This year’s International Women’s Day theme, #ChooseToChallenge, is a call-to-action to challenge the status quo by raising awareness against gender bias, celebrating women’s achievements, and taking action towards equality.
We love this year’s theme, as challenging the gender stereotypes and biases within the construction industry is at the heart of what we work towards at SHAPE. We firmly believe that creating a workplace where everyone, regardless of gender, is free to be themselves is the key to creating the best place to work.
The construction industry is the second lowest-ranked industry of female participation, making up only 18.3% of the total construction workforce, and has the lowest proportion of women in management roles of all industries surveyed at just 13.1%.
Since 2014, SHAPE has had an unrelenting focus on challenging these industry trends by improving leadership behaviours and capabilities across the business to build an organisational culture where people feel comfortable being themselves, sharing their ideas, and supporting each other.
We have invested heavily in leadership development programs and measurement tools to support this vision. The most recent organisational culture survey, conducted by global organisational development company Human Synergistics, placed SHAPE’s operating culture in the top 10 per cent of companies in its global database.
SHAPE’s leadership and culture transformation has led to a commitment to improving diversity and inclusion. A key feature of SHAPE’s strategy has been developing a Gender Action Plan, designed to build and maintain a compelling employment proposition for women. These initiatives include:
- Development of a fair pay policy
- Instilled a leadership team commitment
- Formalised flexible working
- Individual career plans
- Generous parental leave entitlements
- Compulsory discrimination, harassment and unconscious bias training are delivered company-wide and to all new starters.
- SHAPE women have the opportunity to access tailored training on how to increase confidence and overcome the general barriers women may face at work.
- Networking opportunities both within SHAPE and through organisations such as NAWIC & WIDAC
- Recruitment targets set
These efforts have seen a significant change across the organisation. SHAPE’s female participation is currently at 26 per cent and is steadily increasing. The building cadet and project coordinator participation has increased to 40 per cent, and Project Manager participation from seven per cent in 2017 to 19 per cent.
With SHAPE’s organic promote-from-within approach, we have a strategy to increase female representation amongst senior leadership by investing in and developing the great talent within the organisation and expected more positive changes to be seen over the next 12 months.