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news and blogs

   
 

Browse through the latest news releases from RhysJones or click to view the news archive:

Increasingly news about our activities can be found on business and social networks and some other websites including Sandi's Constructive Women blog


Her idiosyncratic look on life can be viewed in her blog entitled Parallel Universe.


Rod's activities arranging lectures for the public as Chairman of Friends of Imperial College can be seen on the Friends of Imperial website.

News of the British Antarctic Monument Trust can be read on the Trust's website.


Sandi Rhys Jones wins First Woman Award

Read Sandi's Blog to get her latest opinions on constructive women

RhysJones Publishing launches ICONdirect.net

Weddings, Winners and Wonderful Results!

Sandi Rhys Jones at Raising the Ratio Conference

19th century engineers are 21st century heroes

I'm a small business - get me out of here!

Sandi Rhys Jones in talks to develop SET Resource Centre

Skills shortage for the short-sighted

Better work, equal pay

Sandi Rhys Jones speaks at King's College Conference

Change the Face of Construction exhibits in DiverseCity exhibition

RhysJones host Building Work for Women event

RhysJones on the move!

Fellowship for RhysJones director

RhysJones director speaks at mentoring launch

Imperial College debate chaired by RhysJones director

Equal Opportunities debate chaired by RhysJones director

RhysJones director in Radio 4 discussion


 
 
June 2008

Sandi Rhys Jones wins First Woman award

 
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Celebrations 

Sandi Rhys Jones was announced winner of the First Women award 2008 for the Property sector at a glittering event in London in June, attended by more than 500 businesswomen and VIPs including patron Prime Minister’s wife Sarah Brown and Director General of the CBI Richard Lambert. The awards, launched four years ago to celebrate the achievements of pioneering business women in Britain. are held by the CBI and Real Business magazine, in association with Lloyds TSB Corporate Markets. Other sponsors include Investec Private Bank, Tesco and Cadbury.

Judging the Property sector were Diana Brightmore-Armour of Lloyds TSB and Neil Sachdev of Sainsburys. They said that the overall calibre of nominees in the property category was particularly high – an outstanding collection of individuals and genuine role models.

They went on to say, "In an industry desperately short of female talent, Sandi is a shining example of just how far you can go. Her own achievements are outstanding. We counted at least seven ‘firsts’ throughout her career to date, across a range of aspects - commercial, community, education, professional – both domestically and internationally. But more importantly, she demonstrated a competence for pushing women forward in the sector through a wide variety of mentoring roles.

"A key quality was the nature of her advice – not blue-sky or hard-to-grasp – but practical, pragmatic, feet-on-the-ground guidance. You get a clear sense that she would use this award to help promote others rather than herself."

Presenting Sandi with her trophy was Baroness Boothroyd, the first female Speaker of the House of Commons. “I have some idea of what it’s like to compete in a man’s world,” she said. “We can do it, girls!”

Invited to give a few words in acceptance, Sandi picked up on these challenging words. “Why should we be housewives when we can be housebuilders? “Why should we go shopping when we can build whole department stores?”

To read more about the First Woman Awards please visit Caspian Publishing Website

 
July 2004

RhysJones Publishing launches ICONdirect.net
– for International Construction and Development

 
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Celebrations 

RhysJones Publishing has launched ICONdirect.net, a website for the international construction and development community. Numbers of registered users now total over one thousand, of which nearly 200 are industry experts with online profiles and nearly 400 are from consulting engineering firms.

The community also includes representatives of government departments, development organisations, academics and lawyers.

ICONdirect.net is a virtual marketplace for companies, experts and organisations working in international construction and development. Building on the database of consulting engineering firms on FIDICdirect, ICONdirect.net offers expanded services for more types of users.

These include a recruitment platform where experts can search for jobs posted by our companies, weekly news updates with the latest projects and news from around the world and facilities for posting and searching tenders online.

A printed directory of international construction and development companies will be published each year and distributed free to public and private sector owners.

RhysJones has published an international directory for over 20 years and it is a trusted and well-used resource online and in print. We are very happy to continue our service to the international construction and development community with ICONdirect.net - in print and on the web.

 
July 2004

Weddings, Winners and Wonderful Results!

