The role of diversity in the construction sector
The Construction Sector Accord recently partnered with Diversity Works NZ, the national body for workplace diversity and inclusion, to talk about diversity as part of the Accord's Towards High Performance webinar series.
Construction is not always perceived as an attractive career choice, which means the industry is missing out on potential workers bringing diverse backgrounds, perspectives and insights.
Women make up only 18 per cent of the construction-related workforce and Māori and Pasifika are under-represented in skilled professions and leadership roles.
Through its Transformation Plan, the Construction Sector Accord is committed to working with government and industry to build on existing diversity campaigns that promote construction as a good career option. In order to address systemic, long-term skills shortages - that are being exacerbated by COVID-19 – the industry must think about participation and inclusion of all people, in new ways.
At the webinar, four construction sector organisations shared their work that was recognised as excellent at the recent 2020 Diversity Awards NZ™.
Mission critical for the construction sector to be inclusive
Speaking on the webinar, CEO of Diversity Works NZ Maretha Smit says that reaching diversity and inclusion was already on the cards when the Construction Sector Accord was set up in 2019, but COVID-19 has turned up the urgency on these issues for the sector.
"Our Covid-19 recovery is largely focused on ensuring the sector can be productive and future proof, but a high proportion of people in this sector are at retirement age," she says.
"Our solution was driven by importing skills, but migration has come to a standstill. Our closed borders mean we need to rely on our talent and labour pool in New Zealand."
Several organisations across the country are taking the lead by introducing policies that are bringing diversity and inclusivity to the construction workforce.
Aurecon's new parental leave policy disrupting gender stereotypes
Shared Care, launched in 2017, provides employees with genuine choice about how they balance work and home responsibilities by encouraging ‘secondary carers’ to play a more active part in caring for children. The policy offers 14 weeks of paid parental leave, taken as a block or interspersed with work days, with KiwiSaver contributions continued for 14 weeks of any unpaid parental leave.
The policy has a direct focus on equality and treating everybody fairly, including welcoming women back into the workplace after having a baby.
Aurecon Government and Defence Leader Josie Fitzgerald says the Shared Care policy is a step in the right direction to address the under representation of women in the engineering industry.
"In three years we have seen a drop in female attrition from 12 per cent to nine per cent, and 52 per cent of men taking up this policy.
"It is about making it easier for our people to look after their kids while staying in the workforce, and it is a pathway for our female staff to move through the organisation."
HEB Construction addresses literacy and numeracy issues
Addressing literacy and numeracy issues among HEB Construction's 1000-strong workforce has seen unexpected benefits including a 62 per cent increase in those undertaking new qualifications or apprenticeships.
The company believed that literacy problems could be a barrier to both productivity and workplace health and safety. Signs of a potential problem included a lack of questioning by employees at pre-start and toolbox meetings, a lack of understanding on how to complete paperwork, important questions not being asked at safety meetings and safety processes not being followed.
HEB Construction Learning and Development Manager Lesley Southwick says that people were declining training opportunities, and literacy and numeracy issues were a problem for the sector as a whole.
HEB created a course tailored on communications, with a focus on how employees can better improve themselves.
"We knew many people left school with no qualifications and many had a bad experience with learning or school, so we focused on producing a course that was fun and wanted to de-stigmatise it," she says.
"We wanted the course to focus on health and safety, to help people understand pre-starts and how to complete their paperwork. We focused on the words we use, and helped them gain confidence to speak up at pre-starts and toolboxes," Lesley says.
Around 50 people have completed the course in the past 18 months, with survey results showing that staff completing the courses feel more confident about reading and writing forms, and reading hazard boards. A massive 78 per cent of participants now feel more confident about speaking up at work.
Fletcher Construction showing young women opportunities in the sector
With only 18 per cent of Fletcher Construction's workforce being female, the company was determined to show young women the opportunities the sector can offer.
Fletcher Construction joined forces with GirlBoss NZ, an organisation focused on closing the gender gap in science, technology, engineering, maths, entrepreneurship and leadership.
Fletcher Construction Recruitment, Learning and Development Greer Williams says, "It's broadly understood in our sector that we struggle to attract females, so if there’s anything we can do to attract them, it's starting with education."
The GirlBoss Advantage programme gives 28 young women the chance to spend a week hearing about and participating in STEM - a curriculum based on educating students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The women undertaking the programme visited Fletcher Building sites, learnt about personal branding and networking, and took park in a Dragon's Den-style challenge, designed by the Fletcher Building Innovation team.
Greer says Fletcher Construction is also making the conversation around apprenticeships more diverse, and finding ways to make roles more appealing to females wanting to come into the industry.
"We also have very strong leadership in our business, both males and females, who are advocating for diversity."
Citycare recognised during COVID-19 lockdown
Citycare's work was recognised during the Covid-19 lockdown. Suddenly communities appreciated and valued the unsung work Citycare teams delivered. New Zealand needs this committed workforce to stay open and it needs a diverse talent pipeline to ensure delivery.
Citycare recognised it needed to expand its talent pool and pipeline by employing local people in the communities where it operates, with a focus on attracting young people, Māori, Pasifika and women to join its workforce.
Citycare Property Human Resource Manager Rachel Moore says it used an 'engage, educate and attract' strategy. This included engaging with the community, educating 30,000 school students across the country and volunteer days to attract talent.
Rachel says while Citycare's work isn't "sexy work", it’s essential that it gets done to keep communities running.
"We are attracting people who not only work (in these towns), but who live there and take pride in their work. It seems so simple, but it is so important. Localism is at the heart of our talent strategy," she says.
