BE Better: Emily Carr on gender and EDI in construction

A new series of BE-ST's Accelerate to Zero Podcast all about equality, diversity and inclusion has kicked off. Hosted by Kirsty Duncan, Head of Stakeholder Engagement, the first episode is with Emily Carr, Design Manager at Kier North & Scotland and former Vice Chair of BE-ST's Change Makers.

Emily Carr

Kirsty and Emily cover a number of key aspects of equality, diversity, and inclusion in the construction sector, including insights from research into equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) which Emily undertook in Sweden.


Exploring gender disparities in construction


The podcast hosts delve into some revealing statistics related to gender in the construction industry. For example, only 15% of the construction workforce comprises of women, and a mere 2.7% of modern apprenticeship new starts are female.


Emily also talks about the gender pay gap in the construction industry, which stands at 23%. Both Kirsty and Emily acknowledge that while gender is a focal point, the broader goal is to address as wide reaching as possible EDI challenges in the built environment.


The impact of diversity in the workforce


Both Kirsty and Emily highlight the benefits of increasing diversity within the workforce, noting that it brings different perspectives to the table and fosters a wider range of ideas.


A more inclusive workplace better represents society and communities. Emily adds to this that challenging industry norms and advocating for marginalised voices to create a more balanced and innovative sector is critical to improving the inclusivity of the sector.


Learning from Sweden's EDI initiatives


During the episode. Emily gets the chance to share some insights from her Churchill Fellowship research in Sweden which she conducted to explore ongoing initiatives promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion in the construction industry over there.


She discovered that EDI is high on the Swedish agenda with the government setting ambitious targets for increased female representation in the workforce. Emily talks about a particularly notable initiative by Pirjo Unnerstad at Ikano Bostad, a developer linked to IKEA, where they successfully promoted a female carpentry training program, challenging competitors to adopt similar models for the greater benefit of the industry.


As the episode wraps up, Kirsty encourages listeners to come and engage in conversations around EDI at the DIveIn conference taking place in Glasgow on the 29th of February.


The conversation with Emily Carr sheds light on the challenges and opportunities in the construction industry, emphasising the need for collaboration, innovation, and a collective commitment to diversity and inclusion.


People say the biggest barrier to women's advancement is the glass ceiling. I think that's a myth. In developing, attracting and retaining women, agile ways of working, flexible ways of working are smashing that ceiling. Women are more ambitious than before the pandemic and and flexibility is fuelling that ambition. Emily Carr
Design Manager, Kier North & Scotland