March 13, 2019

'Balance for better' and high performing workplaces

workplace strategy, office design, office fit-out
Gender balance in the workplace – and construction industry – is not a ground-breaking concept, but it is one that remains as important as ever.

As we look ahead to 2019 across EMEA, the landscape of our projects is diverse, complex and tailored for each client. When Unispace undertakes a new project, it is the talent of our team and the nimbleness of our methodology that ensures we deliver the best work environments possible.

Gender balance in the workplace – and the construction industry – is not a ground-breaking concept, but it is one that remains as important as ever. Research from Building.co.uk states that over the past two decades, the percentage of females working in the construction industry has hovered around 14% with those working on site remaining around 2%.

While there are many historical factors that influence the stagnation of female employment share in the construction industry, it often comes down to the individual company culture. 

In light of International Women's Day, and the #BalanceforBetter movement, we asked some of our team for their thoughts and experiences of the construction industry, and how Unispace works to improve that culture. Over the next couple of weeks, we will share a two-part insights series from across our EMEA team on what #BalanceforBetter looks like. 

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How do you respond to the research revealing so little movement of female representation in the construction industry?

Jose Kleemans - Principal, Delivery

The construction industry is quite particular. Traditionally it has always been a male dominated sector and differs culturally across countries. I believe construction is an industry that is often not attractive for many women, though when it comes to design we do often see a higher percentage of female expertise.

Recalling my education, the percentage of women was only about 10%. This has not changed much since. On the client side, women are usually well represented but the low percentage is clear on building sites. I am always empowered by seeing women in construction, and I feel it brings a positive influence to projects.

Natasha Bonugli - Regional Principal, Design 

There is a common misconception that women who have children are reluctant to return to work. I was excited to make the jump back to full-time employment after 6 months of maternity leave. I wanted to contribute to my household income and not stop my career which I had been working so hard for. As women in the construction industry, we work hard to have a voice: to stand out, to move up the ladder.

From the start of my architectural education I was surrounded by mostly males.. Over the past 16 years, this has slowly changed, and I am seeing more females thriving in our industry. At Unispace our EMEA design team is 50/50 male/female. This is not because I consciously try to hire more females, it's about who is the most talented and skilled candidate for the position. We have a very open culture and encourage people to take their career progression into their own hands. Flexibility and trust are key.

Janina Mantl - Principal, FF&E

There is no question that looking back in time the construction industry has always been a workplace dominated by men. I believe it is far better to look at the research from a viewpoint of where we have come from and what the future holds. With each year that passes, more and more women are gaining prominent roles, and this is something to celebrate.

 

How do you commit to attracting, coaching and retaining the widest talent pool possible?

Natasha Bonugli - Regional Principal, Design 

We are only as good as the sum of all our parts. Mentoring and coaching the talent we have is the most important task as a leader. Spending time to get to know each team member is essential. Understanding the nuances of their skills versus their gaps so that we agree a career path together.

Janina Mantl - Principal, FF&E 

I believe our global reach and proven track record of delivering successful projects is a strong driver behind our ability to attract and retain the best talent within the industry.

Angela Mullarkey - Senior Associate, Strategy

Unispace is succeeding in amplifying the voice of women. Unispace values diversity, and talented women and men at all levels are given the opportunities to seize based on their expertise, interests and skills.

Jose Kleemans - Principal, Delivery

We value our talent and look for that best fit for the role, independent from gender. On the client side, in project management and design, women seem to be well represented. We do have a different approach than men. A mix of different people definitely contributes to team spirit and to the quality of an outcome.

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At Unispace, we are committed to attracting a diverse workforce that is inclusive and allows team members to perform at their full potential. We co-create projects with our clients, and this dynamic cross-section of team insight supports the development of exceptional workplaces.

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[1] Where are the women in the construction workforce? Building.co.uk