Creating a future construction sector that Anna would be proud of

Oct 13, 2017

Two important things have happened in the last week.

Firstly, UK Construction Week, the UK’s largest construction trade show.

Secondly, and more importantly, former Laing O’Rourke CEO and the first woman to take the helm of a major UK building contractor, Anna Stewart, has died.

I attended UK Construction Week to support various construction clients in a variety of capacities. It was a great show – full of inspirational keynotes, quality debates, product innovation and companies pushing the boundaries of the possible in every sense.

Without criticising what was no doubt a great gathering for the sector, I couldn’t help but reflect that it did excellently what the construction sector always does excellently – talk to itself.

My mind wandered to Anna Stewart many times whilst I was at the show this week. She joined Laing Construction as a trainee in 1982 – 35 years ago – the year I was born in fact. Not the typical career choice for a woman back then.

But here’s the really sad thing. It’s not a typical career choice for a woman now.

We need to do two things in the construction sector.

  1. All of us need to spend less time talking to each other about how great our sector is and more time talking to the rest of the world about why to come and join it.
  1. All us girls who work in construction (and wouldn’t be anywhere else) need to stand up and be counted – be the best advert we can be for a sector that is bursting with equal opportunity for both men and women.   

I said it when I wrote my very first blog when I launched this business nearly five years ago and I’ll say it again now.

Construction has a PR problem (we get it) – but it also has a massive PR opportunity – and that’s the 3 million (approximately) of us (a whopping 10 per cent of UK employment) who already work in the sector.  We need to love construction from the inside out because if we don’t – how can we expect anyone else to.

Another 35 years from now…let’s make Anna proud.

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