Citycare is also attracting young people to the team with its '2 in a Ute' programme, which pairs an older employee with a young person.
"This programme allows us to match the energy versus the enthusiasm of knowledge," she says.
"The older person can transfer what they know about the job, and now we have young people doing apprenticeships. It gives a young unemployed person the chance to have a career and a pathway to education."
Success stories the start of a bigger conversation
Director of the Construction Sector Accord Judy Zhang says, "We need to work together to shift entrenched attitudes and behaviours that we still come across in our sector. We need to all embrace diversity, equity and inclusion."
The Construction Sector Accord plans to create new ways of encouraging diversity in construction via educating industry, educating young people, educating for understanding and thought leadership.
This webinar was recorded on 24 November 2020. It includes speakers from Diversity Works NZ, Aurecon, HEB Construction, Fletcher Construction and Citycare.
Watch the full webinar(external link) - https://vimeo.com.
This video is a direct recording of the webinar, which includes footage of the speakers as they talk. There is also video footage provided by the represented companies interspersed throughout this webinar.
Tēnā koutou katoa. Ko Judy Zhang tōku ingoa, Kei Hīkina Whakatutuki ahau e mahi ana, Mōrena tēnā koutou katoa.
Welcome everyone, and thanks very much for joining this webinar, the role of diversity in the construction sector. My name is Judy Zhang, I'm the director of the Accord Transformation Unit, supporting the Construction Sector Accord Programme. The Construction Sector Accord is a partnership between industry and the government that is working to fix many of the issues and challenges facing the construction sector. Through it's three year transformation plan, the Accord is driving behaviour change to lift overall performance and achieve a safer, better skilled and more productive industry to showcase and share good practise across the sector. The Construction Sector Accord is proud to partner with Diversity Works New Zealand, the national body for workplace diversity and inclusion, on this webinar.
Promoting and supporting diversity in construction is a key focus for the Accord. It is also a core component of the people development workstream within the three year transformation plan. So why do we need a diverse workforce in construction? We know that construction is not always perceived as an attractive career choice for many, meaning the industry is missing out on a large potential pool of workers that brings diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and insights, and diversity is limited. For example, women make up only 18% of the construction related workforce, and we know that Māori and Pasifika are underrepresented in skilled up professions and leadership roles across the sector.
The Construction Sector Accord through the transformation plan is committed to working with the government and industry to build on existing diversity campaigns that promote construction as a good career option. We support and encourage existing initiatives, including great work being undertaken by Women in Trades, Engineering New Zealand's Diversity Agenda Accord, Women in Infrastructure Network and the National Association of Women in Construction. This is just some of the work already underway across the sector, supporting a more diverse and inclusive industry. We acknowledge, in order to address these systemic longstanding skills shortages that have been exacerbated by COVID-19, that we must think about participation and inclusion of all peoples in different and new ways.
Today we will hear from our four construction seat organisations whose work was recognised as excellent at the recent 2020 Diversity Awards New Zealand. The work these organisations are doing is outstanding and showcases innovative inclusion and diversity initiatives already underway. Now, it is my pleasure to introduce Maretha Smit, CEO of Diversity Works New Zealand, to discuss why New Zealand construction workplaces need to be inclusive and diverse, and share with us the results and insights from the annual New Zealand Workplace Diversity Survey.
Tēnā koutou katoa Judy. Thank you very much for that introduction and thank you for the invitation to be with you today to share on this very important topic. And thinking about the conversation that we're about to have today, I was struck by just how mission critical it is for the construction sector to get its approach through diversity and inclusion right, especially at this point in our global history. So government and industry leaders knew at the time of standing up the Construction Accord in 2019, that skill shortages and innovation in the sector were problems, and reaching to diversity and inclusion as part of the strategic response to these problems was already on the cards at that point in time, and then COVID happened, and it just dialled the urgency around these issues up by quite a few notches. So here we are today, reflecting on a sector where as you mentioned in your introduction, women make up only 18% of the workforce and Māori and Pasifika are underrepresented in skilled professions and leadership roles across the sector.
And this is in a context where our COVID recovery is largely dependent on getting the sector to be productive and to be future-proof. But the proportion of workers in the sector that are of retirement age has grown from 2% in the early 2000s to 5% as of 2017, so it's an ageing workforce and our solution to cutting shortages recently was pretty much driven by importing skills, which is reflected in the significant increase that we've seen in the number of Asian workers in the sector over the past decade, especially if we look at Auckland and then Canterbury. And of course, targeted migration has now also pretty much come to a standstill and our closed borders mean that we will need to learn how to rely on the talent and the labour pool that we've got inside our borders. We need to learn how to constructively invest in our young people, and we need to learn how to augment and diversify the skillsets of people who've been impacted by the shock associated with COVID-19. And that includes our women, Māori, Pasifika, migrant communities, and the older workforce, workers in our workforce.
But, over and above the most critical issue of talent supply, and the role the diversity and inclusion can play in addressing this issue, there is also another issue that I'd like to call out as far as the relationship between construction and diversity goes, and that is the issue of social licence. For many years to come we will still deal with the legacy of building some infrastructure that was planned and executed by homogenous teams of people, who didn't have any lived experience of the needs of the diverse communities that it intended to serve. We now know that this caused real structural disadvantages to women, to disabled people, to people from our rainbow community and specifically our ethnic communities.
