Having spent the past year as Chairman of Women in Property’s (WiP) South West branch, Natasha Cottell, Business Development Manager at Wates Construction, reflects on a successful year in which the region’s WiP membership has grown by 27%.
I have been a member of Women in Property for five years and have seen first hand the incredible changes it is enabling in the industry. The growing WiP network is taking on so many important issues, from industry equality, to diversity and fairer representation for women in the industry and I feel so honoured to have spent the last year leading this movement in the South West.”
Natasha became Women in Property South West Chairman on 1 March 2016 and brought to the role a keen passion to encourage employers to recruit and invest in a diverse workforce.
Gender equality in the built environment is now higher on the agenda than ever before. Recent figures published by Randstad Recruitment* reported that women are predicted to make up 26% of the construction workforce by 2020, with women now taking up 16% of senior management positions in the industry. This is a remarkable indicator of progress and I truly believe that WiP’s 30-year history has played a fundamental role in this change.
“The past 12 months have flown by but they have brought with them some amazing moments for WiP South West. In December we held a WiP Christmas Zoo event, which was attended by over 120 industry professionals and was a great celebration of the year’s achievements. We have held WiP roadshows, launched the Solent and Wiltshire and Swindon sub-committees as well as working with peer networks including the Forum for the Built Environment (FBE) and the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) to raise awareness of key industry issues and share best practice.
“Inspiring and encouraging young people into the property sector also forms a big part of what WiP does. Throughout the year we’ve had the chance to engage with and mentor students across the South West, including students in the Built Environment from the region’s universities. This also includes a student awards initiative, through which we are able to directly support the industry’s future workforce and this has been so powerful.
“When I look back over the past year I feel so proud of what we have achieved in the South West branch. Our regional membership has jumped from 145 to 189, with increasing numbers of our industry colleagues attending our events and all of this ultimately helps us to affect cultural change in the industry.
“My involvement is these initiatives would not have been possible without the help and support of Wates. I see my advocacy for women in construction as a huge part of my job, so working for a business that treats industry equality and diversity as significantly as Wates does is invaluable.
“Equality and diversity is ever-evolving and I am extremely keen to continue my work with Women in Property, my industry peers and colleagues to ensure that we achieve Randstad’s predictions for women in the construction industry. I’m particularly eager to spend more time with universities to help raise awareness of the industry and its diverse mix of opportunities. Education is undoubtedly a continual process but the passion for equality that I see amongst my colleagues makes me very hopeful for the future.”
Natasha Cottell now hands over her responsibilities to incoming Women in Property South West Chair, Rachel Bell from Stride Treglown architects. Women in Property currently has over 900 members nationally.
For more information please visit http://www.womeninproperty.org.uk/
*The Level Playing Field, UK Working Women and Pay Rises, 2016