March 07, 2019
This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is ‘Balance for Better’. By being conscious of the gender disparity throughout the world, we’re able to forge collective action towards a better balanced world, allowing both women and men to flourish equally.
The future of diversity within the construction industry is exciting and it’s tangible. Creating better gender balances within the workforce is not only woman’s issue, it’s a business issue. Women bring a different dynamic to any job or industry, but given that the construction industry is male-dominated, a female presence is acutely noticeable. Only 11% of the construction industry is comprised of women in Australia, and a meagre 1% of all tradespersons. Even though women currently make up a small percentage of Australia’s construction workforce, this cohort is growing and the number of women choosing to start a career in this industry is increasing. This increased female presence has facilitated the development of greater opportunities and resources geared towards encouraging, promoting and nurturing an environment in which women can thrive.
Terri Lester, one of Workfast’s employees, has been in the industry for over 15 years. She says the way that women are regarded in the workplace has dramatically improved during her time. “I think the younger generation is challenging the status quo and they’re altering it from the perceived ‘boys club’ and making it more welcoming and accepting towards women”.
Terri has recently worked as an electrical trade assistant on the new Sydney Metro Northwest Rapid Transit (NRT) Project for UGL through Workfast. She was quickly appointed to a leading hand position, and managed a team of several other trade assistants. When asked about the attitude towards women onsite, her answer is strong and encouraging: “Most of the guys I’ve worked with have been great. You still get some guys who aren’t used to seeing women onsite working alongside them, but that’s changing. I’m not afraid to stand up for myself. I’ve worked with some unpleasant people but I ignore them and don’t let them get to me, they’re not worth the hassle”.
Terri’s generally on the night shift, so she doesn’t tend to work with a lot of women. However, when there is another female on-site, it’s great. “We have a lot of fun and support each other. It’s important to be there for the other girls because the reality is, you’re a minority. On the NRT Project there was another lady and we made sure that we had lunch together every shift.”
At Workfast, we’re committed to creating a better balanced workplace. We are conscious that women’s requirements can be different to men’s - i.e. family commitments need to be taken into consideration, as well as maternal leave, and even the provision of PPE that is suitable for women’s body shapes. These are just a few of the important factors that we need to be aware of, in order to make women feel more comfortable.
Workfast are active participants in promoting and engaging women in the industry through attending various events organised by the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) and Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA).
Nikki Sparkes, Workfast’s Social Responsibility Manager, has received the honour of being an ambassador in the upcoming Women in Construction event in Sydney. We’re thrilled that she has been given the opportunity to engage with fellow men and women in the construction industry, to learn and implement ways that we can move forward towards creating a progressive and more positive gender-balanced industry.
Make International Women's Day YOUR day - and do what you can to truly make a positive difference for women everywhere. Be sure to tag your photos with the IWD hashtag, #BalanceforBetter, to start the global conversation about how we can create a better, more balanced world.