Building more than structures: Empowering women through inclusive leadership

Cise Kilic | 8 March 2024

In honour of International Women’s Day and Women in Construction Week, we took the time to refocus the conversation on fostering inclusive leadership with a lens on the construction sector. Lubna Haq previously outlined in our Good Leadership series, inclusive leaders excel at building teams where every voice is heard, embracing diverse perspectives, and championing their people. Here, Cise Kilic highlights the value of inclusivity specifically within construction.


A snapshot of women in construction

The construction industry is at a crossroads when it comes to inclusion, particularly for women. It has often been viewed as a sector early on in its DEI journey with a ongoing focus on gender equality as part of this journey. However, surveys continue to paint a concerning picture: women are underrepresented, continue to experience inappropriate behaviour, and female leadership remains uncommon.

Many organisations have ambitious DEI goals, especially regarding gender equality. But how do leaders keep this a priority amidst competing demands, especially during volatile times? While short-term pressures might tempt them to deprioritise these efforts, companies that invest in future talent strategies during challenging times reap significant rewards later.. Research suggests those businesses who take a progressive approach, getting the balance right between defensive and offensive strategies are often the ones who significantly outperform their rivals (by 10% or more). With this in mind, consider what your business has learnt from times of economic instability in relation to your talent strategy – could inclusive leadership have helped here?.

A starting point: unveiling the barriers

As we often discuss with our clients, the path to inclusive leadership begins with self-awareness. As a leader, what are your personal “blockers” that hinder open communication within your teams? Is it time constraints, a lack of understanding of the benefits, the fear of missteps or other factors perhaps?

Unlocking Inclusion: Embracing individual differences

This self-reflection unlocks the key to tackling inclusion barriers within your organisation. Remember, these barriers will vary for each team member. Instead of viewing it as extra work, consider this an opportunity to enhance your existing one-on-one meetings. Add an agenda item specifically focused on gathering their insights on what they need from you as a leader. Building trust takes consistent effort. Make these discussions a regular feature, even if it’s a simple, genuine “how are you really doing?” This isn’t just about checking in; it’s about gathering a wealth of information. These insights into individual needs and challenges provide valuable data that not only fosters trust and supports inclusion, but also empowers you to address performance roadblocks impacting their careers and ultimately, your organisation’s success. In addition to this, external consultants can partner with you to provide deeper dive people insights and support you in your journey to building psychological safety in your teams.

The journey to an inclusive construction industry starts with you, the leader. By prioritising open communication and fostering trust, you become a catalyst for change. This creates a ripple effect throughout your teams, normalising inclusive leadership across the organisation.

So, on this International Women’s Day and Women in Construction Week, let’s celebrate the women who are already contributing to building a more inclusive construction industry. Together, through inclusive leadership, we can empower them to build not just structures, but a future where all voices are heard and valued.


Discover more about how you can assess your leadership diversity, or if you’d like to speak to one of our consultants, please contact us.

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