Two employees at Hungerford-based David Wilson Homes Southern are highlighting their experiences with diversity in the workplace for International Women’s Day (8th March).
International Women’s Day is taking place on Wednesday 8th March, and this year’s campaign theme is #EmbraceEquity. Equity recognises that each person has different circumstances, and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that in quarter four of 2022, 2,171,000 people in the UK worked in construction. Out of those people, just 321,000, 14.7% were women.
Based in Hungerford, David Wilson Homes Southern is building new homes across Berkshire and Oxfordshire under the Barratt Homes and David Wilson Homes brands.
Emma Hawkins joined the developer’s Southern team as Sales Director last year, and began her role in the industry as a Trainee Sales Adviser in February 2012.
She said: “My dad has always worked in the industry – he talked highly of it and appeared to have great job satisfaction. He encouraged my transition from hospitality to housebuilding, recognising there were a number of skills that would benefit a sales career.
“Whilst I believe more women are joining construction roles, I do also think we are still under represented in senior roles and in the industry’s construction departments specifically, such as in site management.”
Emma believes it is important to promote equality within the industry, and has noticed a shift in diversity over the period of time she has worked for the developer.
She said: “It is important to encourage more women into the industry to achieve a more balanced view. It brings an additional and dynamic view in decision making and also enhances the overall behaviour of the business and industry, which allows people to feel they can be their true self.
“As a female working for Barratt and David Wilson Homes, I believe the company does offer good support and opportunities for women, I believe I am treated equally and not impacted by gender.
“The catalyst programme which we have in place at the company recognises women in construction, allowing them to attend courses alongside fellow women, share experiences and talk openly about challenges; this also allows a support network to be developed.
“There’s also enhanced maternity and paternity, which is an agile working policy that offers flexibility that is needed at times to help with childcare and related experiences.”
A new Marketing Manager has also recently joined the team at David Wilson Homes Southern, and is highlighting her experience with diversity in the workplace.
Vicky Heyes joined the developer’s team in February, and began her career in the industry as Marketing Executive for Barratt Homes Bristol in July 2019. Since joining the industry, she has quickly worked her way up through the ranks to Marketing Manager.
Vicky, from Somerset, said: “No two days or weeks are the same in my role. My job varies from planning, budgeting and performance analysis, to managing customer relationship management content, the company website and public relations.
“I also oversee the process for the start-up of new developments, by working with our technical and construction departments to create beautiful sales complexes. This also includes working with interior designers for our show homes.
“At the time of applying for the Marketing Executive role in 2019, I was already living on a Barratt Homes development in Bristol. My customer journey experience with the company was really enjoyable and I’ve always had an interest in property – I’m a real homebody!
“I also have a keen interest in interior design, so following a career in construction made sense for me – I’ve never looked back.”
Vicky believes that Barratt and David Wilson Homes is helping to combat industry-wide barriers for women in construction, by promoting an inclusive environment and providing more opportunities for women to join.
She said: “I think it’s fair to say that the construction industry is still predominantly male, but the culture within the industry is changing – especially within the company.
“At Barratt and David Wilson Homes, we have an ‘under one roof’ gender equality forum and catalyst programme, designed for women wanting to go into management.
“There’s a culture of development and improvement within the company which is fully supported by human resources on a national level. There’s also a culture of inclusiveness, and if you need any additional help, line managers are always willing to provide their support. There are also bi-annual performance development reviews, but of course employees can raise anything before then.
“It is important to encourage more women into the industry to show future generations that there are always roles available for them – plus there’s more to construction than being out on site building houses.
“As a woman, I feel that my career ambitions are fully supported and is evidenced so far in my own progression. Plus, it’s nice to see that we have a growing cohort of female site managers.”
When asked about what advice Vicky would give to women joining the construction industry, she said: “Go for it! There’s more to construction than you may first think.”
Emma said: “It is a great sector to work in with a huge variety – no day is the same!”
Employees at David Wilson Homes Southern are currently hosting an internal collection of ‘smart clothes’ in support of Smart Works, a charity that dresses and coaches unemployed women in preparation for job interviews.
For more information about the career opportunities available at Barratt and David Wilson Homes, visit www.barrattcareers.co.uk.
To found out more about local developments by Barratt and David Wilson Homes, visit www.barratthomes.co.uk or www.dwh.co.uk, or call the sales team on 033 3355 8487.