What do women do best? They assemble, create, organise, raise and ultimately they produce. It is therefore a natural transition that women should apply these strengths to the construction industry.
Only in recent years women have acknowledged that the construction industry presents infinite opportunities for them. What women bring to the industry are strengths such as the ability to communicate, negotiate, understand the client and show empathy.
These are vital skills to have in the building industry as the major challenges currently facing the industry are not technologically-based, they are people-based, specifically people management.
As a residential builder you are creating not just a house you are building someone’s dream. It is an emotional, financial, stressful and timely process and needs to be handled with care and understanding.
When we established GJ Construction Group it was with this ethos in mind. Two professional women who wanted to bring the professionalism they had experienced and developed as educators and apply it to building. We looked for a word that would describe the point of difference of being women in construction and the word that embodied these traits is integrity.
Jennifer Wardrop and I wanted to bring an element of integrity, of professionalism and accountability to the industry. This is particularly important as in recent years there has been a great move forward to tighten the reigns on legislation and registration of building practitioners.
The Building Commission introduced the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Awards to encourage practitioners to pursue new skills, knowledge and to bring the desired element of professionalism for the industry. I was honoured to be the 2006 recipient of this award.
The awards encourage practitioners to extend their knowledge to create higher standards and credibility for the industry. It is paramount that business owners and directors commit to continuing professional development for themselves and their staff to secure the future of professionalism of the industry.
Running a business and keeping abreast of legislation and industry changes is a challenge, however as woman in the industry, one of the greatest challenges has been the acquisition of credibility.
Jennifer and I at GJ Construction Group have focused on developing this through hard work and by surrounding ourselves with people who believe in you. The diversity of skills needed to succeed in the industry range from supervision, accounting skills, project management, mediation, negotiating, and counselling.
Gone are the days of the builder being simply the bloke who had a hammer and nails in the back of his van, builders now need to be best practice in all skills – technical, business and personal.
The industry is challenging and does lend itself to a greater influx of female practitioners.
By Glenda Didier, co-owner and co-director of the GJ Construction Group