So in order for the sector to regain the social licence to execute the projects on behalf of these communities, it needs to reflect the hopes, needs, desires, the aspirations of these communities through the decision-making structures in the sector. So, is it important to have a focus on diversity and inclusion in construction? Gosh, yes, now more than ever. Both from a skill shortage and from a social licence perspective, diversity and inclusion together with the well-being of our workforce are important social outcomes and we need to work very actively to create the culture change that's needed for a more sustainable sector. And how might we achieve and accelerate that change? Firstly, by recognising and rewarding best practise, much as what we're doing today, for instance, through awards like our New Zealand Diversity Awards or the Beacon Programme that's run by the Construction Accord.
We can also commit ourselves to measuring our progress through our practises in employment and in procurement, for instance through benchmarking ourselves on tools such as the internationally recognised rating scheme run by the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia and New Zealand, which is currently being used by City Rail Link, Autocare, Auckland Council and Waka Kotahi. But however we choose to achieve this change, the bottom line is not negotiable, it is time. Improving diversity and inclusion in construction is a long game, and every single project that we tackle today will have a ripple effect for the next 50 to a hundred years or more. So we need to break down the barriers, both the real and the perceived barriers, to make it easier for people across the whole spectrum of gender and ethnicity to join the industry.
And we have some really great examples of how this can be done exceptionally well. And I'm very pleased that we have a great selection of award winning stories here today that can inspire and change ongoing progress. Our first case study today is the New Zealand Diversity Works award winner in the Work Life Balance category, Aurecon. Aurecon introduced a new parental leave policy that encourages secondary carers to play a more active part in caring for children. Let's have a look at what they've done.
No one can really prepare you for what it actually is going to be like to be a mother and then trying to balance work as well.
Yes, I've got a two year old and three and a half year old, so I'm always pretty busy.
Because we've got flexible working arrangements at Aurecon called Yes Flex, it's been really great because I've been able to shift my time between my responsibilities as a mother and that at work as well.
Aurecon shared care policy gives employees genuine choice around how they balance work life and also caring responsibilities. So if an employee returns to work and then their partner takes up primary care and doesn't have access to parental pay, Aurecon will pay 150% of the employee's salary for up to 14 weeks.
So my husband stayed at home just to be able to get that time with our son, which was really valuable for him to say it built a really amazing bond. And then also allowed me to really focus on my career and I've been able to take on a lot of challenging roles and projects.
My wife runs a small business, by using that concentrated time and being the sole carer for 14 weeks, gave my wife amazing opportunity to reconnect with her small business. I thought that was amazing. I felt quite special and I felt quite privileged to have that opportunity.
It's much more than just diversity, it's much more than just inclusion, it's about equality and it's about treating everyone fairly, in particular, providing the opportunities to females to come back into the workplace after childbirth and equally to have the opportunity to go out and spend some time at home with the child, which is a really important time and not have that as a disbenefit to their careers.
If I didn't have flexible working arrangements, then I probably would have had to leave work.
Women have been particularly underrepresented in engineering and architecture for a long time, and the shared care policy looks to try and address that in a smart way.
Awesome work. It is my pleasure to welcome Josie Fitzgerald from Aurecon with us. Hello Josie.
Thank you for having me.
There we go. Hello. Thank you for joining us. Josie, shared care programmes are increasingly becoming a way to drive gender equity in the workplace, and your programme at Aurecon is particularly well-conceived and a very generous example of how diversity and inclusion initiative aligns with strategic outcomes. Can you please tell me of all the things you could have chosen to focus on, why did Aurecon prioritise the shared care policy? What was the problem that you tried to solve?
It came down to two things really, one was obviously gender equality and the other one was the wellbeing of our workforce. And so what we looked at was the shared care policy has been a critical part of our attraction and retention strategy for all genders. So in 2017, we introduced shared care as part of our parental leave policies, that provide financial incentive options during the child's first year, that encourages secondary carers to step into a more active caring role. And really what we're trying to do is actually have it so that all of our people could access looking after their children, but also access the workforce. And it was really about an overarching policy to provide all of our employees with that genuine choice, about how they balance work with their caring responsibilities.
And it sits alongside, as you see from the video. So it's alongside our Yes flexible working policy, which allows flexibility for everybody in our organisation regardless of role or location. And we also looked at really trying to disrupt the gender stereotypes for working and hearing women currently take on the majority of unpaid work in the home including childcare. And so what we were really trying to do was actually create a pathway for our female staff to move through the organisation and look at the opportunities they had and actually really show that we are absolutely committed to... Men have taken on that caring role for their families as well. So really it's about making it easier for our people to access the ability to look after their young children while staying in the workforce.
And sharing the load of care to help women progress through work in exactly the same way that men can. And how have you gone about to decide exactly what your shared care programme should look like?
Right. Well, so we actually pitched it back in 2017, like I say, and it was actually co-designed with the people team and with the employees. So we developed a policy initially around what we thought it should look like, but then in the first 12 months, we actually worked with the people who were taking it on, to make sure that it fitted to different unique scenarios. And then what we actually did was run an internal, extensive communications programme around the policy, to make sure that everyone was aware of it and how to access it. One of the key things we were really focused on was having leadership basically supporting the launch of the shared care policy.
And in measuring it, are you measuring the impact of that and what that might do to the concerns and the strategic problems that you try to identify initially, in terms of progression, are you happy with the results that it's delivering?
Oh, it's actually been amazing. We've seen a drop in female attrition from 12% down to 9% since it was introduced in 2017, so over three years. And we've also seen an increase in men taking up this policy, obviously from 0% up to 52% in the same period. So the number of men taking parental leave now of any types significantly increased as well since we implemented the policy. And importantly, what we've seen is it's actually normalised right across the workforce, the balance of work and care. So everyone can see that everyone has access to this and that men are taking time off to care for their children as well. So it's creating a really balanced opportunity for everybody in the workforce.
