• Gender pay gap in the construction industry has fallen from 16% to 12% in the past decade – a 4% decrease
  • National fall in gender pay gap over same period is 4%, from 21% to 17%
  • Gender pay gap across all industries dominated by small businesses has fallen from 22% to 13% in past ten years

The gender pay gap in the construction sector has fallen by 4% in the last decade, according to a report published by Informi, the website offering free practical advice and support for small businesses.

The report shows that women who earned 84p for every £1 a man earned in construction back in 2008 now earn 88p, meaning that the remaining gender pay gap in the industry stands at 12%.

Since 2008, female hourly pay in construction has increased by 22%, while male hourly pay over the same period has increased by 17% – meaning that the overall gender pay gap has narrowed by 23%.

Across all small business-dominated industries, which includes construction, the gender pay gap is falling at twice the rate as that of all companies across the UK.

The research found that while the national gender pay gap was at 21% ten years ago (and at 22% in SME-dominated industries), current wage inequalities in those sectors with a greater number of SME employees has fallen to 13%, compared to a national average of 17%.

With a 9% overall fall in the gender pay gap across these SME-dominated industries over the last ten years, the sectors are set to eradicate the remaining 13% average wage inequalities by 2034, should it continue to fall at current rates.

Darren Nicholls, product manager for Informi, said “Small businesses are the lifeblood of the UK economy, and this report demonstrates that they are blazing a pathway towards wage equality and helping to eradicate the gender pay gap.

“Small businesses are not shackled by tradition, legacy or bureaucracy in the same manner as many large companies can be. That said, clearly a double digit gap is still far too high. There’s a great deal more to be done, with some industries lagging behind others in implementing the necessary changes to ensure that females get just as many opportunities to thrive in their profession of choice.

“The fact that mandatory reporting has been brought in by the Government for larger companies should act as an encouragement for small businesses to consider female progression within their own firms, auditing their own internal data and acting upon their results.”

Chloe Chambraud, gender equality director for Business in the Community, added “Closing the gender pay gap is not just about equal pay, but about a much bigger organisational culture shift.

Employers should understand any factors driving their pay gap, and address the root causes of inequality. This means reducing bias and increasing transparency in the recruitment, appraisal and promotion processes, normalise agile working, and offer financially viable parental leave packages for all.”

Sophia Morrell, chair of Labour in the City, concluded “It is really encouraging to see SMEs leading the charge in the UK on closing the gender pay gap. Legislation can be helpful in pushing us towards equality, but the most forward-thinking companies have already been embedding these principles into their workplaces rather than waiting for regulation to force their hand.”

The full report, ‘Closing the Gender Pay Gap: Are small businesses bucking the national trend?’ is available from the Informi website.

Nearly half of construction workers think the sector’s pay gap between men and women will be lower than the national average within a year.

  • 46% of construction workers think the gender pay gap will be less than 15% by April 2018.
  • More needs to be done to achieve equality and tackle sexism in the sector; 35% of workers believe men are better suited for the skill set needed in construction.
  • Nearly a third (30%) of women cite fears of sexism as holding them back from pursuing senior roles in construction.
  • Workers want organisations to do more, with nearly 39% believing companies are not doing enough to attract females into the sector.

OnePoll survey findings

A OnePoll survey commissioned by the RICS found that despite an optimistic outlook about the gender pay gap figures across the construction sector, with nearly half (46%) of construction workers predicting the gap will be less than 15% by April 2018, businesses need to do more to tackle gender inequality and sexism in the industry.

The future for women in the construction industry

With the national average pay gap recorded at 18.1% in 2016, today’s findings suggest the construction sector could lead the way in closing the gap, if the employees’ predictions are correct. Indeed, more than one in ten respondents (12%) think that there will be no gender pay gap at all by April 2018, which marks the end of the UK Government’s mandatory gender pay reporting period. However, this positive sentiment is markedly absent in the nation’s capital, with Londoners in the construction sector predicting an average pay gap of 21%.

A man’s world?

Despite a positive outlook towards the pay gap, today’s findings reveal the construction sector has significant steps to take if it is to achieve parity. Nearly a third (30%) of women surveyed think sexism holds them back from pursuing senior roles in construction, while 38% of men believe their skills are better suited to the sector than women.

Nearly half (42%) of those surveyed believe companies need to invest more in training their existing female employees. Equally, those in the sector want to see businesses investing in the future pipeline of talent to build a diverse workforce, with 40% recognising that companies need to invest more in encouraging young girls to pursue a career in construction, so that more women enter the profession.

