Hazel Davies: Breaking down the bias to build inspiring leadership in housebuilding

Hazel Davies: Breaking down the bias to build inspiring leadership in housebuilding

Hazel Davies

Ahead of International Women’s Day (8 March), Cruden director Hazel Davies discusses progress made in the sector and some of the strengths of women at work.

In the lead-up to International Women’s Day, it’s a good time to step back and reflect on the positive changes sweeping through traditionally male-dominated sectors, particularly in the housebuilding industry. Now, climbing to 15.8%, women make up a higher proportion of the construction workforce than at any time since official records began.

While there is still a long way to go, there’s no doubt that the landscape is evolving and we’re seeing a rise in women taking the helm, steering companies toward success. Inspiring leaders like Jane Wood, chief executive of Homes for Scotland and Gillian Ogilvie, managing director of engineering firm Will Rudd, are just some women at the top of their game, breaking barriers, questioning the status quo and reshaping our industry’s future.

Within the Cruden Group, we have been building homes since 1943 and pride ourselves on fostering a culture of inclusivity and diversity. It’s not about filling quotas or meeting diversity targets; it’s about genuinely recognising that women bring a unique and complementary skills set to the table, enhancing the fabric of our organisation.

And they certainly do. Across Cruden, women hold pivotal senior positions in a variety of what might once have been considered ‘male’ roles – in technical, commercial and pre-construction to name but a few. This diversity is a testament to our commitment to recognising that talent knows no gender boundaries.

As a mum of two girls, I am all for empowering women to believe they can be anything they want to be. This got me thinking about the standout qualities women bring to the workplace, and pretty close to the top of that list is creativity. Beyond the rigid (but important!) confines of numbers and KPIs, women often think laterally, see things from a different perspective and inject a creative flair that ensures new trends and innovations are incorporated. In an industry that moves at such a fast pace, this quality is invaluable to any business.

Hazel Davies: Breaking down the bias to build inspiring leadership in housebuilding

Hazel with her daughters

The housebuilding sector is a tight-knit community and sharing best practice, networking and building relationships is key. Whether it’s within the team, with clients,
partners or stakeholders, women often emerge as linchpins in fostering strong business relationships. Their ability to communicate, respect diverse opinions, and manage interactions with finesse is an important trait that contributes to the overall success of an organisation.

Women also tend to excel in navigating interpersonal dynamics, as they are usually adept at listening, are inherently intuitive, and considerate of others’ views and feelings. Relationships matter and this skill not only develops a healthy work environment, but is also instrumental in understanding the social cues so crucial to negotiations and customer engagement.

But it’s not just about being people-centric; women have multitasking in their DNA. Hands up anyone who’s typed an email, whilst taking a call, whilst loading the washing machine and making a packed lunch for the rest of the family? And all before 8am! Juggling work and personal life comes as second nature and that spills over into heightened productivity and focus at work.

This very focus underpins women’s solution-driven and team-oriented approach to getting the job done. Ego takes a back seat as ideas are shared, and successes celebrated collectively. I think this collaborative spirit is a major marker of success here at Cruden and key to a positive culture.

But above all, women are resilient. We have faced stereotypes and misconceptions, broken barriers, and emerged stronger on the other side. This resilience not only benefits individuals in leadership, but also serves as a driving force for positive change within any organisation.

It’s important we continue to recognise and celebrate the strides being made in the construction sector. Women are not just contributing; they are major players in leading and shaping the industry’s future. Personally, I’m proud to be a part of this transformative journey, embracing diversity, and proving that a successful career and a fulfilling personal life are not mutually exclusive.

And what of my girls aged 8 and 12? With wide-ranging (and frequently changing!) career aspirations from ‘café lady’ to ‘astronaut’, they might even follow in my footsteps and come into the sector themselves. In the meantime, at Cruden we continue to build on the great work being done in breaking down barriers and redefining norms, proving that success knows no gender as we #InspireInclusion.

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