Association News, Australia, Events, Features

Diversity in construction at Inside Construction Expo

ICON Expo will promote the technological, sustainable, and safer developments coming to the fore in the construction industry.

Inside Construction Expo, an event dedicated to major commercial and civil projects in the Australian construction industry, aims to shine a spotlight on key industry issues such as skills shortages, automation and other digitisation, safety, and diversity in the industry.

Featuring a range of top-level speakers to address these issues, the event will tackle diversity in construction head on as it provides a platform for women who have made it in a traditionally male-dominated industry. 

According to the Australian Government’s labour market insights published in June last year, 1,322,100 people were employed in the construction sector at that time. Of that total, only 13.3 per cent were female, roughly totalling a miserly 176,000 workers. With a projected total of over 100,000 roles in construction currently going unfilled, according to a report from Arcadis Construction Costs, the time to address the gender diversity in the industry is now.

“The crane industry’s average age is over 50 years old, and with that comes a lot of conservative attitudes on diversity and inclusivity in the workplace,” says co-owner and Business Manager of Quicklift Crane and Access Hire Karli Sutherland. “Women in the construction industry is one issue, but women in the crane industry is a topic in its own right; Inside Construction Expo will be a good forum to platform these ideas and challenge the pre-existing norms.”

Set to speak on Inside Construction Expo’s Women in Construction panel, Karli is a Board Director of The Crane Industry Council of Australia where she actively advocates for supporting women in non-traditional roles in the male-dominated industry.

“Inside Construction Expo will give us a chance to increase the visibility of diversity in the industry,” said Karli. “One part of the issue is for women to be supporting women, but it’s also up to our male counterparts to be champions for change in our industry. Everyone has a role to play in creating an inclusive culture.”

Her sentiments are echoed by the Australian Constructors Association’s CEO Jon Davies, who highlighted the need for change in cultural attitudes in the construction industry to attract a more gender-diverse workforce.

The National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) is also set to feature at the event. Formed in 1995, the not-for-profit organisation aims to help champion and empower women in the construction (and other adjacent) industries across a global network spanning the US, New Zealand, and Canada. 

With a core policy of achieving a minimum of 25% per cent female participation across all construction by the end of 2025, NAWIC is attempting to achieve this by addressing pay disparities and improving workplace inclusion and safety to arrive at its ultimate objective: equity in female participation.

However, as Karli notes, gender disparity is only one part of the equation when it comes to tackling diversity in the construction industry. With other facets including multiculturalism, accessibility and general inclusivity, Karli believes the more diverse a business’ profile is, the more chance it holds of bucking the norm and incorporating new ideas toward progress. According to a recent report by report by global management consultants McKinsey, companies are likely to be more profitable if they display a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workforce.

“Inside Construction Expo will give us a chance to send that message that everyone in the industry holds the capacity to make construction and the crane industry a more welcoming place,” she said.

“Every worker, manager, business owner can contribute toward diversifying the workforce and fostering new ideas of progress, and that’s what we want to discuss on the Women in Industry panel.”

Finalists of the awards:

Prime Creative Media, in partnership with a range of titles, will be hosting the inaugural Inside Construction Foundation Awards on September 20.

Set to take place at the Melbourne at Showtime Events Centre, at South Wharf in Docklands, the cocktail-themed evening will run from 7pm until late at night. The event will recognise and celebrate the construction industry, and the individuals working in the sector.

The awards will promote major construction and civil infrastructure contributions, with innovative major and local projects promoting standards pertaining to safety and environmental sustainability to be honoured. 

READ MORE: Inside Construction Expo releases 2023 program.

Send this to a friend