That's amazing. I just love how the conversation has matured over the years from making the workplace more family-friendly for women, to how we share the load to give women the freedom to fly and to actually progress in their careers. Thank you so very much for that Josie, it's great work. Hopefully time permitting, we can get back to you during the Q and A, but later. And just a reminder for all our participants, please put your questions in the chat box on the platform, and we'll do our very best to get to those questions a bit later in the session. So very next I'd like to introduce HEB Construction. Let's have a look at what they have done to address literacy issues amongst their thousand strong workforce.
Strategically, HEB is trying to develop a learning culture across the company.
The problem really was that we wanted more people to take up the apprenticeship programmes, and we saw that they weren't taking up that opportunity and we recognised it, and in a lot of cases, this was because they had a literacy and numeracy problem.
We decided to do Safer People Communications and give them the opportunity to succeed at learning.
So I suffer from a little bit of dyslexia, spelling and writing for me is a bit impossible at times.
Being able to take part in this course, I've actually learned tips and tricks on how to handle that.
It was actually good like the paperwork aspect of it, it just gave me the confidence to not only fill it out, but also understand it and communicate it better back to my managers and my teammates as well.
So everyone that we put through the course can go into an apprenticeship or any other qualification or training that suits their role. And so we've had a 60% uptake of people go into the trade apprenticeships. That's just wonderful. It's great.
It has shown me that higher up is actually willing to upgrade us, upskill us.
The quality of our work and the quality of our tradesmen just goes up all the time.
Oh, it's really humbling. We have seen the individuals themselves shine and stand a bit taller, and I've been delighted to see that affect their lives at work and outside of work.
Oh, it's just great. It makes my heart sing and it's really why I'm in learning and development to just really see people be the best that they can and give people the opportunity that they might never have had before.
And with us today to talk about this very important programme is Lesley Southwick. Tena koutou Lesley, welcome.
Lovely to see you again. Now, HEB Construction was a finalist this year in the Skills Highway category, which is focused on improving literacy and numeracy, and this is such an important issue. We know that in New Zealand, one in four adults have literacy difficulties in their everyday life, and that's more than 1.25 million adults. How have you gone about to identify people with literacy problems? And did you have any resistance from those people who were concerned about being stigmatised as a result of the disadvantages?
So we knew that people were declining training opportunities and we knew that the sector as a whole had a literacy and numeracy problem. So we went about doing a whole lot of pre-start talks to the whole crew and the whole team, and by doing that we talked about Safer People Communication course, this was not about... We didn't talk about it as such in terms of literacy and numeracy, but it was more about a communications course, to help you communicate at work and particularly at home as well. We also knew that many people leave school without any qualifications, and that quite a few of our people had had a bad experience in terms of learning and the school experience. So we offered the communications course as a prerequisite to being able to do the qualifications and to do the apprenticeship. So there were a few, we wanted people to take up more training opportunities, to take up more qualifications.
And to do that, we really just focused on making the course fun and to de-stigmatise it, because it was about communications and it wasn't so much about literacy and numeracy, it was about how they could better improve themselves. We also knew that if we were to grow our capability, we needed to increase a pipeline of skilled people coming through, and this was one way to do it. So from this, we had 60% of the people take up the opportunity of doing the apprenticeships that they had done. So it was really successful in that respect.
Great. And literacy and numeracy, it includes quite a range of skills for life. So as well as reading, writing, and working with the numbers, it's about communication, technical skills, and as you mentioned there, the life skills. So can you talk a bit more about the Safer Communications programme and what that involved?
We went with our provider, which was Upskills, and we wanted to make it really contextualised around health and safety. We wanted people to understand what they were doing at pre-start and understand the paperwork more. So we really focused on the words that we used, in terms of our pre-start and particularly around health and safety, and we wanted to also make it fun. Really, it was a 16 week, two hours a week course, and it started at like 7:00 in the morning in some cases, and in other cases, it started at different times of the day that suited the course. Mostly it was around focusing on, preparing them to gain confidence and speaking up at pre-starts, at toolboxes, to understand the health and safety routes. And in terms of the numeracy, some of our people had higher numeracy than we expected. And we were able to get them to really understand and work in some complex equations around what they did on site.
So that was around measuring and looking at cubit square metres and all of that. So they really were enthused about that. We contextualised all to things that they liked. So a lot of men like fishing, so we started the numeracy part of it around the volume, around how many fish and what that would look like, and then we took it from there. So the trick was to really contextualise it to one more interesting theme and to be able to redefine that back to what HEB as a company needed, and Upskills our provider was really good at doing that.
And I have it you've got about a thousand more people in the company. How many in the organisation have gone through the course?
So we only started it last year. So last year was our first year of doing this programme, and so we've had about 50 people over the last 18 months go through COVID, kind of put a bit of a stop to this year's training. But we've had probably about 20/25 people this year. So 50 all up, we had 30 places each year for the last two years. We will just keep on building on that.
And next steps in the programme?
The next step in the programme is really we're in the middle of reviewing it at the moment, and we will look at the structure of the 16 weeks two hours works for the business. But also we want to contextualise it and use more digital literacy, introduce much more digital literacy and much more support around apprenticeships. Well, also including health and safety, we've identified really some of the ways that questions are asked in terms of apprenticeship and in terms of all of the training, people don't understand those. And so we wanted to really focus for the next 12 months on understanding what does evidence mean and how to answer questions and how to learn more. So it's more around how to learn and more around the innovation side of things as well. So there's a big component of it in terms of innovation and speaking up, and we'll put more emphasis on that and more emphasis on that different aspect of the learning, particularly around apprenticeships and how to answer those questions and understand what is meant.
