Role models enhance equality in the construction industry
The construction industry is sometimes referred to as being a male-oriented industry. BoKlok Finland is a good example of the opposite where about half of the employees are women. One of them is Country Manager Kati Valtonen. She gives her view of the importance of female role models and encourages more women to apply for jobs in the industry.
Construction, interior spaces and the designing of them has been in Kati’s life ever since she was a child. She used to draw apartment bases on grid paper and often followed her dad around helping others with renovation projects. Also, during wintertime, playtime with her friends could very well mean building “houses” outdoors complete with sofas and tables – all made of snow.
Later on, at the end of the 1990s, Kati followed her interests and began working in the construction industry. At that time there were still few women working in the industry. Since then, times have changed, but Kati is still often the only woman in meetings. Despite this, she hasn’t felt she has been treated differently.
- But even if I don’t feel like I’m being treated differently, that doesn’t mean someone else won’t feel that way. That is why it’s important equality issues are raised. Our recruitments also show that there are still not as many women as men applying for construction site jobs. By being a role model, I think I can encourage women to become more interested in the construction industry.
At BoKlok, she is not the only woman in her position, nor is she the first female Country Manager in BoKlok Finland. Currently BoKlok Finland consists of twenty employees, where about half of them are women.
- To be honest, it’s sometimes challenging to remember that even today it’s difficult for women to get promoted in the construction industry. On the other hand, I also want to think about diversity more broadly than as a gender issue. The more different people we have at work, the more fun it is – your own way of thinking expands, and new and more creative ideas emerge. It’s also easier to find solutions to different challenges. With a diverse team, we can better understand and serve our diverse customer segments.
Kati reminds us that it’s important that women act as role models and talk about the possibilities for women whenever possible. She remembers when she once attended a primary school event where she spoke about her work in the construction industry. When showing a picture of the BoKlok team at the time – three women and one man sitting on a couch, she strongly recalls the girls’ reaction:
- It was a heart-melting moment, because the girls were amazed that there was only one man in the picture.
To Kati, this is one example of how female role models can make a difference.
- This industry is generally considered conservative. But the world is changing and it’s our job as role models to show that the construction industry is applying the change.