 
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RICS conference 

It has been a month of celebration for RhysJones - in Helsinki, Henley and the Honour School of History at the University of Oxford.

ICONdirect.net editor Cheryl Rendell won Henley Women's Regatta in the Senior Eights event. Cheryl's crew, Vesta, beat international crews from Boston and Harvard amongst others to reach the final where they outclassed London rivals Mortlake by 1 and 1/4 lengths.

The victory was followed by a further triumph - a silver medal at the Great Britain National Rowing Championships. The crew rowed the 2K course in 6 minutes 54.86 seconds, missing the gold medal by only four tenths of a second in the closest race of the championship. Cheryl rowed in the stroke position in both races. These achievements crown an impressive season of wins including the Wallingford Regatta Coxless 4 and the Metropolitan Regatta Women's Eight. For pictures click here.

Champagne continued to flow in Helsinki as Rod and Sandi Rhys Jones celebrated the marriage of former RhysJones marketing executive Katja Sutinen. Katja, who worked at RhysJones from 2001 to 2003 married Mr Jonathan Key at a ceremony in the Old Church in the Finnish capital.They were also joined by another ex-staffer Mariko O'Neale now working for KPMG.

Katja is from Helsinki and met Jonathan, who hails from Gibraltar, at university in Edinburgh. After living together in London, they will begin their married lives in Australia. The international lifestyles of Katja and Jonathan were reflected at their wedding where they were toasted by guests from sixteen different countries.

And finally - finals results. ICONdirect's assistant editor Hannah Parham has been awarded a First Class Honours degree from the University of Oxford. She also received the Laura Quelch Prize for her dissertation. Hannah studied Modern History at Exeter College and has been a valued member of the team at RhysJones during her vacations.

Congratulations to Cheryl, Katja and Hannah!

 
July 2004

Sandi Rhys Jones at Raising the Ratio Conference

 
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Brunel TV programme 

Sandi Rhys Jones was one of four key speakers at the Raising the Ratio conference and workshop hosted by the RICS on 1 July, attended by more than 60 people at Great George Street in London. RICS past president Jonathan Harris chaired the event and former BBC Today presenter Sue MacGregor facilitated the workshops and debates.

The focus of the day was on the results of a survey undertaken by the RICS to establish the representation of qualified women in the workplace and to identify any tangible barriers that might be slowing career progression. The survey generated a 30% per cent response rate from the 11,000 questionnaires distributed to a cross section of men and women members of the RICS. Findings included views on career progression, salary ranges, management issues and opportunities for flexible working.

Sandi highlighted the paradox inherent in a sector that is struggling to recruit yet does not target fifty per cent of the population - women. She showed the imbalance of male to female ratios among chartered surveyors, and how they compare unfavourably to ratios in other professional sectors such as medicine, law and accountancy. Sandi also outlined the initiatives being undertaken by Simons Group to raise the ratio of women in surveying, project management and construction including mentoring, work-life balance initiatives and non-cognate training schemes. .

In the workshop sessions attendees identified and debated specific issues and proposed practical ways in which they might be resolved. These included: the need for guidelines/toolkits for firms; information on refresher courses for women returners; more visible role models and mentors; practical workshops for men and women to share experience and resources.

Whilst the focus of the day remained the ‘3 R’s’, that is, how to Recruit, Retain and generate Respect (and equal pay!) for women in the surveying profession, the overwhelming conclusion was that what is good for women is also good for men and flexible working hours and a work-life balance are the way forward.

See the Raising the Ratio website for further information about women in surveying.

 
Spring 2004

19th century engineers are 21st century heroes

 
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SET resource centre 

Rod Rhys Jones has contributed to the latest film about Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Brunel was recently voted Greatest Southerner by the audiences of BBC South Today and BBC local radio listeners. The film to be broadcast by BBC South during March will examine his relationship with his, almost as equally famous, father, Marc. It also sets out to look at the generally accepted view that he was a great engineer whose schemes never made any money. Rod takes the view that "the system was incapable of supporting someone who was so far ahead of his time."

