The construction industry is a notoriously male-dominated sector. The latest figures show that in 2019, only 13% of construction roles were filled by women.
The lack of female representation is equally low in the glazing industry – and the women we do have in fenestration tend to occupy office-based admin roles, with very few in senior management and even fewer working as window installers and fabricators.
Changing industry perceptions
But one company that’s bucking this trend is trade fabricator Dekko Window Systems. The company employs a large female workforce, with two female members of its six-strong senior management team, and has a strong culture of providing equal opportunities.
“When we started Dekko back in 2008, we knew from the start we wanted to make it a very different kind of fabricator,” comments Sales Director Kurt Greatrex.
“Our aim was excellence – we wanted to help installers capitalise on huge demand for high-end home improvements, with expertly-fabricated doors and windows, backed by exceptional service. And if you’re striving to be the best, you need to make use of all the talent there is out there – not just half of it.”
Kurt has high expectations of his workforce, but is also clearly proud of what they’ve achieved. “Female workers have made a big impact on every aspect of our business at Dekko. Female fabricators have delivered the outstanding product quality that’s made our name.
“Female administration staff have shaped our culture of customer service excellence – and female managers have shaped the strategy that, in little more than a decade, has seen us become one of the most successful fenestration businesses in Britain.
“A diverse workforce allows the best talent to rise to the top, regardless of gender – and that’s the way it should be.”
Diversifying the workforce to meet the skills shortage
The UK construction industry is a huge and important part of the national economy. It generates over £110 billion every year, accounting for 7% of GDP. Around 3 million people work in construction, equating to 10% of all UK employment.
Across the construction industry, however, there is a huge skills shortage. Massive technological advancements are shaping the sector, including new ways of designing, building and becoming more environmentally aware. At a time where innovation in construction is at a high, the industry is struggling to retain skilled staff who are willing to embrace new developments in building and engineering.
Again, Kurt sees women in construction as the perfect solution to the industry’s current problematic situation: “With fewer people coming into the industry with the necessary skills to keep it growing, one of the biggest challenges we face to keep the industry driving forward is a skills shortage, so attracting new talent is vital and a female workforce can help close that gap.”
A positive future for the glazing industry
Dekko are certainly setting a great example, and as a more traditional set of senior industry leaders start to retire, the newer generation are embracing this forward-thinking attitude. Although figures from March 2019 show that men in construction were paid 20% more than women for doing the same job, this figure is significantly lower than the previous year’s 36% discrepancy.
This gender pay gap is predicted to continue falling in the coming years, so now could be the perfect time for women to consider a career in construction. Although the situation is far from perfect, for women looking to work in construction, the rewards are excellent. On average, female construction workers earn a 30% higher annual salary than those in other historically female-dominated industries such as textile manufacturing.
With gender quality and diversity now an integral part of employment regulations, the 2020s look set to be the decade when construction (including glazing) fully embrace an equal male-female workforce.