Tideway staff joined members of Women into Construction (WiC) at City Hall this week to celebrate International Women’s Day and partake in gender equality workshops.
The not-for-profit works closely with Tideway, and has helped 36 women into roles on the project, becoming part of the team cleaning up the River Thames.
And for Kath Moore – founder and managing director of WiC – the importance of International Women’s Day and of celebrating women’s continued progress in an historically male-dominated industry cannot be overstated.
“It was very lonely in lots of ways,” Kath says of her early career in construction. “But I really enjoyed the work. I was young and determined and absolutely loved it.”
Kath qualified as a carpenter 35 years ago — at a time when most potential employers found it ‘laughable’ that she was looking for a route into construction.
Responses like, ‘Sorry, are you calling for your boyfriend?’ and ‘Oh, you’re a woman and you’re a bit small’ were what she grew to expect.
But against these odds, Kath carved out a very successful career as a carpenter, going on to run her own business before later moving into teaching.
“As a teacher of carpentry,” she explains, “my classrooms were full of guys. Although the women would be really keen, and equally as competent, it would invariably be the men who’d go on to secure jobs.”
In 2008, Kath was recruited to work on the London Olympics to set up a project to support women into construction.
She says: “Finally, I thought, someone’s realised there’s an issue with getting women into the industry”.
“ ‘The ODA Women Into Construction Project’, was initially a 2-year pilot, but it did really well. The project more than doubled the numbers of women working on the Olympic Build in that time. “We changed the culture. It’s not rocket science – we worked with women wanting to get into the construction industry and contractors wanting to increase gender diversity, charting a clear pathway to make it easy for both.”
Kath’s work on the Olympics continued to evolve, and in 2015, Women Into Construction became a not-for-profit community interest company working on large projects across London, including Crossrail,
Kath credits a large part of the success of WiC down to the leaders of major infrastructure projects recognising the importance of women in their workforce, embedding Kath and her team within their companies and, most importantly, giving them access to their supply chain.
This has been exemplified perfectly by WiC being embedded within the Tideway program, a partnership that has facilitated 46 work placements for women, with 36 of those leading directly to jobs with Tideway.
Kath adds: “We were asked to run a career development workshop at City Hall for International Women’s Day, which was fantastic. Marcia Williams of Tideway was a wonderful motivational speaker, and members of Tideway staff and supply chain present”
In 2018 Kath was awarded an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours for services to the construction industry.
Tideway’s HR Director Julie Thornton spoke on the importance of the partnership: “Tideway strives to create an inclusive workplace culture and the commitment to gender parity is a significant part of our business strategy.
"Having Women in Construction embedded within Tideway our supply chain supports women to join the project, helping us work towards our gender parity goals and leaving a lasting legacy for the construction industry. It’s inspiring to witness their impact on our workforce in such a relatively short amount of time.”
For more information about Women into Construction, go to women-into-construction.org