The Brunels have had a great deal of adulation recently. They and the Stephensons were the subject of a three part series called "Men of Iron" broadcast by Channel 4 in February. Two years ago, Brunel came a close second to Sir Winston Churchill who was voted the Greatest Briton in a BBC television Series. His advocate was the presenter Jeremy Clarkson - better known for presenting programmes about cars. Clarkson championed the case for Brunel eloquently and with a more dignified persona than his usual flip, sarcastic and jokey style. Clarkson has developed this new persona and gone on to present "Inventions That Changed The World" on BBC 2 dealing with the gun, television, the jet, the computer and the telephone. There has been a plethora of engineering programmes recently, including one on large structures and another on why things fall down. Owen Rod, assistant producer of Touch Productions which made the Greatest Southerner programme, believes that engineering is seen as macho. Films that attract men in the mid evening are a necessary change-over from the feminised daytime scheduling. Jeremy Clarkson, known for his laddishness, is the perfect presenter to attract the all-important male viewers leading up to the nine o'clock watershed. Sport can do the same, but, says Owen, there is a limit to how much sport can be shown (although some viewers might not believe it).

Rod says, "There has been a surprising bout of engineering on television in the last three years. Ten years ago when I worked on "Bridges of Today" for Equinox there were none." Back then the engineering community were anxious to have better representation and to attract young people into the profession." Whether the current spate of programmes will encourage young people to take up an engineering career remains to be seen. The fall in the numbers studying mathematics at A’ level is not very encouraging.

 
Winter 2004

I'm a small business - get me out of here

 
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SET resource centre 

Sandi Rhys Jones presented at a debate, "I'm a small business - get me out of here", at the Institute of Civil Engineers (ICE) on Thursday 26th February 2004. The debate, supported by the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) and ICE, aimed to identify the benefits of employment legislation and the hurdles it imposes on small businesses.

Sandi addressed how small buinesses can realise the benefits of diversity and comply with employment regulations without adding heavily to the burden of administration.

Marianne Meinke, HR Manager of CIOB, presented on the beneifts of employment legislation, including recent changes to employment law.

Attendees were encouraged to contribute ideas and make recommedations which CIOB and ICE London can put forward to government.

To see Sandi's slides from the event, please click here.

 
Winter 2004

Sandi Rhys Jones in talks to develop SET Resource Centre

 
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Skills shortage 

Sandi Rhys Jones, director of RhysJones Consultants, is in discussions with JIVE Consortium about contributing to the development of the new UK Resource Centre for Women in Science, Engineering, Construction and Technology.

JIVE Consortium, based in Bradford, was awarded the funding to develop and run a national resource centre by the DTI in December and Sandi was involved in the bid. See Change the Face of Construction news item

Sandi hopes to utilise the wide range of experience she has gathered over a number of years, supporting women in engineering, construction and other non-traditional careers, to develop the structure and programme for the Resource Centre, as well as potentially providing a base in London for JIVE.

Sandi will also be participating in the Information Event for Women in SET careers on 26th February, highlighting the innovative mentoring scheme being developed with JIVE and the Simons Group, a construction company, of which she is a non-executive director. See Change the Face of Construction event item.

 
Winter 2004

Skills shortage for the short-sighted

 
Sandi in talks to develop new SET Resource Centre
Better work, equal pay 

"Women are a huge untapped resource" in the construction and engineering industry commented Julie Mellor, Chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission in a letter to the Financial Times, 4 February 2004. She was reacting to the Survey of Employers report published earlier in the week by the Learning and Skills Council, which highlighted shortages in the workforce.

Julie Mellor wondered why many of the sectors where the shortages are most acute have very few women workers. "Only one per cent of people working in construction and eight per cent of people in engineering, for example, are women," she said.

In fact of course the eight per cent women in the construction industry include secretarial, sales and catering staff - "tea ladies" in the trade. Only one per cent of the building and construction trades are women, but in the professions and management women make up 11.6% per cent of all employees. To compound this confusion the photograph published on the FT letter page showed a professional construction employee rather than one of the one per cent trades and crafts employees.

What is surprising is women's potential to solve the skills and productivity crisis is still not recognised by many employers. Julie Mellor quotes a KPMG survey of 200 senior construction managers that found that 68 per cent said they were not worried by the under-representation of women, despite the fact that 90 per cent regarded skills shortages as a serious problem.

