International Women’s Day: 30 Minutes with the Systems Launch Team

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International Women’s Day: 30 Minutes with the Systems Launch Team

Today we are celebrating International Women’s Day and Women in Construction Week with something a little bit different, and certainly very meaningful!

ODGroup are proud to announce that our all-female systems team has successfully pitched, configured and launched a raft of new integrated platforms that will put our business in a market-leading position, both in terms of our offering to clients and our accountability around health, safety and the environment. Our journey with Procore, SustainIQ, InnDex and BidWork started last year, and has mixed off the shelf products with detailed bespoke development. When the team at Procore mentioned Jaspreet Sahota, Sarah Snowdon, Holly Eddleston-Lee, Caroline Moran, Jozefa Lewis and Lorna Killick of ODGroup are the first and only all-female systems team they have worked with across their international portfolio of clients, we thought it was something to celebrate – particularly as women generally make up less than 15% of workers in the construction industry.

Not only is the ODGroup team made up of women championing change, but they have been working alongside female technology partners within SustainIQ and Procore – Marta Moure, Ruxandra Cordea, Maria Diffley and Caoimhe Glover. We took a welcome coffee break with the team to talk about their experiences and thoughts on the future.

Q: What have you enjoyed about the experience of working on this project?

Marta: First of all, and sadly, the novelty of it! It was an exciting change.  Different teams work in different ways no matter if they are all male, female or mixed but what I enjoyed the most about OD is that they seemed to always be in sync, willing to help each other out and above all, very knowledgeable and well prepared for our meetings.

Ruxandra: The team dynamic is hugely supportive and collaborative, with a shared understanding of the challenges faced by women in construction and a sense of empowerment from being a team of women breaking barriers in a male-dominated field. There exists the opportunity to build close bonds because, in a male-dominated industry, I find it easier to form connections with other women who understand the unique challenges we face. Additionally, I truly believe and I witnessed women often bringing a different perspective to the workplace, which can lead to more creative solutions and a more inclusive working environment.

Maria: This project has given us a greater understanding of how ESG reporting processes operate within a busy fit-out company in London. It has been fantastic to deal with a female lead implementation team in ODGroup and compliment that with project management and software development deployment team at SustainIQ. It’s really not that often we get to witness women with prominent leadership roles within the construction industry, but it just goes to show there is a lure for female tech roles and sustainability especially in construction at the moment. Practically, I believe the all-female implementation team has ensured we have very clear communication and goals which are monitored closely, with no ambiguity in terms of expectations.

Caoimhe: Working with an all-female systems deployment team has been a really insightful and enjoyable experience. The team were so clear in their explanation of ODGroup’s needs and requirements for the project and I feel that on the whole we collaborated really well. Something that I think is unique to an all-female team is that there was consistent communication throughout, and neither side were hesitant to ask when we needed clarification on something, which made everything run a lot smoother. There was a nice sense of camaraderie and connection in that we all shared a common goal and had the shared experiences working male-dominated industries.

Jozefa: The collaborative process. The team have provided a great space to share ideas. We cover many disciplines within our roles therefore approached the project from various perspectives. It’s felt very beneficial to the process that we have integrated each other’s expertise and collaborated from the outset which I think is evident in the final outcome.

Jaspreet: Working in a male dominated industry, it has been a welcome and refreshing change. I think this shows that our industry is changing for the better and more women are getting into construction.

Q: What have your experiences been as a woman working in or alongside the construction industry?

Sarah: Being a woman in construction has been a challenging and often solo endeavour for me personally, but I really feel this is changing now.  I am rarely the only woman on a building site these days, and I feel that women are viewing this industry as a viable career option more and more.

Caroline: There’s been a significant change over the past 15+ years; from some people finding it hard to take women seriously in this industry, to us being accepted as professionals and colleagues. There has been an increase in numbers especially in the traditional operational roles and as leaders within teams, which has definitely helped. I don’t think we’re there yet as a sector… but it’s moving in the right direction.

Caoimhe: I have had a really positive experience so far. I have found that in many of the construction companies that we work with, women are at the forefront in driving the SustainIQ project forward within their respective companies leading on ESG, HSEQ and CSR. I find it really inspiring to see women in these leadership roles being so early into my career.

Ruxandra: Women working both in or alongside the construction industry often face challenges related to gender discrimination and lack of representation in leadership roles. However, there are also women who are breaking barriers and making significant contributions to the industry. They are advocating for gender diversity, creating support networks for women in construction, and sharing their experiences to inspire and encourage others.

Jozefa: I think that the industry has been working hard to redefine construction as a more inclusive sector. I’ve been fortunate to work amongst great advocates for inclusivity at ODGroup. There is still work to be done throughout the industry; however the key for me has been building environments are genuinely inclusive where all perspectives are heard in order to bring about change.

Q: What could be done to encourage more women to get into the construction industry?

Jaspreet: Schools could definitely do more to encourage an interest in construction at a younger age. Companies within our sector can also do their bit by ensuring workplaces and sites are inclusive by providing appropriate facilities, PPE, etc for women. It would be nice to see more women in leadership roles, with a commitment and investment in training and development to help them get there.

Sarah: Encouraging more women into the industry begins with representation.  If school and sixth form age girls see women succeeding in construction roles they will consider the same.  Offering things like flexible working and mentoring schemes will only further the benefits and make the industry more attractive.  There are so many different paths into the industry now and these are further increasing with the need for new sustainable ways of working, marketing, social media presence etc.

Marta: Construction businesses are realising they have been missing out on a great pool of talent and are shifting towards being more diverse.  I am sure there is a lot to do still, particularly around the pay gap but we are heading in the right direction.

Caoimhe: I did an MSc in Sustainable Development at Queen’s University Belfast graduating in December 2021 and already I know of at least 4 people in my cohort of around 30 who have gone into roles within or aligned to the construction industry, and all of them are women. I think it would also be beneficial for construction companies to engage with female students from all different educational backgrounds – such as those studying for qualifications in sustainability, human resources, or software development – to show them that there is a wide range of jobs in the industry and that it can be a very rewarding industry to have a career in.

Ruxandra: There is a rich variety of actions that can be taken, such as: providing opportunities for women to receive training and education in construction-related fields, creating a supportive and inclusive work environment for women, encouraging women to take on leadership roles and promoting their successes within the industry, offering flexible work arrangements to accommodate work-life balance needs and providing mentorship and networking opportunities for women in the industry.

Caroline: By training contracts and apprenticeships more accessible to female candidates who want to take up positions. Companies should be actively looking for talented individuals from their local communities and colleges, and make sure their intake is balanced.

Jozefa: I think that barriers are being broken down and the face of construction is changing. There are so many exciting opportunities within construction with the need to adapt to a more sustainable future. From skilled onsite trades, developing new manufacturing technologies to designing sustainable buildings, further promotion of the broad range of skills required in the construction industry would assist in creating a draw for women.

 

As the world continues to evolve towards a kinder, better, inclusive, and more equitable future for everyone, evidence shows there is still progress to be made to empower women within construction and other male-dominated industries. Current figures from the Office for National Statistics reveal that over the last decade the percentage of women taking up skilled trades and holding senior management positions within construction companies has barely changed.

At ODGroup we seek to challenge this balance every day through providing flexible opportunities for talented individuals from all walks of life. If you would like to learn more, you can contact us via our Join the Team page, via LinkedIn or by emailing careers@od-group.com for further information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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