Diversity poll shows more women join built environment sector

17th January 2024

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The percentage of women working in the built environment sector rose significantly last year although people from ethnic minorities find it up to six times harder to be recruited, according to a major survey.

The Sustainability Tool’s poll of 526,415 employees across 537 supply chains of major companies and membership organisations reveals the percentage of women in the built environment rose from 23% in 2022 to 29.1% in 2023, the largest rise since the survey began in 2016.

Facilities management, rail, and central government are “leading the way” with percentages of women employees above their industry benchmarks, the survey shows. However female employees were on average paid 18.8% less than men against a general UK gender pay gap of 9.4%.

Despite making up 52.5% of applicants for jobs in the built environment industry applicants, the representation of ethnic minority groups in the workforce fell by 0.1% to 13.6%, below the Office of National Statistics (ONS) benchmark of 18.5% of the population. Depending on background, ethnic minority groups found it between 1.2 to 6.4 times harder to secure a job than their white counterparts.

The Sustainability Tool said further work is needed “to tackle biases that occur at the shortlisting and hiring stages for ethnic minority groups”.

The survey also reveals that 49.5% of ethnic minority employees leave the sector before the age of 34, “indicating that the talent that is in the industry may be being lost”.

The percentage of people who stated they have a disability has increased by 0.4% to 2.8% against the ONS population average of 17.8%. The poll also notes persistent information gaps around disability, with 35.2% of respondents’ data not being collected, while the “prefer not to say” option rose from 3.2% to 6.5% last year.

Employees identifying as being part of the LGBTQIA+ community also increased from 1.7 to 2.04%, but this is below the ONS average of 3.14%.

The survey aims to encourage organisations to report their data to form industry benchmarks and create an inclusive environment representing the UK’s population. This year’s poll will open in March.


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