Stewart Long is a technical graduate at Barratt Developments who studied for a Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering at Cardiff University and graduated in 2015. Upon joining Barratt, as part of a project for the Prince’s Trust Million Makers scheme, he worked alongside three female colleagues to set up Built by Both as a way to promote an inclusive culture across the built environment sector. Alongside his female co-founders, he’s leading the way by encouraging other male colleagues to join the campaign by demonstrating that gender balance benefits women and also men too.
“…Now more than ever, organisations are seeking alternative talent pools and recruitment drives to maintain business capacity, whilst avoiding skyrocketing fees. We are increasingly being told that attracting more women into the sector is the answer to this impending skills and labour shortage. Although this is certainly not the reason we should be attracting women into the built environment, it is a reason that employers are likely to readily listen to…”
Getting involved with Built by Both
I studied Civil Engineering in Cardiff University, and have experience in both engineering consultancy and contracting. After completing my Master’s I decided to move into residential development and join Barratt London as a technical graduate. Alongside your day-to-day roles, Barratt enrol their graduates onto The Prince’s Trust Million Makers corporate fundraising competition. As well as fundraising events for the charity we wanted to create a tangible legacy, and so Built by Both was born.
Having started out as a team of four enthusiastic graduates, Built by Both serves to promote an inclusive culture across the built environment sector, enabling gender parity and workforce diversity. We host Student Experience Days for female undergraduates interested in finding out more about the opportunities and entry routes available within the sector. We also organise INSPIRE//NETWORK evenings open to everyone, with accomplished guest speakers from all fields of the built environment.
Engaging men too because the push for gender parity is everyone’s fight
One founding principle of Built by Both is that the push for gender parity is everyone’s fight. We work closely with numerous women’s networks and recognise that they play a crucial role in promoting gender parity and supporting women in the built environment.
Our role is to support these efforts whilst also amassing and demonstrating support for gender parity from male counterparts. The purpose of this is to highlight the industrywide ambition for gender parity, and to accelerate the process of achieving this by signifying a united opposition against everyday sexism in the workplace. It is appalling that some women continue to be victimised and face discrimination simply for pursuing their chosen career.
The amount of support and training on offer to women is only part of the issue: We must also tackle the cause of the problem, which is the men making discriminatory remarks. Therefore, we need to focus on expelling unconscious bias from the workplace, and drive out the sexist ‘banter’ and ‘lad culture’ that desensitises men to the impact that everyday sexism has on women.
Why gender balance is better for men as well as women
Gender balance is beneficial for everyone; it means equal opportunities for women to pursue their personal aspirations, and men can benefit from the new ideas and ways of working that women bring with them. Gender balance will diversify the skills portfolio of teams; from project teams all the way up to board level management.
Additionally, by striving for mixed teams, employers ensure that they have full access to the talent pool so that all employees – female and male – will benefit from working amongst the most competent colleagues.
Our activities in 2016
Built by Both has run three major dates throughout the year and are busy planning events for 2017, including three NETWORK//INSPIRE evenings and two Student Experience Days.
Our NETWORK//INSPIRE launch was attended by over 70 people, and this attendance has grown event-on-event. The feedback from our attendees has been very supportive and signifies widespread appetite for progressive representation across the sector. Over our two Student Experience Days we have welcomed eight university students to Barratt London’s Aldgate office for a day of skills and careers workshops, site visits and networking.
We have received really positive feedback from their universities, including interest in enrolling more students to our future events. But more crucially we are heartened to have received such warm feedback from the students themselves, who found the events informative and useful in providing direction as they consider their career choices going forward.
Exciting connections have been established with partner campaign groups, including Construction Youth Trust’s #NotJustForBoys campaign, CITB’s Go Construct, and NAWIC’s Image of Women in Construction. Built by Both met with the former Minister for Housing and Planning – Brandon Lewis – at the House of Commons and also partnered with Construction Youth Trust, for their panel debate at the Construction Industry Summit in September. Alongside our dedicated website, we keep our supporters up to date on news and events via Twitter, where we have over 400 followers.
Instilling diversity and inclusion throughout the whole supply chain
Large organisations need to lead by example by employing a diverse workforce, and engaging with their employees to build an inclusive environment. Increasing the presence of women in the workplace sends a strong message to the supply chain that women are welcome and valued, and is the first step of overcoming unconscious bias.
Larger organisations can influence their supply chain by demonstrating that – besides it being the right thing to do (which I am sure we all agree should be enough in itself in an ideal world) – there is also a strong business case for diversity. Not only does diverse employment mean access to a larger talent pool of potential employees; it also improves retention by reassuring minorities that they are valued employees.
Now is the time to demand equal prospects and recognition for women
The uncertainty around Brexit is keeping the built environment sector on its toes. Besides fluctuating property values, many organisations and individuals have expressed concern over the impact that Brexit may have on the supply of skilled and unskilled professionals. The sector has become reliant on oversea workers in recent years: particularly for onsite labour and tradespeople.
Now more than ever, organisations are seeking alternative talent pools and recruitment drives to maintain business capacity, whilst avoiding skyrocketing fees. We are increasingly being told that attracting more women into the sector is the answer to this impending skills and labour shortage. Although this is certainly not the reason we should be attracting women into the built environment, it is a reason that employers are likely to readily listen to.
Therefore, we must use this to our advantage to drive balanced gender representation, whilst also taking the opportunity to demand equal prospects and recognition for women. With employers across the sector eager to diversify their employment options, now is the time to seize these rights for women.
What 2017 has in store for Built by Both
The Built by Both team are busily preparing behind the scenes for our next event in Spring 2017. We have big plans, new partners, and cannot wait to let everyone know what 2017 holds for Built by Both! Stay up to date with our announcements @BuiltbyBoth or via our website at www.barrattgoldenbricks.com/built-by-both/.
As for me, I’m enjoying getting stuck into my project at Barratt and transitioning from the graduate course into my new role! The experience that I am gaining by working on Built by Both will stay with me throughout my career, and it continues to be something that I am very proud to be a part of.