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House building is traditionally a male-dominated sector but here at Countryside, we have more female employees than ever. To mark International Women’s Day today, here we highlight the growing role that women play in the industry.

Celebrating women in the housebuilding industry - by Guy Lambert

Around 30% of our employees are female, up from just under a quarter this time last year, compared to an industry average of 20%. What is more, over a third of our Board of Directors are women, including Group Chief Financial Officer, Rebecca Worthington. This exceeds new targets set in the recent gender equality report by Mervyn Davies for FTSE 100 firms to have 33% female board members by 2020.

Michelle Shani is Health and Safety Director at Countryside where she leads a department of 14 people and reports to the Board on health and safety matters across the business. When she joined Countryside 17 years ago as Personal Assistant to the Construction Director, she had no previous experience of the industry and has worked her way up. She believes construction is a vibrant and versatile industry that has a lot to offer young women considering their career direction: “Countryside has invested in me and given me the chance to develop, but there are many different routes and opportunities open to women interested in a career in house building, depending whether they start as an apprentice, graduate or trainee. A woman on a building site is not the rarity it was fifteen years ago.”

Katherina Faulkner is Community Development Liaison Officer across several of Countryside’s large regeneration schemes in Greater London. She had always worked in customer service, previously in the retail sector, and was able to bring these skills into her work liaising with residents. She believes that in her job being a woman can sometimes work in her favour: “In some situations women take a different approach and can get a better response. Women can come across more sympathetically and are often better at listening which helps when liaising with residents.”

Jo Clark works as Associate Planning Director on some of Countryside’s large strategic sites such as Great Kneighton in Cambridge and Beaulieu in Chelmsford. She has been with the company for 12 years. She came into the industry following a planning degree and does not feel women are treated any differently from men: “In the planning teams, there is a good split between men and women. Indeed there are women represented at all levels at Countryside and it does make a difference having senior female role models at board and director level within the company, especially in the eyes of younger members of staff who are starting out in their careers.”

Isla Longmuir is a Planning Manager in the Land Department who joined Countryside six months ago after working as a planning consultant. She chose this career path after a Masters in Planning but entered the job market during the recession: “When I graduated, jobs in the industry were limited due to the pressures of the recession, however I have never felt that gender has been an issue as I have progressed through my career. At Countryside women are well represented at every level of the business. There now more job opportunities at large throughout the industry and it certainly feels as though there are more women coming through.”

Graham Cherry, Chief Executive of New Homes and Communities at Countryside, comments: “Our people are our most valuable asset and we are proud to have such a talented and diverse team working for Countryside. As the demand for new homes increases, so too does the demand for the best employees to work in the sector and it is great to see more women coming forward to fill those roles. International Women’s Day is the perfect opportunity for us to celebrate the significant contribution our female employees make to our business.”

We have vacancies across our business in a wide range of roles – for our current vacancies please see here.

Image above l to r: Katherina Faulkner, Jo Clark, Michelle Shani and Isla Longmuir

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Guy Lambert,
Head of Corporate Communications



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About this blog

Here you’ll find property related blog articles from the team at Countryside as well as independent experts. Expect regular tips and advice on topics such as buying a new home, interior and landscape design, setting up home, mortgages and finance, plus articles on architecture, the property market, regeneration and more.

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