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"The key to increased opportunity is building a pipeline network of women and avid supporters." - Professional Women in Construction

Posted by James Hawley, Hays | Veredus EVP, on Thursday, Mar 10, 2016

PWC Professional Women in Construction logoProfessional Women in Construction is a 501(c)3 committed to advancing professional, entrepreneurial and managerial opportunities for women in construction and related industries. The three main focuses are hosting networking events, launching a scholarship/mentorship program, and providing support and resources for women starting their own businesses.

Globally, 45% of women do not think they have the same career opportunities as men. What do you think about this?

It is an international concern because of the vast population that is being left out, which is a huge source of economic growth. The significance varies based on country, but as an example of the potential, the McKinsey, in 2012, published a report called Unlocking the full potential of women at work, “About 76% of all American women aged 25-54 are in the workforce (i.e., currently employed or seeking work). That compares with about 87% in Sweden… Getting all U.S. states up to an 84% participation rate would add 5.1 million women to the workforce. This is equivalent to adding 3-4% to the size of the US economy.”

The key to increased opportunity is building a pipeline network of women and avid supporters.

What is PWC doing to reduce the gender opportunity gap?

PWC works to connect, educate and inspire women and businesses through events, resources and community. We have been expanding our scholarship and mentorship programs to support women in the AEC industry, putting together resources for WMBEs to help build capacity and presenting informative and thought-provoking programs on industry topics.

Do you have any advice for female construction professionals who are in, or are looking to work in, a management or leadership role?

There are two keys to really advance your career, one is focused internally and the other externally.

Internally, it is important to take opportunities for leadership on projects and within your current team.  Look for volunteer opportunities that allow you to hone your leadership skills.  Don't be fearful of stepping out to apply for positions that might appear to you to be "above" your current level of experience.  Lay a good foundation, practice your skills and take the risks!

Externally, networking is essential. Joining organizations outside of the office is an excellent way to bring about opportunity and build a professional and well-rounded CV. Participating in panel discussions and continuing education sessions as well as finding mentors in the industry are further examples of effective strategies.

Do you have any advice for business leaders trying to improve gender equality in their organizations?

Look to companies like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, all of whom have come out with strategies that have been largely publicized. Focus on building a pipeline of women leaders — are there female leaders within each level of management? This will encourage a natural progression.

Strategies for recruitment and retention include increased paid leave, more flexible hours, mentorship and professional development opportunities. A report released in February 2016 by Peterson Institute for International Economics called Is Gender Diversity Profitable? Evidence from a Global Survey concludes, “there is a positive correlation between the proportion of women in corporate leadership and firm profitability.” Making sure the HR department understands the significance of this and how stronger female representation isn’t just a good PR piece, but also is a key business strategy.

See more from Hays' International Women's Day coverage, including the Global Diversity report.

Talk to James Hawley, Hays EVP, about the US Construction market.

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