International Women’s Day belongs to everyone, everywhere

by BIM Academy | March 8, 2024 | 4 min read

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At BIM Academy, we embrace the opportunity of working with brilliant people, both colleagues and clients, who can help us thrive through the challenging moments and share in the celebration of our wins. We firmly believe that everyone you meet can become a source of inspiration and motivation.

Which is why, to celebrate International Women’s Day 2024 (IWD), we are taking time to reflect on the critical role women play within the construction industry, and the influence these incredible women can have on cultural change and how they inspire us every single day.

This year’s IWD theme looks at inspiring inclusion, something which resonates throughout the industry, something which encourages us to break down barriers and foster an improved culture, where diversity is not only acknowledged, but celebrated.

Today, Friday 8 March, some of the BIM Academy team, together with our sister company, Ryder Architecture, attended an International Women’s Day Lunch with Pro-Manchester, the largest business development organisation in the North West of England, which strives to increase professional excellence through knowledge sharing, creating partnerships, and staying ahead of the ever changing business environment.

On attending the event, some of the team commented that taking part in events such as this helps to strengthen relationships, as well as building upon personal confidence – by gaining each other’s trust, we know that we are in a safe space, amongst trusted individuals.

Others commented on how they feel about empowering women who work in the built environment sector, with responses such as we need to encourage better collaboration, where women can share workplace challenges and seek support. It is important to feel a sense of belonging, that we can all achieve greatness, and there are no barriers to success.

Greatness may mean different things to difference people, we all have individual goals, but what is important is that we recognise and embrace these differences and support everyone with what they aim to achieve.

Diversity in the construction industry

The largest demographic profile for workers in construction is white, middle aged, non disabled and male – and although this is not exclusive to construction, it still poses a cultural threat that needs to be addressed.

Having a more diverse workforce, one which represents a wide range of ages, races, backgrounds, spoken languages, sexual orientations, abilities (physical and mental) and gender identities, can enhance the way businesses function by boosting creative thinking and increasing innovation. It affords more opportunities for professional growth and better decision making.

Addressing workforce biases can helps break down barriers and provide greater equality at every level of the organisation. At BIM Academy, we are committed to attracting and retaining the best talent from all backgrounds and strive to fully reflect the diverse world in which we live and work. In 2022/2023, our team grew by almost 50%, partly through the introduction of new services in sustainability and building safety. A large percentage of this expanded team is from a diverse range of backgrounds and nationalities. BIM Academy currently has over double the UK construction industry national average for employment of people from ethnic minority backgrounds and three times that for the number of women. We believe in employing and rewarding people on their merit, skills and experience, and this is how we grow our team.

Promoting inclusive working environments

Bringing more women into the industry would inevitably bring new skill sets and perspectives into the sector and could widen the pool of skilled professionals considerably.

The travel and long working hours involved in many construction roles mean that many workers struggle with work/life balance, and this could be discouraging women from entering the industry. Both women and men with parental responsibilities need an element of flexibility within their roles which is currently hard to find within the construction sector. This has improved post pandemic, but balancing home and work commitments is still a challenge.

There is a clear industry wide case for doing more to address gender imbalance and, encouragingly, awareness of this is growing sector wide. Initiatives such as International Women’s Day gives us a platform to raise awareness of the current imbalances, but also give us the opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women at all levels of the industry.

What matters to us is treating everyone with fairness and respect. We work hard as a team; we respect one another equally and we support each other. We support an industry where there are no barriers and people are singularly rewarded for their achievements.

We applaud initiatives such as IWD, and in their own words: “We celebrate women’s achievement. Raise awareness about discrimination and take action to drive gender parity. IWD belongs to everyone, everywhere.”