She also commented that the situation is reversed in other sectors - only two per cent of childminders and one per cent of nursery nurses are men - this is also a sector where Britain desperately needs more skilled workers.

She says that last year the Equal Opportunities Commission launched an investigation into the causes of the stark segregation of the labour market and it will be making recommendations for a concerted plan of action. The EOC are inviting comments from members of the public about their career choices. Please see the No more jobs for the boys or jobs for the girls campaign.

 
Winter 2004

Better work, equal pay

 
skills shortage
Sandi Rhys Jones speaks at King's College Conference 

“Woman have not become involved in the more backstage aspects of the construction process because the whole industry has always been categorised as a man’s world,” Sandi Rhys Jones is quoted as saying in major article in Weekend Financial Times 10/11 January 2004, on the increasing role of women in the building and construction industry.

Change is taking place slowly but surely, particularly in the estate agency business where women are seen as particularly good negotiators, says the article’s author Faith Glasgow.

Seventy five per cent of the sales negotiators at London Estate Agent Douglas & Gordon are women and a 100 per cent of letting negotiators. “Women make excellent negotiators because they have a good people skills”, managing director Ivor Dickinson, is quoted as saying.

But other companies display a reluctance to move with the times. David Forbes of Chesterfields is quoted as saying “A top negotiator will have been selling for seven or 10 years, and many girls who have potential leave the business long before this.” Perhaps he should try recruiting women.

Nick Tomlinson, Managing Director of Knight Frank, sees things as changing slowly but appears rather proud that 35-40 per cent of the staff in ‘new development departments’ are women. There has never been a woman on the board. “I’d guess it is higher than the industry average,” he commented. Perhaps he is not aware of the proportion of women working at Douglas & Gordon or does not see them as comparable.

Women sell successfully, largely, comments Faith Glasgow, because they understand customers’ concerns so well. Marketing is the best route to the top and there are several women quoted, including Bridget Cordy of CDC2020, as achieving board appointments through that route.

It is much the same in the Big Apple, as Lauren Foster reports on the same page, except women have gone further and set up on their own agencies. In fact Ms Foster says that “Women dominate the city’s multi-billion-dollar residential real estate business”. Barbara Fox, owner and president of Fox Residential Group, a top of the range estate agent in New York specialising in residential property, is quoted as saying, “There were lots of glass ceilings for women in many businesses. I wanted something where no one could limit how much I could make.”

If it happens in New York it will be happening in London and sooner than you think. The hugely successful networking organisation Women in Property is a place for women to get started in the business side of development. If they are looking for careers in the professions then they need to find the firms where women are accepted on the board.

Where women are involved in building, they bring with them familiar and useful attributes: attention to detail and the capacity to finish tasks off properly, an ability to juggle several jobs at once, and communications skills. Sandi, who has been involved in training plasterers, joiners and carpenters says that currently there are waiting lists for their skills. Sadly there are waiting lists for some of the courses too.

It is interesting to reflect on a comment in the obituary of Bill de Vigier, the Swiss man who settled in London and invented the Acrow prop, reported in the Financial Times on Friday 16 January 2004. Not only did he have a flair for invention but also for marketing. He was looking for a name for his invention that could be used all over the world and would come high in any index. He modified the name of his solicitor Mr A Crow. He also had an eye on production. During the Second World War when he was making Mulberry Harbours for the Normandy landing and engine-bearing frames for Mosquito aircraft he introduced equal pay for women when he discovered that female welders made fewer mistakes than their male counterparts.

It would have been fairer perhaps if he had paid equally according to quality and speed.

The Equal Opportunities Commission is currently running a campaign “It’s time to get even”, which says, “The most common way of describing the gender pay gap is as a percentage difference between average hourly earnings of men and women working full-time. Using this definition, the gender pay gap in Great Britain is 18%”. Many industries, including the building and construction industry, harbour discrimination in pay through unequal pay systems. “Equal pay is not just about wages and salaries. Part of the complexity surrounding the issue arises out of the increasingly intricate ‘packages’ that employers offer some of their employees. These can include bonuses and overtime, performance related pay, enhanced pensions, health insurance, cars and training”. (taken from the Equal Pay Task Force report Just Pay).

