Women in Housebuilding and Shift Public Perception

Women in Housebuilding and Shift Public Perception

To coincide with International Women’s Day, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for SME Housebuilders has launched a new campaign designed to increase the number of women in the housebuilding industry – ‘I am a Housebuilder’.

The APPG for SME Housebuilders is a cross-party forum building political consensus to create the best environment for regional SME housebuilders to thrive, and to encourage new entrants to gain a foothold in the sector.

The background
In 2008 there were over 11,000 SME housebuilders and today, post the Global Economic Crisis, there are believed to be no more than 2,000, of which less than 2% are owned and led by women[1]. Currently, there are also only 297,000 women working in construction across the UK, compared to 1.8 million men[2], with just 1% of women working as a skilled trades professional[3].

The housebuilding industry has an image problem. As an historically male dominated sector, housebuilding has not been viewed by women as an attractive profession, and more recently, the CMA investigation into alleged market fixing and cartel-type behaviour by the UK’s largest housebuilders, has dented the reputation of the sector, which plays a vital role in the British economy. SMEs in particular provide a wealth of benefits to the regional economies where they operate, such as prioritising local supply chains and employing local apprentices, which further highlights the need to shift public perception and bring balance and diversity to the sector.

Part of the solution: I am a Housebuilder
In response, the APPG for SME Housebuilders has launched a new initiative designed to attract more women into the housebuilding sector. The initiative is being driven by the APPG’s new secretariat, Edwin de Silva, an industry veteran and Co-Chair for the Regional Builders Hub Steering Group in support of The King’s Foundation and Chair of the APPG, Andrew Lewer MBE, Member of Parliament Northampton South.

The campaign is being led by seven of the foremost female SME housebuilding founders and Managing Directors, dubbed the Magnificent Seven Housebuilders. These women are all leading highly successful development businesses and they are committed to mentoring and supporting more women to become SME housebuilders. They include Sarah Barraclough, Managing Director, Skipton Properties, Rosey Cassidy, Director, Newman Rose, Charlotte Edwards, Managing Director, Dennis Edwards Homes, Sophie Horgan, Director, Horgan Homes, Georgina Hammond, Co-Founder and Director, Beau Property, Alice Maughan, Creative Director and Designer, Stronghold Homes and Xuan Meng, Founder and Director, Cosy Hauz. (Full biographies below).

The I am a Housebuilder campaign will focus on the below three pledges, which will be rolled out throughout 2024 and will culminate in an industry networking event in Parliament, to bring politicians, partners, allies and female housebuilders together.

The pledges:

  • Increase visibility of successful women within the sector to attract more women to apply for roles.
  • Create a senior mentoring network to help women into leadership positions.
  • Work in partnership with trade bodies and organisations to positively promote the sector to women of all ages, when recruiting from apprenticeship to the board room.

Andrew Lewer, Chair of the APPG, behind the new initiative, comments: “We need to reshape the public perception of the housebuilding industry. The antiquated view held by some is harming the future growth of the industry – preventing us from seeing diversity, causing a skills shortage and depriving the industry from accessing a pool of incredible talent. We want to put an end to this once and for all. It’s time for the industry and the legislature to work together to reverse the decline of SME housebuilders and encourage more women into the sector. By increasing diversity, we will open this great industry to more innovation and growth, which will be a major step towards rebalancing the housebuilding sector as a whole.”

Sarah Barraclough, Managing Director, Skipton Properties: “I believe that women bring a unique perspective to the table, often characterised by empathy, intuition, and a keen eye for detail—all invaluable traits in an industry where human connection and attention to minutiae can make all the difference.”

Georgina Hammond, Co-Founder and Director, Beau Property: “As a mother to a young girl I think it is really important to show to her and many other young girls and women that housebuilding is no longer an industry just for men. Women bring a level of creativity and empathy to housebuilding that I think really benefits the end homeowner. I am excited to use this initiative to help highlight a path into this industry for other females.”

Xuan Meng, Founder and Director, Cosy Hauz, comments: “As the only first-generation housebuilder in this group, I really want to encourage more young, ambitious women who do not have a family background in construction, to enter this incredible industry. I want to share with them, what drives me – a strong commitment to delivering excellence within the property sector and a deep passion for personal and professional growth. I want to create a sustainable future, not just for myself and my family, but also for my company; which is now a diverse organisation of 24 individuals, spanning three geographical locations and nationalities, of which over 50% are female and many are working mothers – I take great pride in that.”

Alice Maughan, Creative Director and Designer, Stronghold Homes, says “Running a SME business as a couple with a young family can be challenging. However, it also enables us to manage our availability to both support our children and our business. Doing so has provided great opportunities for me to learn and grow in ways I never imagined possible. Although it is a male-dominant industry, I have found a place, whilst still fulfilling my duties as a parent.”

The Magnificent Seven Housebuilders will be appearing on the Regional & Bespoke (R&B) Developers Forum on the 19th March at 3.30pm.

For those looking to get involved in the campaign or attend the Regional & Bespoke (R&B) Developers Forum please contact: Secretariat@APPGSMEHousebuilders.org or visit: www.appgsmehousebuilders.org

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