Great. Thanks Lesley. Lovely to talk to you. If we do have time a little bit later, I would like to add one of the people or the employees on the video were talking about dyslexia. And if we've got time, I would love to just get your sense about neurodiversity in the construction sector and what you've discovered with that. And if we've got some time a bit later, we'll get back to that. Let's keep moving. Lesley, thank you very much. Let's see. What has the Fletcher Building done? They were finalists in the Diversity Awards Tomorrow's Workforce category and they will be talking about the GirlBoss New Zealand initiative.
Across our business, we have 18% females and it's a really huge goal of ours to increase that number. And we want them to come into our graduate programmes. The problem is there aren't enough females at universities to actually choose from.
If you don't have a sort of 50/50 pool to draw on, in the universities, in the trades, you're sort of on a hiding to nothing. And so we're trying to attract females into the industry and then we work through them on their journey through the company.
So to increase the talent pipelines, we decided to work with GirlBoss, where you're actually fostering those relationships with young females.
So we started off without in school workshops, but we kept hearing the feedback that they wanted real life access to what it's really like in a corporate environment. And so from that, the GirlBoss Advantage Programme was born.
The GirlBoss Advantage Programme powered by Fletcher Building is a five day rapid-fire internship programme. It's a completely transformational experience.
Being super passionate about STEM and being a super ambitious female sadly does make you the odd one out, so going to the internship and having all these other girls with these similar interests who are just as passionate and just as ambitious really made me realise that there's such a strong community for me out there, and that I really do have a family of girls with the same interests.
They were all like-minded, motivated and really inspirational. And the community that was made was really awesome.
I'm more open to ideas, and I know how to better myself in difficult situations.
We really put them through the paces. We got them to design their house in the future, and they had to do a Dragon's Den type scenario in front of our execs.
We ended up winning, which was super, super exciting. And from that, my group and I have been awarded a paid internship at Fletcher Buildings.
So when we hear that feedback, thanks to the programme, they now feel confident to go into engineering, to be unapologetically ambitious. It was a really humbling experience.
The five days could not have gone any better. The quality of the girls was amazing. They were so enthusiastic and so engaged within the whole programme.
Williams, from Fletcher Building.
Hello. Hi Greer. Wow. The enthusiasm of this programme is infectious. Why did you choose to partner with GirlBoss?
Look, I mean, if you just took one look at that video, you would see Alexia and the energy that she has, not just for female talent, but for young female talents. So Alexia came to us with some great ideas and initiatives that she'd already been working on. And when we could see the industry connection and real development for these young women, we thought, actually this really works. It gives us the ability to showcase construction in the broader sector as well as actually enabling these women to go on a learning journey as they progress through their time with us. So it was a bit of a no brainer really. She's been a pleasure to deal with. GirlBoss as an organisation have been fantastic to partner with.
And given that only 18% of Fletcher Building staff are female, did you have any trouble convincing your male colleagues that this was a good idea? And how did you get everybody on board?
And you must be very proud about the fact that other companies are also contacting GirlBoss to secure their programme in their workplaces. Will you at Fletcher run this programme again?
Look, it's great. It's really good to see the programme being run in other organisations, and I think anything that we can do to promote female development is great. We actually have already run it again. Just in October, we ran a programme specifically with Fletcher Construction and Fletcher Living. So we've seen really good value out of it. We've seen some fantastic young females being introduced into our business. And we're now pipelining them through into our intern programmes and hopefully onto our grad programmes as well. So absolutely, we'll continue to partner with GirlBoss on this one.
And other organisations, if you need to give them some advice and some perspective about what they can do to ensure that they've got more females affected through the construction sector, what would be that advice that you would give them?
Yeah, it's a tricky one, isn't it? Because I think we're all working pretty hard on that one across the industry. And I think from a personal view, I'm really passionate that we are showcasing and making the roles, I suppose, and making our roles really appealing, more appealing to females. I think there is definitely a bias that goes towards construction that is, this is the men. So being quite specific about how we target our recruitment campaigns and our sourcing strategies. So that's something that we're looking at. And specifically, we're thinking about apprenticeships, we're not just going to talk to men or boys in boys schools, we are talking to the females as well. So we are actually trying to change that conversation, to make it a broader sort of diverse conversation for males and females.
And the other thing that we are trying to do is really challenge ourselves on our ways of working, and do we need to fit to the same mould that we've always fit to? Could there be an easier way that we structure some of our roles to make them more appealing for females coming into the industry? I mean, those are just a couple of things that we are doing, and I think organisations just need to challenge themselves around what they are doing and are they really making themselves appealing to the female population?
Greer, while we are catching up, I've just seen a couple of questions come through the chat, specifically around ethnic diversity and whether you have had any specific targeted approach around getting women from diverse communities or whether there wasn't at the stage, that kind of specific focus.
Look, actually for us, within Fletcher Construction, we do have some aspirations in that area, and we have really tried to look at building, not just female about Māori and Pasifika particularly. But actually when we look at our broader range and then look at our graduate cohort and our intern cohorts, we are actually very diverse in terms of ethnicity. But we're starting to become more diverse in terms of who we brought in the last probably 12 months to 24 months, which is great.
And I think that's a really good thing. Those would probably be some of our big measures that we're really trying to balance out from Fletcher's perspective.
