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Readdressing the gender balance

Midland Heart

As a large employer in the Midlands region, we have a diverse workforce of around 1,600 people, which reflects the differing demographics of the communities we serve. Being inclusive has always been at the very core of our organisation, as when we embrace our diversity, we attract and retain the right people to provide the best service.

Put simply, we want Midland Heart to be a place where anyone can succeed, irrespective of their background or diversity.

Diversity is one element of inclusivity; equality is another and we feel we can do more to balance gender representation in areas of our business that, for generations, have been viewed by society as almost exclusively as male or female.

For our business, this specifically relates to our teams working in property maintenance and care services. There is no prize for guessing which roles seem traditionally to be filled by men and which are typically targeted at women.

Our gender pay report published in March this year demonstrated how under-represented women are in our property care team.  Indeed, we currently have no females working in property care in spite of a growing number of women taking up what are stereo-typically seen as male roles in asset maintenance and surveying.   

We began to question, are we doing enough to support women into these roles? Is there a pool of talented individuals we are failing to tap into? Are there other barriers women need to overcome to enter this work space?

Besides asking ourselves these questions our executive team are committed to taking action and looking at the opportunities available to us to help address this imbalance.

A major focus for us now is our partnership with Women into Construction, a national organisation connecting women with contractors and training agencies - to promote training, work placements and mentoring opportunities in the construction industry.

This new partnership will help us to tackle our immediate challenge of attracting and recruiting females to these roles, providing us with access to a talented pool of candidates who are at a variety of stages in their career as a trades person.

Despite having roles to fill and running four campaigns to recruit Multi-Trade Operatives to property care over the past 12 months, we received only five female applicants from over 190 applications.

We have already taken some significant steps to change the way we target our recruitment campaigns to help make some of these traditional male roles more appealing to females, adapting the look, tone and language used.  However we hope this partnership will help us to be more targeted and ensure women considering this career path see us as an option.

We are also working with Women in Construction to adopt new channels to recruit including setting up a work placement programme and exploring the possibility of starting our own sector-based work academy.

Work placements offer individuals a valuable opportunity to gain industry experience and to showcase their skills to prospective employers. The statistics show that approximately 50 per cent of those who complete a placement progress into permanent employment. We are hopeful this will be the case for us.

We have worked hard to understand the story behind our data. There is no single answer as there are many factors why women may not apply for these kinds of roles, but we are committed to ensuring these opportunities are available to all and that any existing barriers are removed.  

This presents a significant challenge for us and, indeed, the wider sector but it also presents us with a real opportunity to address some of the wider societal norms that exist and try to breakdown what is really seen as a traditionally male role.