A third of UK home owners would rather hire a female builder, as opposed to a male builder, according to new research by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

Key results from the FMB’s research into opinions on female builders and tradespeople include:

  • Almost one third (30%) of home owners would feel more positive about hiring a female builder or tradesperson to complete a task in their home, as opposed to a male builder or tradesperson
  • Women feel particularly positive about hiring female builders with 35% saying they would feel more positive about hiring a female builder or tradesperson to complete a task in their home

Of those who felt more positive about hiring a female builder, the reasons were as follows:

  • 51% think female tradespeople might be more respectful of their home
  • 46% would like to support more women working in non-traditional job roles
  • 42% might feel more at ease with a female tradesperson
  • 37% think female tradespeople might be more trustworthy
  • 35% think female tradespeople might be friendlier
  • 30% think women often have better attention to detail than men
  • 20% prefer the company of women
  • 18% relate better to other women
  • 16% would be a novelty and a welcome change to hire a female builder

Despite feeling more positive about hiring a female tradesperson, 30% fewer people would encourage their daughter to pursue a career in construction than their sons.

Nearly two-thirds of the general public are ‘gender blind’ when choosing their builder or tradesperson and wouldn’t care whether they were a man or a woman.

Commenting on the research, Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said “There’s a clear appetite among consumers for more women to enter the building industry with one third of home owners saying they would rather hire a female builder. There are numerous reasons for this and chief among them is that these home owners feel that female tradespeople might be more respectful of their home. Consumers are also keen to support more women working in non-traditional job roles which is a breath of fresh air. However, there’s a serious gap in the market here as currently only two percent of tradespeople are women.”

“The construction industry is in the midst of a skills shortage and until we appeal to women – who obviously make up fifty per cent of the population – we’re unlikely to dig ourselves out of this skills hole. Despite feeling more positive about hiring a female tradesperson, 30% fewer people would encourage their daughter to pursue a career in construction than their sons. In 2018, this attitude is outdated and denies thousands of women a potentially rewarding career. Today is International Women’s Day and we’re calling on all parents, teachers and careers advisers to talk to young women about a career in construction. The construction sector can appeal to anyone who takes pleasure in the built environment and wants to avoid being trapped behind a desk all day. This can and should apply to both men and women equally.”

Debi Sporn, from Sporn Construction Ltd, who has worked in construction for more than 16 years, said “The public perception of the construction industry is changing but not quickly enough. As a woman working in construction, I’m able to bring a different perspective to our firm and how it operates. Not only that, clients to seem respond well to the fact that our company employs both men and women. Construction is an exciting sector to work in and I would absolutely recommend pursuing a career in our industry.”

Salaries for property professionals remained robust in 2017, according to the latest survey by RICS & Macdonald & Company, but the gender pay gap has increased from last year.

  • Male property professionals earn, on average, £11,000 more than female counterparts (£7,000 in 2016)
  • Sector salary pay rises up 7.2% overall, above UK wage inflation
  • Average salaries down, but due to changing demographics of the survey

An evident gap

Male property professionals earn, on average, £11,113 more than their female colleagues (£54,931 versus £43,818). The gap is evident across the majority of age groups and is greatest for those aged 46–55, where the difference in average salary is 25.7%.

Encouragingly, the gender pay gap is now less evident in those starting out in property with females earning slightly more than males, a turnaround from last year where the pay gap was most evident in 18–22 year olds.

The survey indicates the attraction of property as a career choice. Of those who received a pay rise in 2017 in the industry, the average increase was 7.7% (up from 7.1% in 2016); this is far above UK-wage inflation, which sits at 2.7%. Considering the sample as a whole, the industry experienced an increase of +7.2% (6.5% in 2016), with 32% also believing that their pay and benefits will be positively affected by market conditions over the next 12 months.

The benefits of being qualified

Once again, the survey also shows the benefits of being professionally qualified. RICS professionals earn 40.6% more than those who are “not professionally qualified” — this has increased by 29.5% since 2016. Those with an FRICS designation earn 83.3% more than those who are not professionally qualified.

The survey recorded the average salary in 2017 as £52,362. While this is a 4.5% decrease compared to 2016, this may be largely explained by changes in the demographics of the survey this time around. Respondents with 10 years’ experience or fewer rose by 9% (from 31% to 40%), while those with 16 years’ experience or more fell 10% (from 56% to 46%).

Respondents working in Greater London continue to earn the highest average salary (£61,141) and command a premium of 15.5% over the South East, and 41.0% over Northern Ireland/Republic of Ireland. The majority of regions have seen a decrease, but East Anglia (+3.4%), South West/Wales (+2.6%) and Northern Ireland/Republic of Ireland (+1.4%) buck this trend with growth in average wages.

More positively, over half of respondents (53%) believe their organisation will increase headcount in 2017. 47% of respondents expect their organisation to modestly increase headcount, while 6% expect a significant increase in headcount in 2017.

The number of females in professional construction roles is less than many analysts predicted, according to a survey carried out by specialist construction recruitment firm, One Way.

