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Contractors need gender targets, says CECA boss

Contractors must set themselves targets to increase the number women in their workforce if the industry is help overcome its gender pay disparity, the boss of the Civils Engineering Contractors Association has said.

CECA chief executive Alasdair Reisner told Construction News that contractors had to now starting setting targets for boosting female representation to ensure a focused approach to remedying gender disparity.

Mr Reisner said: “I am in favour of there being targets and individual firms need to set out what these targets should be.

“You have to be shooting at something – it’s like with anything where you are trying to create change, you have to have a strategy and those strategies have to have outcomes.”

Earlier this year Wilmott Dixon chief executive Rick Willmott set his company the target of 50:50 gender split by 2030.

Mr Reisner agreed with this approach: “If we are just saying we need to resolve this problem, without targets how will we know if we’ve been successful?”

The CECA boss was speaking after CN analysis this week revealed women working at the UK’s top 10 contractors were paid 30 per cent less than men.

He said the results would be a “wake-up call” for the industry, and it now needed to work together quickly to overcome the problem.

“We must move rapidly to put in place things that will help to address these issues, whether that is about flexible working, doing more to get women into the industry – these are things companies will now have to focus on now,” he said.

Mr Reisner said the gender pay gap reports would lead to more clients putting pressure on its suppliers to prove that they were working to address the gender pay gap.

“There will now be incredible pressure from our customers,” he said.

“Customers won’t want to work with firms with a poor gender pay balance either; it is about making sure our efforts are well managed so they achieve the outcome rather than pay lip service.”

Inspire Me

Construction News continues to campaign for greater gender diversity in industry leadership roles.

CN launched the Inspire Me campaign to encourage women to seek leadership roles in construction. The next Inspire Me workshop takes place in Manchester on 13 June.

Visit for further details.

He used the example of HS2 as a client that was focusing more on performance in areas such as gender representation when procuring work.

Analysis by CN today revealed that the average median hourly pay for the UK’s top 100 contractors was 30.3 per cent.

Mr Reisner said it was essential the industry used the data to identify better-performing firms and use them as examples of best practice that could be followed by the industry.

“The first thing the industry needs to do is look at where is the good practice; if there are people doing good things within the industry within the structural challenges, why don’t we look at people doing better and try to learn from them.”

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