NSW pilots 'Culture Standard' to get more women in construction sector

Standard is a 'roadmap' to make work sites more inclusive

NSW pilots 'Culture Standard' to get more women in construction sector

New South Wales is testing out an Australian-first "Culture Standard" across constructions sites in a bid to boost the participation of women in the construction sector.

"The Culture Standard sets out a basic roadmap to making sites more inclusive because when sites work better for women, they work better for everyone," said Metropolitan Roads Minister Natalie Ward in a statement.

It comes as women in construction workplaces become subject of "sexist slurs, offensive graffiti, and second-rate amenities that don't accommodate their needs," according to the minister.

"We also know another key barrier is construction work is typically a six-day, 50 plus hour a week job, which is why this programme will seek to improve flexible working conditions for women who are juggling family commitments," said Ward.

Among the initiatives included in the pilot are the following:

  • No offensive material on site
  • Ensuring appropriate amenities are provided, including toilets for women, sanitary bins and safe changerooms
  • Identifying and disclosing of gender pay gaps across roles, as well as implementing plans to reduce gender pay gaps
  • Providing mental health first aiders on site
  • Setting clear targets for the appointment of women
  • A Monday-to-Friday working programme, or when this is not viable ensure all workers are working a 5-in-7 programme to give workers adequate rest and recovery time.

Read more: NSW government 'sets a new standard' for parental leave

The initiative will be piloted at the new Wentworth Point High School and Mulgoa Road upgrade stage 1 construction sites, according to the state's announcement. It will also be led by the Construction Industry Culture Taskforce, which is a collaboration between the NSW and Victorian governments, the Australian Constructors Association, and industry leaders.

"Construction sites will be happier, healthier, and more productive places to work when there is better work-life balance and diversity, and more access to wellbeing and mental health support," said Infrastructure Minister Rob Stokes.

"The industry has one of the worst gender pay gaps in the country at around 30% so we're going to trial the publication of that data so we can work towards women being fairly paid for their equal contribution."

The Culture Standard is an additional measure to the $20.2 million funding allocation in this year's budget, according to Treasurer Matt Keana.

"The NSW Government is committed to trialling new ways of doing things to boost productivity and secure brighter futures for the 369,500 construction workers across NSW."

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