We need diversity as well as equality. At Kebbell, 40% of our workforce is female, including our Sales and Marketing Director Andrea Fawell, who sees the problem as twofold. "Sadly, whilst there is still gender inequality, the main problem is diversity because there are so few women working as subcontracted trades, in construction or in the technical department in particular, but also in the boardrooms. This really is an area where improvements in the industry could and must be made."
It's about education. Andrea sees education as one way of remedying this. She recalled an occasion when she took a table at a careers day in an all-girls school. Dressed in traditional construction gear, complete with a hi-vis vest and hard hat, no one came to talk to her! On other occasions, she promoted interior design and town planning and got plenty of interest. "Interior design is a typically 'soft' skill that attracts women, but there are many other areas where one's innate talents can be used. Artistic individuals can do well in architecture. If you are of a strategic mindset, go for legal or planning. Mathematical brains might consider engineering and practical trades."
Andrea goes on to say: "It is about finding your niche and choosing something that is suited to your skills and that you find interesting. We need more apprenticeships and training roles in every area of the business. We need to enhance woman profiles in different property roles and include them in the design and implementation at each stage. We also need to conduct surveys around inclusion within our businesses, and senior leadership needs to lead conversations around women in property and make an effort to understand the nuances of what different people in the workforce may need."
Why is diversity in the property workforce so important? In Andrea's opinion, diversity in the property workforce has never been so important. "There is an increased appetite for real change, and it has never been so important to get inclusion and diversity in all areas right, to unite us and to promote respect after one of the most difficult years in living history. Different people bring different things to the table. We don't do well with a linear approach and need a wide range of ideas and experiences. Diversity increases awareness, individuality and curiosity, and leads to better understanding and new ways of thinking. It also creates a healthier working and living environment, prevents bullying and stereotypes and ultimately is good for business."
Property, a very rewarding business. We spoke with several other women who work at Kebbell, and they echo Andrea's sentiment. Clare Clarke from Customer Care said: "A home is not designed or built by one person, and it takes a team to bring any project to fruition. A good team is made up of many different skills and, therefore, many different people. Women can bring new perspectives and skills such as problem-solving and relationship-building to ensure that the project is efficient and customer-focused."
Northern Sales Manager Linda Tillisch said: "A sales role is not without its challenges in a male-dominated industry, but diplomacy and an ability to smooth ruffled feathers is something most women have learnt to do easily."
Andrea loves her job and gets enormous satisfaction from it. "The camaraderie on site is amazing, and there is something so tangible and fulfilling from buying the land to handing over the keys to someone's new home. Property is so close to all of our hearts. After all, we all live somewhere! Women certainly need to be better represented in the industry.”
Choose to Challenge In 2021 the theme for International Women's Day is "Choose to Challenge". At Kebbell, we choose to challenge the property industry through diverse and inclusive workplaces. We strive for a working environment that celebrates and recognises women's achievements.
So this year, we would like to wish all of our friends and colleagues a Happy International Women's Day, and let's see what the next 12 months bring!