“Creating gender balance is a social challenge and a strategic one for business”

Sara Prendergast, Senior Finance Executive at Downer and Diversity Researcher & Advocate, was awarded the 2017 National Association of Women in Construction Scholarship and has written a compelling report on how companies can better attract women to the construction industry, which is relevant to all operations industries.  Here are some of the key findings:

  • Cascading reporting from executive to crew level on gender diversity is required to disrupt the status quo and to change the view of who is accountable for identifying solutions to the perceived challenges in increasing gender diversity and therefore attracting women to operational roles.
  • There is a need to cast the labour net wide! Vacant operational roles must be communicated through advertisements for female employees – outside the current male labour pool (and channels), to reach and attract diverse applicants. Continuing to advertise and select employees from the same sources and channels will only ensure the same outcomes around diversity.
  • Being specific about what the role requires and what it doesn’t from position description, to advertising, to screening is essential. The research demonstrated that women tended to assume applicants need to fulfil 100% of the selection criteria. If experience is not required – state it! If training is provided – state it!
  • Understand where an organisation’s labour comes from and the drivers and motivators for sourcing applicants. Ensure external talent agencies, labour hire agencies, and internal talent and sourcing departments have contractual terms or key performance criteria that ensure applicants are diverse, and have a cultural and strategic fit.
  • Find and use communication mediums that reach ALL employees within the organisation will be required to attract women to operational roles. Workforces cannot help achieving the diversity strategy

Click here for Sara’s full report, titled ‘What does effective attraction of females to operational roles look like’?