As part of Pinkspiration, the majority of my work is in the Construction Industry which I really enjoy. As there are only 1% of women in manual trades, it can sometimes be challenging. Having worked in the industry for many years, I really enjoy the diversity and people I meet on site working on different construction projects. At the moment we are working on a new programme called Design Factor (like DIY SOS/60 minute makeover) helping to transform community spaces in Wales, a programme which we hope to roll out across the UK. Design Factor, has attracted attention from Peter Jones, Dragons' Den Star and Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Media, and it is a very exciting time for us. Personally, I am passionate about progressing women into the industry and I sit on the board with the Women’s Engineering Society, promoting women into construction, business, engineering, science and technology.
As part of our branding we have a pink van and pink uniform which really stands out. I remember a while ago, thinking about how I could offer women the opportunity to undertake construction training. One of the things I did was to buy a pink hard hat and hi vis from America. When I mentioned it to a builders' merchants they said “ listen love, if you want to work in the construction industry you should wear yellow like the rest of us”. But I insisted on pink as this was really eye catching and helped us stand out. Women who previously not had got involved in construction and engineering, started learning new skills, so that they could use them around their own home, plastering, tiling, painting, skirting/coving and general home maintenance. Many of them then progressed onto a career in the construction industry doing everything from Heating Engineering, Painting to starting up their own businesses. It was such a popular concept that for about six months, the media would follow us around everywhere to take photos and we hit the National press around 30 times. Ever since, I have become known in as the Pink Lady.
Today, even though women make up nearly 50% of the workforce – which clearly is not the case at top senior positions, there is still a huge gender gap. There are only 7% of women at top 100 FTSE companies and 2% in Wales. When it comes to salaries, men can earn more than £100,000 majority of the time women would not attract any where near salary and more can be done to address this issue and balance equality. There are some cases of successful business women earning top salaries, but again this is the minority. Over the past few years I have spoken to many women who are experienced and confident to put themselves forward for promotions in senior positions, but have been unsuccessful in breaking the glass ceiling.
There are many professional women out there who are talented and experienced when it comes to business who are not getting appointed to top senior positions and most have to move to another business to get this career development. The equality bill has been published and recent research from the former trade minister, Lord Davies of Abersoch, identified a quota – by 2013 all companies should have at least 25% of women in the boardroom. In my opinion this seems to be one of the only ways that we will improve our business mapping and I am growing to agree that a quota is the way forward.
If you are passionate about becoming a more diverse work place and developing programmes to attract women, this is their expertise and they would like to hear from you, about delivering training plans to progress women in business, engineering, science, technology or construction. Please email [email protected] for any more information.