Great. Important points. Thank you Greer for that. Let's just also hope that women take up the challenge now with a 1.6 billion investment that government has done in trade and apprenticeship training, for them to really make their mark in this sector.Our last story today-
Thank you. Our last story today is from Citycare. Citycare received a highly commended award for their programme to build tomorrow's workforce. With their programme, let's have a look at the video first.
You cannot find the talent pipeline in Citycare and the infrastructure industry from traditional recruitment methodologies. We want to engage with more community groups. We want to make sure more clients know about the work that we can do, and we want to make sure that we have tapped into the full diversity of the talent pipeline available.
We've got about 40% of our staff are Māori and Pasifika, and we have a really diverse age range.
So we've got ages ranging from age 19 to 73.
We've just started a new programme with Auckland Council called Two in a Ute, where we partner an experienced worker with an unemployed youth. We've got four of those groups on the road now working. It's been a fabulous success for us and we can actually deliver and care at the same time.
We also offer a lot of training. So we have a comprehensive induction programme for new starters. Here in Auckland Water, we've also got a lot of staff that are training and studying towards qualifications.
We've put through over 275 unemployed youth through our pre-apprentice programme. We've had some fabulous success with them. Over two thirds of those people have actually stayed with us and gone on to apprenticeships or other roles.
It's all about the people, we are trying to make a better tomorrow and there's nothing more rewarding and going up delivering services to the cities that I grew up in, and here I am seeing the before and seeing the after. You actually take a step back and you think, "Wow, I was a part of that." And it does, it gets you right here. So I love my job. I love the people I work with. I couldn't imagine doing anything else. I'm blessed, I'm so lucky.
And there's pride in their work. There's pride in their contribution to their community. And thankfully there's pride in working for Citycare, and we are really proud of our workforce as well.
And joining us today from Citycare Rachel Moore. Welcome, lucky last in our programme. Rachel, lovely to see you. Rachel, I'm particularly excited about this programme to see this, the specific yeah, because one of the big messages of 2020 is that unsung work is essential work. So tell me, why is it not possible to find the talent pipeline in infrastructure through the traditional recruitment methodologies? And what was the Citycare response in addressing this problem? Rachel? Let's see if we can get you. Can you hear me, Rachel? Stand by, we are going to try and get Rachel back.
In the meantime, while we are waiting for Rachel... I think in the technical backend, they're going to try and get her back. I am going to cross back to our other participants today and just ask a few more questions. If I could go back, I think Josie, to you and just asking, when we look at inclusion of people across gender and ethnicity spectrum, it's important to recognise the different needs for different people. So it's not about forcing individuals to fit into a world in the workplace where they don't fit. It is about really creating a place where they feel that they belong. So how do you go about to find out what employment practises would work across your diverse workforce? Is not necessarily only from a gender perspective.
Oh, to be honest, it's a little bit of trial and error and actually asking people a lot of questions. You are right, we've got people from all sorts of backgrounds and one of the key things for us is actually retaining those people. So I've been in this organisation for quite a number of years and we've spent a lot of time talking to people, getting feedback on some of the things we're doing and what's not working for them. And so I think it's that, and as we'd showed with the shared care policy, which we developed and then tested it, with the people using it over a period of time, we find out what's not working in people's lives through conversations with line managers and so forth and feeding that back and through our people team to work out what could we do to make things better for people, because you're right it is different for everybody.
And so what we've found is that everybody has different requirements and wants to be doing different things. And also, not everyone has children obviously, some people are looking after aged people at home, some people are sports and athletes and want to be working at different hours. So that was one of the reasons why we developed our Yes Flex policy, which is really about making work fit the hours for people that suited their lives. And actually everyone is on board with that. Everyone takes it on and we've shown, even the leaders, which I think is one of the critical things when you develop these policies is actually the leadership that it's okay to do this, you don't have to work your 9:00 to 5:00, or 8:00 to 5:00, or 8:00 to 6:00 job or whatever it is. So like I said, it's about the conversations that you have with the people, and testing things as you're going.
I mean, on the surface of it, it's actually really quite simple, talk to your people, find out what it is that they need that would make them operate quite productively, and that's a silver bullet. And just put your employment practises around that, as opposed to expecting that everybody would fit into your existing employment practise. It's about ethnicity, having that.
Yep, absolutely. And I think the other thing in there is that actually not all organisations can afford things like our shared care policy, which is obviously a bit of a financial burden for some organisations. So I think in some cases actually the ability to look at things and it's not necessarily about the financial reward, but in this case, it was about how do we make the work that you do better to suit your lives, and so that flexible work is something that a lot of organisations would be able to do, I think.
Yeah. And not necessarily costing a lot.
Thank you for that. And it looks like we might have Rachel back, so shall we see if we can cross back to Rachel?
Can you hear me now?
Rachel, are you with us? Oh, I can hear you. Lovely to have you back. So I think that where I recall, where we ended is that I was just mentioning that I really felt very excited about this programme in this year of 2020 because of the essential nature of the work and the infrastructure that you are doing. So the question was around the pipeline and why it's difficult to find the talent pipeline through traditional recruitment and what your response was to addressing that problem.
Thank you so much. My apologies for the sound issues before. As I've tried to say before, the work we do is not sexy work, we mow parks, we clean toilets, we clean drains, etc and we operate nationwide and in small towns and the traditional spray and pray approach was just not going to work and we needed to expand our talent pipeline. And we wanted to tap into the diversity of our community, and so we decided... So we could attract talent in a much broader approach. So we adopted a key strategy around that, which was engage, educate, and attract.
