so passionate about the sector that she even runs her own Lady Electric Instagram account which is set up specifically to attract more females to become electricians. “If you want a job where you get the chance to meet different people every day and have the opportunity to solve their problems, this is the job for you. Being a woman should not stop you!”
Nikki Hobbs : Joining Purdy in 2012, Nikki has been a qualified electrician for 13 years. “I always knew I wanted a trade to have a skill for life. Originally when I went to college to choose which trade, I was thinking about becoming a bricklayer, but loved the electrical department there. So I signed up and that was me set for life! The job offers variety, new challenges every day, and the chance to help people in their homes.”
Fay Poddington – Customer Liaison Officer. Since joining Purdy, Fay has been on an upward career progression and fulfils the important role of Customer Liaison Officer. “I’ve worked on many contracts for a variety of our social housing clients and their customers, so have built a solid understanding of what is needed. I love the fact that I can help people, make a difference and also if there are complaints, resolve them in a friendly and fast way. It’s an amazing job suitable for anybody who loves variety and communications!”