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Over 2.3 million people in the UK work in the construction industry. More than two million of these employees are men; with women comprising just 295,000 – around just 12% of the total workforce.

What’s worse, while the Office for National Statistics shows that the number of men working in the construction industry has increased by 324,000 since 1998, only 36,000 more women joined the industry. 

Construction News commissioned a survey to investigate why so few women are entering the construction industry and why even fewer rise to the top; the results were startling. 49% of the 500 firms who responded said they had never hired a female manager and a similar proportion of women working within the industry stated they had experienced discrimination at work.

Further research found that amongst the UK’s top contractors, women are paid nearly a third less than men, suggesting that not only do few women enter the construction industry, but even fewer manage to break the glass ceiling and enter management level roles. 

Yet research from management consultancy McKinsey & Company has found that companies which excelled at gender diversity were also more likely to outperform on profitability and value creation. In other words, having more women in senior management positions is linked to higher profits.

Knauf, one of Britain’s leading manufacturers of gypsum-based plasterboard products, has recognised the benefits having a more diverse workforce, especially at senior level, can bring to a company.

Emma Delaney, Knauf UK’s HR and Sustainability Director commented: “Manufacturing is an exciting and rewarding industry. A career in manufacturing offers the opportunity to find solutions, embrace the latest technologies and develop the products that end up in our homes, schools and hospitals.

“Not only is there job satisfaction, women can also expect a higher than average salary and plenty of opportunities to progress quickly. Yet in spite of this, we still struggle to attract women into our workforce.

“That’s why Knauf are working to set up a new professional network that will aim to raise the profile and celebrate women in manufacturing. From the shop-floor to top-floor we want to encourage the recruitment and retention of women in our industry – we’ve got lots of exciting things planned so watch this space!”

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