SHAPE celebrates 2022 International Women’s Day to #BreakTheBias

SHAPE celebrates 2022 International Women’s Day (IWD) with events in seven states across Australia to applaud the achievements of women in the industry. Raising awareness of this year’s theme, #BreakTheBias, which aims to challenge gender bias, discrimination and stereotyping, SHAPIANS posed for images with arms crossed in solidarity.

The construction industry has one of the lowest rates of female participation in the country, with women accounting for just 25 per cent of the workforce. This reduces to 17 per cent of women in managerial roles – the lowest of any industry.

For almost a decade, SHAPE has implemented numerous programs and policies to challenge these trends and gender biases within the industry, including the Gender Action Plan. Designed to create and maintain a compelling employment proposition for women, the plan includes initiatives such as individualised career plans, tailored training to increase confidence and overcome general barriers that women face at work, and networking opportunities both internally and with industry organisations, such as NAWIC and WIDAC.

To accelerate career advancement for female Project Engineers and Project Managers, SHAPE launched an internal Sponsorship Program in July 2020. This led to a dramatic increase in female participation, with female Project Engineers increasing from 29 per cent to 39 per cent, Project Managers from 21 per cent to 35 per cent, and Senior Project Managers from 7 per cent to 25 per cent.

Following on from these initiatives, SHAPE launched its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Action Plan in July 2021 to ensure it continues to build an environment where all people feel welcomed, celebrated and a sense of belonging. One of SHAPE’s core beliefs is that having a diverse workforce will help it to facilitate innovation, forge strong client relationships and create better business solutions. The plan includes strategies directly supporting the employment and career empowerment of women. These include training hiring managers and new starters on unconscious bias, developing campaigns to recruit women in underrepresented areas of the business, supporting flexible work, and providing quiet spaces for privacy requirements, such as breastfeeding.

As part of the DEI Action Plan, SHAPE also conducts an annual gender pay gap analysis to ensure a zero pay gap for like-for-like roles. The construction industry has the largest pay gap of any industry in Australia, with women earning, on average, 30.6 per cent less than men. Of the 10 industries with the largest pay gap, construction is the only one to have had an increase since the 2013-2014 reporting period (up 2.6 percentage points).

These initiatives have resulted in female participation increasing to 30 per cent – higher than the industry average. This figure is steadily growing, with 50 per cent of SHAPE’s FY21 cadet hires identifying as female.

In recognition for its commitment to diversity, flexibility, Indigenous reconciliation, safety and culture, SHAPE was awarded one of Australia’s Top 10 Best Places to Work in Property, Construction & Transport by AFR BOSS in 2021.

Having worked for 17 years in a male-dominated industry, with some of the lowest rates of female participant in the country, breaking unconscious gender biases has always been a top priority of mine. This year’s IWD theme is a reminder that action needs to be taken to ensure women, and people with different backgrounds, perspectives and life experiences, are supported, celebrated, and empowered in construction. SHAPE is proud of its commitment to advancing equal opportunity and shaping a workforce where people feel comfortable being themselves, sharing ideas, and supporting each other.

Kate Evans, Group Executive – People, Brand and Communications at SHAPE

Today, we celebrate the achievements of our talented female SHAPIANS and their contribution to breaking the bias in the construction industry.

  • Pam Sydney in ACT placed in the 2021 Top 100 Women in Construction for her contribution towards making the industry a better place for women.
  • 50% of the project management team on the PWC Skilled Services Hub project in South Australia identify as female.
  • Over the last 12 months, SHAPE has helped grow the careers of 26 female employees that were promoted to higher positions.
  • SHAPE implements flexibility and work/life balance schemes that support women to not only grow their careers but grow outside their career. In the past 12 months, Yvette Wenn (WA) and Erin Oxley (QLD) both took leave without pay to travel around Australia. On Erin’s return, she was promoted to Senior Project Manager.
  • With branches in seven states, SHAPE assists employees looking for a sea change. Victoria Bartlett (VIC) relocated to SA through SHAPE, while Mel Best (NSW) has been working in NT on a secondment for over 12 months. SHAPE also helped Dominique Flaherty (VIC) relocate with her family to SA for a 12-month secondment.