Unpacking barriers for women in construction: cidb promotes sector transformation
Ahead of the 2021 Empowerment and Recognition of Women in Construction (ERWIC) Awards, the Construction Industry Development Board (cidb) held a webinar on 6 July which unpacked the challenges facing women in the construction industry. Stakeholders across the industry joined online to unpack barriers to success, and discuss how best to minimise these barriers in support of industry transformation.
The webinar commenced with an official welcome by Moderator for the event Nombulelo Manyana, Editor of ReSource Magazine and Journalist at Infrastructure News, followed by a powerful Setting the Scene opening by Sakhile Mkwanazi, Business Coach at GROW. Mkwanazi kicked off the event with an explanation of the current business landscape in South Africa. “In our country, we are well equipped to advance our female entrepreneurs, yet we lag behind some other African countries with just 19% of our entrepreneurs being women.” He said that prominent barriers faced by women include high levels of domestic responsibilities and lower levels of education, exacerbated by a lack of female role models and mentors. “Our women are lacking the resources they need to progress, yes we expect them to get ahead. We need to work to lower these barriers,” he said.
Following this, Kile Mteto – cidb Steering Committee member and MD of Ntando-Thando Consulting & Projects – unpacked the progress of women into the construction industry. “If you look at cidb-registered companies, just 30% are women-owned and are awarded just 23% of public sector projects. Are we making inroads into construction? Yes, slowly, but what about the quality of our work? When we can deliver quality projects, growth and sustainability will follow.” She listed some inhibitors of success as historic inequality, legislative hurdles, and the incapacity of regulatory bodies to enforce transformation frameworks. She recommended that deliberate support programmes and improved management from government and regulators would go a long way towards enabling women in construction.
One of the ERWIC Award judges and CEO of Kopano Creative Concepts, Melita Mohlala guided attendees through the elements of an award-winning project. She listed critical elements for success including creativity, innovation, quality workmanship, and presentation of the finished project. “You are only as good as your most recent project,” she said. She also encouraged a focus on projects which have a positive social, developmental and economic impact, while also being legislatively compliant.
Thobekile Ndlovu, MD of Thobethulani Trading, then imparted her views on the topic. Thobethulani Trading won the ERWIC Award for Project Excellence of the Year 2020 Grade 7. Ndlovu shared what it takes to make it in the construction industry and her fundamentals for success in the industry, which she said requires expert project management, time management, financial management, quality control, stakeholder management and conflict management. “If you enter the construction industry, come prepared to grow the industry and empower others wherever you can.”
The final presenter from the webinar was Phindile Cindy, CEO of PCA Trading and Projects and winner of Project Excellence of the Year, Grade 1 in the 2020 ERWIC awards. She presented on her business, what has made it a success, and the challenges facing women in construction. “In addition to being outnumbered, women who work in construction are walking into a world that has long been tailored to men’s needs. The most challenging part of working in the construction industry as a woman is earning the same respect men get for doing the same thing.” She added that, unfortunately, she even sees women undermining each other.
In a closing panel discussion amongst presenters, it was agreed that women need to support each other, and that empowerment of women-owned business cannot happen without the contribution and collaboration of all women in the sector. It was also agreed that business and financial skills development, as well as mentorship, can assist with the empowerment of women in construction.