In a survey of professionals from across the industry, the firm found that 65% of respondents work in a company where less than 5% of the workforce is made up of women in an actual construction role.

When asked about the challenges for women in construction, over half (58%) stated that businesses themselves are to blame due to a range of issues such as stereotyping in the recruitment process and a lack of commitment from employers. Just over a third (35%) felt that it simply isn’t a popular career choice for women.

The survey – carried out as part of the firm’s #GirlsAllowed campaign which aims to bring together those in construction and education outlets to encourage more girls into the sector – also revealed that the majority (83%) believe that a lack of construction career education in schools is creating a concerning gap in female talent.

Reassuringly, over 80% of those surveyed agreed that they would personally get involved in an initiative to help address the lack of women in construction.

Paul Payne, Managing Director of One Way, commented on the findings “What is clear from these results is that employers need to do more to both attract more women into the industry and embrace them once on board. The results of the survey clearly demonstrate that the sector has a bad reputation when it comes to hiring females and given the severity of existing skills shortages, this simply cannot continue. While we were expecting to find low levels of employment, some of the figures were certainly below our initial perceptions, which makes the need for greater collaboration through initiatives such as the #GirlsAllowed campaign more vital now than they have ever been.

“While it’s great to see so many respondents commit to taking more action, there were some concerning views that came to light that I feel need to be altered immediately. Aside from some of the gender stereotyping comments, other remarks suggested that some in the industry itself don’t think construction is a sector that women should be in. This is quite simply untrue and is an attitude myself and the team at One Way certainly want to turn around.”

The Minister for Women and Equalities, Justine Greening has welcomed figures showing the gender pay gap for the construction industry is now the lowest on record.

The Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, published by the Office for National Statistics, provides the most accurate data on the median average difference between men and women’s earnings. These statistics show that the construction sector has a gender pay gap of 16.3% – that’s 1.8% below the national average.

From next April the government will be taking action to tackle the gender pay gap by requiring all employers with more than 250 employees to publish their gender pay and gender bonus gaps. This will help shine a light on the barriers preventing women from reaching the top.

The benefits of helping women to unlock their talents are huge – tackling the UK gender gap could add £150bn to our annual GDP in 2025. That’s an opportunity that neither government nor businesses can afford to ignore.

Ms Greening commented: “It is fantastic to see we now have the lowest gender pay gap on record. No woman should be held back just because of her gender.

“The changes we’ve made so that men and women can share their parental leave, the support we’re giving to get more women into the top jobs at our biggest companies and our drive to get more girls taking STEM subjects at school are all helping to reduce this gap.

“We’ve achieved amazing things but there’s more to do – that’s why we are pushing ahead with plans to require businesses to publish their gender pay and gender bonus gap for the first time ever from April next year.”

To help drive further progress and help eliminate the gender pay gap in a generation, the government is:

  • Introducing requirements for all employers with more than 250 members of staff to publish their gender pay and gender bonus pay gaps for the first time ever from April next year
  • Working with business to have 33% of women on boards by 2020 and eliminate all-male boards in the FTSE 350
  • Doubling the amount of free childcare available to working parents of three and four year olds, helping to remove the barriers that can prevent women from returning to the workplace.

This builds on the changes the government has already introduced to support women in the workplace, including:

  • Extending the right to request flexible working to all employees
  • Introducing a new system of flexible parental leave
  • Supporting women’s enterprise by helping female entrepreneurs start up and grow their own business
  • Increasing the National Living Wage, of which two-thirds of recipients are women.

41% of young women aged 13–22 believe their gender will hold them back in the workplace; however, they claim that the rise of female leaders, such as Theresa May and Hilary Clinton, could help to change sexist attitudes and encourage workplace diversity, according to a new YouGov survey commissioned by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

While almost half of young women believed that their gender would count against them in the workplace, young men seem to think differently, with 20% saying that they expect to earn more in their careers than their female counterparts.

But there may be hope on the horizon in the form of Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon. 43% of young women believe that having a female Prime Minister or President will encourage gender diversity at work. Of those surveyed, 73% believe that the attitudes and behaviour of CEOs and senior leaders are important in encouraging equal numbers of men and women.

The property and construction industries were perceived by respondents to be among the least diverse with 29% of girls saying that the sector was purely for men. Among the industries perceived as most diverse are retail and health, with law and construction cited as the least.

Amanda Clack FRICS, RICS President said “Speaking as a woman in construction, I can say with confidence that this is not just a job for boys; however, the need for diversity at the very top is clear. When I first entered the profession there were no strong female role models. Yet, according to our survey, a quarter of young women believe they will do better under the leadership of a female CEO and they want to see visible female role models.

“Strong female roles models will help to attract greater diversity into the industry because the more we celebrate individual success, the more surmountable barriers become. With a female Prime Minister in the UK and a woman in the running for the US Presidency, we are seeing great female role models at the very highest levels.”