And the engagement was very much focused on the communities, the five local communities, and all those communities across New Zealand that we work in. And once we've done that, we then partnered with organisations like the Student Volunteer Army to educate at a primary school level.
We went and then we talked about... And partners, and we talked about volunteering in your community. And it has also promoted the work that we do through a big project of work down there for about 30,000 primary school students across New Zealand. And then we also educated our own people, and that was through career pathways, through competency framework, so apprenticeships. And about attracting tomorrow's workforce was very much about working with our partners, like MSD, The Southern Initiative and Auckland Council and just broadly across the New Zealand landscape, to be able to attract, and then community engagement, doing our volunteer days across the country to attract that talent.
And that community engagement is incredibly important to the work that you're doing. But why is it important for you to be so close to those local communities that you are operating in?
Oh, absolutely. Great question. Localism, it's at the heart of our talent strategy and not only does it help us meet our clients and customers' expectations, but when you employ locally, we attract people that not only work in the community, but they also live there, take a lot of pride in the work that they do, because they live in there and they work and they play and their families are involved in there. So they really take pride, and it seems so simple, but it was so important for us to be able to attract people and they love working for Citycare. They are proud to work for Citycare, that's resonated throughout the video.
And then I'm really interested also to hear more about that Two in a Ute programme. So specifically because of the intergenerational learnings that you're about to realise through that initiative, can you perhaps share some of those insights on how this programme might have helped to foster that appreciation across the generational boundaries?
It's an absolutely fabulous initiative we have with Auckland Council around Two in a Ute. As the video stated, we have a wide range of ages across not only Citycare, but I think it's across the industry. And so what that programme does is it partners a young person with an older person and allows them to match or us to match the energy versus enthusiasm with knowledge, the brain sort of versus the brawn, and for them to be able to transfer the skills that they have learned over those years working in the industry or working for Citycare. We started with four groups, with Auckland Council, they've absolutely asked us to expand that programme. We already have the talent pipeline underway. We've got young people doing apprenticeships now, and that was the key focus, was education and training, passing on knowledge. And it gives a young person that's unemployed, the potential to have a career pathway and a sustainable career pathway.
And touching quickly on we care, which is one of your core values and recognising your strategy. Can you tell us how that value is integrated into everything you do across the company?
It's in our strategic plan as hashtagged, and all our communications that we do, we survey diversity and inclusion and we care across our businesses, and we lived, we care through COVID, we're very mindful that we wanted to make sure our staff were well looked after and they knew that we cared and we were understanding the challenges they were facing during that period. We engaged with our clients and communities, used to sit around volunteer days, town clean centre days, working with schools and volunteering to assist them in the work that they are trying to do. We care about our people, we care about our community. It's so important to us, for us to be able to tap into that diversity pipeline.
Great. Fantastic work Rachel. Thank you very much for sharing. I'm so glad we could get you back.
So just doing a quick time check, we've got about eight to 10 minutes for a few questions. If you have some questions, please do pop them in the chat box and we can get the rest of our panellists back. I'm not sure whether we can get all of them back or... Yep, we can. That's lovely. So to start off the panel conversation, I think and that I would ask across all four of you who shared with us today, if you had a magic wand, in terms of diversity in the construction sector, the one thing that you think that we'd need to get right to make sure that the construction sector is really future-proof, in terms of its talent pipeline. What is that one thing that you think organisations need to get right? Greer can I pick on you to go fast? Greer, I'm not sure if you can hear me, we've lost you. We've lost you. I think you're either on mute or we lost your sound.
Can you hear me now?
There we go. Excellent. Shall we try again?
Awesome. Great. I think that one of the things is we have great initiatives that we put into play. One of the things that always comes back to is the support and the buy-in from the business. We've got some mindsets to change, and that's probably the biggest thing and getting our existing people on board with it, whether that be around males, females, whether it's diversity, whether it's age. It's really getting our people to understand the benefits of diversity and a more inclusive workforce, and that's time that takes a bit of time to make that change.
And your sense Rachel, in terms of magic wand for future?
I agree with Greer's statements, and I'm a huge advocate for ensuring that all organisations give everybody an opportunity. You don't know what you're missing out on, do you? Unless you open yourself up to all walks of life and all ages of people. Young people have so much to bring to our industry and we need to be open that they all need to be trained, they all need to learn how to work, and that's really important. So opportunity is really key for me.
Josie, same question to you. What would you say is that one big thing that we need to get right?
I think the key thing I would say is the wraparound support and for the retention of people coming from different backgrounds. I'm in a professional services firm and so really giving people the opportunity... We sort of bring people in, but actually sometimes the people around them are very different and so actually helping to retain them through that wraparound support, I think is one of the key things that we can do.
Great. And then Lesley, I know that I touched earlier on neurodiversity, I would like to have, before we go into the magic and the silver bullet, from your perspective, diversity and inclusion, one of the big themes that are starting to emerge in that is the whole aspect of neurodiversity and how we work with that, as a dimension that should not be stigmatised at all in our workplaces. And in your literacy and numeracy programme that you've run, how have you dealt with neurodiversity in the workforce?
Look, I think it became really apparent early on that this neurodiversity, this dyslexia was a big problem in the sector and particularly in the older workforce. In the old workforce, we had quite a reasonable uptake and tunes in Safer People Communication course. So we built into that tips and tricks and stuff for them to be able to decode what they were reading and what they were using. But I think we need to acknowledge that it is a problem for the older workforce in particular, but also for the young.
