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Flexible working is the key

Flexible working options are key in making construction a more attractive and progressive career choice for female talent, according to an RICS poll which revealed the top recommendations industry professionals believe will help employers encourage more female talent into the property sector.

Women make up around 14% of the construction industry’s workforce, therefore it comes as no surprise that 48% of respondents to RICS’ poll* voted flexible working options as the top recommendation to help encourage and retain more female talent in the property and construction sector. This was followed by the need for more firms to raise awareness of their successful female role models (31%), wider pay gap reporting (14%) and better return to work programmes (7%).

Barry Cullen, Head of Future Talent, Diversity & Inclusion at RICS commented: “Unfortunately we see the highest proportion of female chartered surveyors leave the profession between the ages of 28-35, most likely to raise a family and/or pursue a career change that fits around their family life. However, with the right network of support, these skilled and experienced women should be given the opportunity to return to the industry, and gain any new skills or knowledge required to do their job effectively.

“Employers need to realise that offering flexible working can go a long way in helping to retain talented men and women who have parental responsibilities as it often increases employee morale, engagement, and commitment to the organisation.”

One young surveyor who is reaping the benefits of flexible working and an employer committed to championing the success of their female talent is Laura Collins, an associate mechanical and electrical (M&E) quantity surveyor at Rider Levett Bucknall (RLB).

Despite being a busy mum to a young daughter, Laura triumphed over 75 surveyors from all over the UK to win the esteemed ‘UK Young Surveyor of the Year’ title after her employer nominated her in the RICS Matrics Young Surveyor of the Year Awards, 2018. She was recognised for her exceptional expertise in cost and project managing complex global property projects and her commitment to inspiring the next generation to consider a career in construction.

Laura commented: “It’s certainly not easy, balancing busy work and raising a child, but support from my employer allows me to flourish in my career, and helps me give something back to the firm. I have friends in other lines of work who find it so restrictive to juggle a career and a family. But I think our industry is starting to realise the benefits of flexible working and the increased productivity it often generates.”

She adds: “I was incredibly proud to be awarded the ‘UK Young Surveyor of the Year’ title. It has helped to raise my profile in the industry and awareness of my career journey, which I hope will inspire others.

“I’m lucky that my employer is forward thinking in how they raise awareness of and reward their female talent, and other firms are also excelling in this area too. However, more employers need to follow suit in sharing the success stories of their female role models as this will help us inspire more young women to consider a role in the industry.”

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