Most modern businesses recognise the importance of workplace diversity.
Unfortunately, the act of achieving this is not always so simple…
One area that this is particularly relevant for us at D&C Building Careers Australia is the gender imbalance that plagues the construction industry. Encouragingly, we’re finding that as the benefits of a diverse workplace become increasingly understood throughout Australia, our clients are hoping to diversify their workplace.
And, of course, we want to help them achieve these goals.
The male dominance seen in the construction industry is well documented. Women make up only 12% of the total construction workforce, and less than 2% of trades related work. Of course, this has little to do with skills and abilities, and more to do with a cultural problem where construction is seen as ‘men’s work’. Other issues, such as management roles being set up in a way that is disadvantageous to women, are also problematic. So how can recruiters help?
For a start, recruiters can talk to clients. Help your clients reframe their hiring criteria in a way which will encourage women to apply. As an example, women in the workplace often have less experience than their male counterparts due to factors such as extended family care, and gender bias they have previously faced. Question whether your clients’ experience requirements are truly necessary, or if they are just hindering women from even applying. Furthermore, make sure their workplace is suitable, safe, and supportive for women. How do they protect women from harassment? Are there any female mentors in the business? Many of our clients ask for help in improving their gender balance, and recruiters can make this a realistic goal for them.
Another tack recruiters can take to help achieve gender equality is through our attempts to squash the pervasive and negative stereotypes about women in particular industries. Some ideas for this could be to use images of women working in construction as advertising material, or to share articles about female leaders in technical fields.
Lastly, an important factor for recruiters to consider is who their job ads are really targeting. A recent study from Seek reveals that job ads are often inadvertently ‘gendered’ and appeal more to either men or women. For instance, the words ‘independent, competitive, and determined’ tend towards the masculine, while ‘responsible, dedicated, and conscientious’ are subconsciously perceived to be more feminine.
Of course, there are many factors that contribute to gender inequality in the workplace. These examples are just a small way that recruiters can do their part to contribute to achieving diversity in the workplace. At D&C, we think of gender balance as part of our social responsibility and believe that recruiters can absolutely play a role in achieving this.