Wates to drive up female representation
With the UK suffering a shortage of skilled workers within the construction sector, one company is looking to boost figures through a directed plan to double female representation within the company by 2025.
Wates Group, one of the UK’s leading privately-owned construction, development and property services companies, has signalled its intention to dramatically improve the gender balance of its workforce at all levels, with women accounting for 40% by 2025.
The target is one of a series of milestones outlined in the company’s new Diversity and Inclusion Plan: #WatesTogether, a long-term blueprint for creating a business where everyone is welcomed, included and connected. These include (by 2025):
- having a workforce which is more reflective of society, with 60% men, 40% women, 20% BAME, 3% with a disability and 5% LGBTQ+ across all levels of the business
- 50% of the Group’s early careers intake to be female
- 5% of new recruits will be career returners
To do this, Wates will carry out a number of activities including launching an inclusive leadership programme, developing a mixed mentoring programme and reviewing its recruitment policies and processes.
In addition, the plan commits the company to overhauling its parental leave and flexible working policies, improving the gender pay gap and collaborating across industry to help drive sector-wide change, for example through a new industry-wide inclusion working group.
The release of the plan coincides with the announcement of the appointment of Nikunj Upadhyay as Group Head of Diversity and Inclusion. Nikunj, who joins Wates on 30 September from Barclays, where she is Vice President, D&I, will lead the adoption of the plan, reporting to Group HR Director, Paul Rowan.
Wates Chief Executive, David Allen, said: “The entire built environment sector needs to change to become more representative of the society we serve. At Wates we want a role in leading that change. Our plan summarises our approach, our goals and our commitment to be a business where everyone is welcomed, included and connected.
“We’re delighted to welcome Nikunj Upadhyay to our Leadership team to lead this important work. Through her experience at Barclays, and earlier at HSBC and Accenture, Nikunj has overseen the implementation of initiatives focused on increasing the representation of women and engagement of under-represented groups, as well as programmes to promote flexible working. We look forward to welcoming her as we continue our journey to becoming a more inclusive and better business.”
Nikunj Upadhyay said: “For me, an inclusive workplace is where we feel our individuality is cherished and we can be confident to bring our whole self to work. I am looking forward to joining Wates and to working with everyone to deliver the ambition of #WatesTogether, where each one of us not only feels included but is also thriving.”
The publication of #WatesTogether follows the launch earlier this year of Wates Group’s Guiding Framework. The Framework guides everything Wates does, defining the purpose that motivates its people, the goals they are working to achieve, and the behaviours expected of everyone working there.
The industry has welcomed Wates’ initiative, Suzannah Nichol MBE, Chief Executive of Build UK, said: “Our industry offers a huge range of exciting and rewarding career opportunities and we can do so much more to create inclusive work environments which get the best out of everyone. It is great to see Wates, a Build UK Member, setting out a clear plan of action to recruit, train and retain people with the ambition and skills we need to deliver projects both now, and in the future, and I look forward to sharing their success. By working together, the whole supply chain can encourage the next generation to come and join us.”
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