And that we need to build into our whole recruitment process and our whole wraparound services that we provide and support that we provide to our people, that this is a barrier to ongoing training to inclusion, to diversity, and that these people feel on the outside the same as perhaps some ethnicities do or some different genders might feel on the outside of the organisation. So wrapping some support around that, acknowledging it, and really being able to show that they can learn and that giving them the tools to learn, and they will just thrive. And we've seen that within a year or so that we've been doing this course.
That's a theme that's coming through all along, is that wraparound support, that understanding of people, that ability to respond to what it is that they need. Question then is that, in a sector where we've got so many small businesses, the three to five to 10 employees businesses, is it possible to give that level of wraparound support to everybody? Question to anybody who is keen to try and answer that, how difficult is it for the small business in construction to get to that level of wraparound support?
I think it is really hard for the small business to do that. And I think there needs to be more organisations outside, or perhaps construction that promote themselves to be able to provide that support, whether it be through government organisations and likes of The Southern Initiative that provide a lot of support around that. Some of the skills hubs as well provide support. And I think it's an awareness thing for the smaller organisations as well.
True. And then, a question around some of the surprises in all of the various programmes that you have implemented. In your initiatives, what's the one thing that surprised you, that you didn't quite expect that might come out of that programme. And I think that that is probably going to be close to our last question, and if I can do a run around our panel, before we cross back to Judy to close off for us, what's the one surprise and the one big message that you would want to leave our audience with today? Josie, going to start with you. Thank you.
I think the biggest thing is that we were surprised by the number of men that actually took this up. I mean, that's not a surprise, men obviously wanted to spend time with their babies when they were born as well. And so really, yeah, the number of people that took it up, 50% of men was really, really incredible. I guess the other thing is, the message is, listen to your people and create those supports and policies around what it is that they need.
Fabulous. Thank you. Greer?
I think the biggest thing for us with GirlBoss and being part of that programme was the genuine excitement that a lot of young women have around our industry, once they understand what it's all about. And the benefit for them to be able to go out on site or behind the scenes of a Waterview Tunnel, or down at the America's Cup Village or some of our really cool projects and actually really understand what construction is all about. And just, really energy that they have for being part of that, because of the exposure. So the more that we can do as an industry to sort of open our arms and welcome them in and give them a bit of education about what it's all about, I think the more we can do to attract young women into our industry.
Great. Thank you. Lesley?
I think our biggest surprise was that... Although I think we knew it anecdotally, the big surprise was when we got the older people above 50, 55, even 60 year olds onto the course, the resistance was really strong, but then they had this epiphany that they could actually do it. And as an example, we had a 62 year old woman who said that she did not need the ruler to learn how to measure and because she couldn't use that, and then after 30 minutes, she wouldn't give the ruler back. And so she took it home so that she could show her grandkids and whatnot how to measure and stuff.
So I think for us it was that excitement that the older people on the course got, when they suddenly clicked and that it was okay and that they could learn and that they had skills and it was just about recognising those skills. So I think that was the big win for us in lots of ways. There was lots in the younger people as well, but in terms of the older people, I think we didn't realise how much of an impact that would have and change their lives, not just at work, but at home as well.
Fabulous. And Rachel -
I think one of the biggest surprises, there were so many people within our organisation that wanted to be absolutely along with us on this journey to have tomorrow's workforce and engage in our community and bring young people into our business, so they could teach them what they knew. So we probably didn't realise how big a thing that was for our staff, and we probably underestimated that. So yeah, it was a really good outcome for us.
Great. Thank you very much for that. And so we've come to the end of a fast and furious hour, our feature in really exciting work in diversity and inclusion in the construction sector. Josie from Aurecon, Greer from Fletcher, Lesley from HEB Construction, Rachel from Citycare, thank you very, very much for sharing your stories today. Thank you for being the inspiring people that you are, and I hope that everybody else feels inspired by having listened to your stories. And looking across these four programmes, I really do have hope that we can do this. Yes, there is still a lot of work to be done, but we know why we need to do it, then we know what good looks like. So now it's just for rolling up the sleeves, getting stuck in. And with that, it is 3:59, and that is all that we are having time for today. So crisscrossing back to you Judy, for the final words and for closing the session.
Thanks for joining us. And thanks, especially to Maretha, Greer, Rachel, Lesley and Josie, for sharing your amazing stories with us today. These stories of success are just the start of a bigger conversation our sector needs to have and continue having to build sustained change for a more diverse and inclusive workforce. We need to work together to shift and change your attitudes and behaviours that we still come across in the sector today. We all have a role to play to embrace inclusion, diversity, equity, across the sector. The Construction Sector Accord plans to create new ways of encouraging diversity in construction, by educating industry, educating more young people and also educating our understanding and thought leadership across the sector.
We look forward to sharing our plans with you. I would also like to invite you to our final webinar for the year, Lessons and Reflections from 2020, it's going to be on Wednesday the 9th of December from 3:00 to 4:00 PM. You'll hear from industry leaders from the Construction Sector Accord, where we'll talk about the issues in the sector, the impact of COVID-19 and the future of construction and share on some of the lessons learned this year. The webinar includes a panel discussion as well as Q and A's, and we'll send out some more detail to you soon. So thanks again for joining us. If you want to learn more about the Accord programme, come along to our website. Thank you, kia pai tō wiki.
The final webinar for the year will be held on Wednesday, 9 December from 3-4pm and will discuss lessons learnt and reflections from 2020. Industry leaders from the Construction Sector Accord will talk about issues in the sector, the impact of COVID-19, the future of the construction sector, and share lessons learnt.