International Women’s Day: Hope Thorley, Senior Recruitment Advisor

10 March, 2021

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The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘Choose to Challenge’.  This to me symbolises the courage to challenge and feeling supported to do so. My support stemmed from my family and friends during my education and now in my career, through my colleagues.

The support I have received through the years has given me the confidence to speak up, share what I am enthusiastic about, and encourage others to do the same. International Women’s Day reminds me to try and always pass that support on – especially as I know I have been lucky enough to have had that support myself.

As a recruitment professional working within the construction sector, I am extremely passionate about establishing change and the need to balance the historical gender inequality that has been particularly prominent within the industry.

According to an article published by goconstruct.org in 2021, women make up around 14 per cent of construction industry professionals. Looking at this statistic, I question why it is that women only make up 14% of construction professionals. There are several reasons that a gender gap exists within the industry; legacy issue of stereotypes, conscious or unconscious bias, whatever the reason, it must be a call to action. A key point from the above article is that this number is set to rise, as 37 per cent of new entrants into the construction industry this year are women.

It is proven that recruiting more women into the industry and establishing a more diverse and inclusive workforce allows for greater innovation, stronger working relationships, different team dynamics and better solutions. This is demonstrated by an article published by Forbes in 2019, which showcased research by Boston Consulting Group that identified diverse teams produced 19 per cent more revenue.

At Pick Everard, attracting and retaining a diverse and inclusive workforce is at the forefront of our recruitment strategy as we recognise the value and enhanced creativity it can bring.

As an internal recruiter I am proactive in my approach to ensure we are employing and retaining a diverse workforce. I work closely with my peers to ensure we are building a culture where difference is valued and where all people are welcomed no matter who they are or what their background is. There are several talent attraction methods we use from advertising on differing job boards, our ‘Refer a Friend’ scheme, and de-identifying CVs. However, a campaign close to my heart is ‘Being Pick Everard.’

In 2019 we launched ‘Being Pick Everard’ – a careers initiative to showcase ‘What is your Pick Everard story?’ with the aim to present career stories of our colleagues from various disciplines and regions.  We created something that is identifiable as Pick Everard, which represents our diversity, is relatable and provides new and inspiring perspectives on what it is like to develop a career here. For me, our careers campaign demonstrates what lies under the skin of our corporate brand and provides roles models and inspiring stories for those wanting to step into a career within the industry.

At Pick Everard we strive to deliver a positive and unbiased selection process, making sure that all candidates feel they have had a fair application process. We recruit based on competence and performance regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, or cultural background.

Below I have listed several things to consider to make sure that your recruitment process remains fair and free from bias:

  • Remove gender bias from job descriptions and adverts – At Pick Everard we always try to ensure the language we use is gender neutral. The purpose of gender neutral language is to avoid certain words or phrases which may be interpreted as biased, demeaning, or discriminatory, by implying that one social gender or sex is the norm. Gender-fair and inclusive language helps reduce stereotyping, promotes social change, helps contribute towards achieving gender equality and therefore doesn’t deter applicants from applying. For example, instead of saying “highly competitive”, you could use “truly innovative”. Katmatfield has produced a great resource to ensure your adverts are free from bias.
  • Blind hiring – this helps to eliminate any unconscious bias in decision making, that may be susceptible to details about gender. Whether this be at candidate shortlisting and review stage, or during an interview, blind hiring allows for reviews and scoring to be objective and not subjective. Here is a great piece written by Ideal, which details how to reduce bias and increase diversity.
  • Have a diverse interview panel – try to elect a gender diverse interview panel as this may reduce the risk of unconscious bias. A diverse interview panel can also provide candidates with a better experience, also highlighting you are an inclusive organisation.

In addition to looking at our recruitment process, we recognise the value of attracting women into the industry from a grass roots level. As a practice we attend school, college and university careers fairs each year, and host industry specific presentations, detailing top tips on how to kick start your career within construction and property.

I am very passionate about increasing our diverse workforce at Pick Everard and achieving better representation for women in construction. I see diversity and Inclusion as more than just a talking point, as it plays an ever-changing role in how we shape the talent density of our practice. Diversity and Inclusivity strengthens our ability to revolutionise, influence the employee experience, shape stakeholders’ perceptions and overall service our clients in the best possible way.

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