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Women working for construction firms take home lower average earnings than men – that’s a fact, but one that shouldn’t be tolerated.

April 17, 2018

A recent article in “Building” magazine has highlighted the gender pay gap in our industry, citing an official report confirming that most construction companies pay women on average less than men.

According to the government’s gender pay gap data, men get promoted to senior, higher-paying construction roles, whereas women are grouped into admin and support roles that are lower paid.

It’s the same in many sectors but construction is particularly bad because women are so woefully underrepresented, at just under 14% of the workforce.

Peter Willis of Premier 1st for Property Care, commented,

“At Premier, we strive not to discriminate between any employees filling similar roles. Admittedly, we employ almost no women but that is not a conscious decision, simply a factor of our business.

As a small but fast-growing business, we are very aware of our responsibilities to conduct all our activities in a fair and balanced manner.”

By Building’s calculations, the average median pay gap of the top 10 UK contractors is 25%. The data also shows pay gaps in construction go as high as 48% – to put this in context, the Office for National Statistics reckoned in 2017 that the overall pay gap in the UK was 18.4%.

Many critics have slammed the data on average hourly pay as meaningless because it fails to take into account factors such as part-time working, amount of experience, and the type of work people are doing. Even supporters of the legislation, such as Theresa Mohammed, chair of the National Association of Women in Construction, admit the data “does not go below the surface” to tackle the fundamental reasons why women earn less than men.

And yet, this data-gathering exercise – the most comprehensive of its kind – cannot simply be batted away. It is relevant and could be the start of a cultural shift where people – women in particular – feel empowered to start asking questions about salary offers and pay rises.

However imperfect the data may be, the principle of transparency and accountability around women’s pay has been established. Companies will want to get their excuses in, to explain away their disappointing statistics to female staff. They shouldn’t. No one intends to have a pay gap in their organisation, it’s something that develops over time when nobody is looking. But now we are, so let’s close the gap.

You can read the full article on the Building website <here>

April 17th, 2018