Today (Thursday 8 March) is International Women’s Day and Barratt Homes in Wales is marking this by celebrating the successes of female staff across an array of skills.
Sales director Richard Lawson is proud of the diversity of his team and the company’s approach to encouraging women to build successful careers within the construction sector. “In the past, our industry has been largely dominated by men but that is fast changing as we look to recruit the very best talent – and gender just doesn’t come into that decision process,” he says. “Those wishing to join our team can choose from a wide range of roles – from construction to sales and marketing – and each offers its own mix of exciting challenges and rewards.”
Here are just a few of the company’s current team, telling us about their roles and thoughts on how housebuilding is attracting more women to its ranks.
Paula Weston-Dimond, senior sales manager
Paula has worked with Barratt in South Wales during a career spanning 22 years.
“I ensure the sales team achieves its targets – and maintains the highest level of customer service,” she says. “Originally, I worked part time as a sales adviser because the hours suited my lifestyle at the time. The route to my current job took a lot of drive, determination and commitment.
“As a woman within an industry that has traditionally been male-oriented, it has taken a lot of hard work to get recognition for my skills. Times have definitely changed now though. I believe you should recruit the right person for the job – regardless of their gender.
“Now it’s a case of promoting the industry – and all the benefits it provides – as widely as possible. Barratt already works closely with schools and colleges to highlight the many opportunities available. And that’s an excellent start. My advice to anyone considering a career in construction is to be prepared to work hard and aim to be the best you can at everything you do.”
Rebecca Roberts, site manager
Rebecca has worked at Barratt Homes for the last five years and credits hard work and determination for her success.
“I may still be in the minority but I hope that I have broken down some of the misconceptions or perhaps outdated opinions about what it takes to do the job,” she says. “Every site manager has his or her strengths and weaknesses.”
“We need to promote women who are already in the industry and are respected by their peers to younger women and girls so they are encouraged to see what a rewarding career they could also obtain and be part of.”
Claudia Schiavo, marketing executive
Claudia has been working with Barratt in South Wales for more than five years.
“I’m mainly responsible for digital marketing and communications here – including generating leads through our website,” she says. “I had the incredible opportunity to join the company at just 18, and it was a wonderful way to gain experience and study for my marketing degree.
“I love my job because every day is different, and I work with great people. Seeing the results of our marketing – by the business achieving sales success – is always so rewarding. Women are more than capable of working within the construction industry, so I hope to see the numbers increase further over the coming years.”
Hollie Lewis, sales adviser
Hollie is enjoying her first job in the construction industry.
My job is to sell homes – but it’s also about being ‘the face of Barratt’ and taking our customers on this very exciting journey of purchasing a new property,” she says. “I’ve always been interested in property – in fact a previous job involved kitchen sales. Then, after buying two homes myself, I realised it was something I’d like to be more involved in.
“Handing over the keys on completion day, and knowing you’ve made a real difference to their lives by helping them get into their new property, is the most rewarding part of my job.
“I’ve always worked within male-dominated industries, so I don’t notice it. Possibly men and women have different skills sets and I believe a more even mix of these within the workplace could lead to new ways of learning and adapting. Women can learn from men and vice versa.
“If I had a daughter, I would encourage her to not let society assumptions direct her into a career, and to follow her interests and passions.”
Suzie Hewitt, sales manager
Suzie and has worked for Barratt in South Wales for almost five years and currently is responsible for delivering sales targets across five construction sites.
“My job demands a strong working relationship with all key departments within the business – from construction and technical to commercial and marketing,” she says. “I have always had a strong work ethic, and am open to experiencing roles within different sectors to broaden my skills.
“The incredibly varied nature of this role makes it interesting, and certainly challenges you on a regular basis. I certainly don’t think being a woman makes any difference here. I have never been treated differently. Like my colleagues, I feel that employing the ‘right person’ for the role is the most important thing.”
Zoe Aubrey, planning manager
Zoe role means she oversees planning applications and site promotions and works closely with other members of the technical and land teams.
“Having worked within the consultancy sector for 15 years, I was ready for a new challenge,” she said. “I like the varied nature and the ever-evolving complexity of the town planning system. And it’s great to be involved in the development process from the start to finish – helping Barratt in South Wales to deliver new places where people aspire to live.
“It’s great to see more women coming into construction – but it’s more about being employed to do a job you’re good at. And that means making people aware of the whole industry and the opportunities it presents.”
Come to listen and talk about housebuilding careers – apprenticeship, diversity, training and leadership – at our New Homes Debate in London on Thursday 15 March 2018.