With city companies seething with law suits for discrimination against women it will not be too long before the construction industry is forced to introduce real pay equality. Of course more women could follow the lead of the New Yorkers and start their own companies.

 
Autumn 2003

Sandi Rhys Jones speaks at King's College Conference

 
better work, equal pay
Change the Face of Construction</i> exhibits in DiverseCity exhibition 

The Centre for Construction Law and Management, King's College has chosen to address the issues of relationships between clients, consultants and contractors for its annual conference on 11th September. The seminar sets out to exlpore whether collaboration and partnerships are more effective in achieving project success than the niceties of contracts.

Diversity in the construction industry is not representative of the population as a whole and much of the conflict that occur between clients and the industry are caused by this misfit.

In a paper entitled "Builders from Mars, clients from Venus? Gender issues in partnerships and teambuilding" Sandi Rhys Jones looks at how recent innovation in the way teams are balanced can make large differences in the quality of delivery.
Martians: 91% of people in the construction industry are white, male and ageing, and only 3.4% of construction professionals and 1% of construction trades are female.
Venusians: More than half of all new businesses in the western world are owned by women, 80% of major purchasing decisions are made by women and 61 of the FTSE 100 have women directors.
Planet Earth: True partnerships and balanced teams are needed to communicate with and satisfy today's clients... and their customers too.

Sandi Rhys Jones is an alumnus of the Centre of Construction Law & Management at Kings College where her thesis was entitled "The influence of law, launguage and perception on conflict in the construction industry".

 
Autumn 2003

Change the Face of Construction exhibits in DiverseCity exhibition

 
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RhysJones hosts Building Work for Women event! 

The DiverseCity exhibition celebrates the work of of women and ethnic minority architects working in London. By showcasing the work of 30 architects, including Julia Barfield, Sarah Wigglesworth, Eva Jirinca and Elsie Owusu, it seeks to recognise the contribution they make to the cultural diversity and innovation present in our capital city.

Change the Face of Construction, driven by Sandi Rhys Jones and civil engineer, Helen Stone, has produced a display explaining the benefits of a diverse workforce for both employer and employee, and practical ways in which to build a balanced team.

The exhibition is being held at the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects), Gallery 1, 66 Portland Place, W1, from September 15 to October 4th. It is organised by Women in Architecture, the Society of Black Architects (SOBA) and the RIBA Equality Forum: Architects for Change. The RIBA and CABE (Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment) are exhibition sponsors. Please contact Emilie Harrak for more information on 020 7307 3770.


 
Summer 2003

RhysJones hosts Building Work for Women event

 
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RhysJones on the move! 

RhysJones hosted the Building Work for Women "Building Skills Seminar and Celebration" held at the Building Centre in London on 8 July 2003. The evening reception and seminar attracted a broad cross section of men and women from the construction industry to hear of the key successes of the Building Work for Women programme.

Short presentations were made by project partners, employers, tradeswomen, and trainees about their experience of the BWW programme and its benefits.

During an audience debate, guests took the opportunity to discuss the issues raised during the presentation and made suggestions for developing a properly trained workforce drawn from the whole working population.

At the end of the seminar copies of the Building Work for Women Qualifying Your Experience - Gaining a CSCS card through NVQ/SVQ handbook were distributed. The guide is to help assesors and trainees understand the procedures for gaining a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card. More information about the CSCS card is available from the CSCS website. Further copies of the document are available from Building Work for Women.
Telephone: 020 7637 8265
Fax: 020 7637 8266
Email: caroline@bww.org.uk

For more information about the event, please contact Cheryl Rendell at RhysJones Consultants.
Telephone: 020 7091 0007
Fax: 020 7091 0005
Email: cheryl@rhysjones.com


 
Summer 2003

RhysJones on the move!

 
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Fellowship for RhysJones director 

RhysJones have relocated offices to an exciting new development in Lambeth.

Situated south of Westminster, the bright new row of offices is part of a regeneration project for the local area and is within convenient walking distance from Lambeth North tube station and Waterloo mainline station.

Our new contact details are:
RhysJones
79 Lambeth Walk
London
SE11 6DX
Tel: 020 7091 0007
Fax: 020 7091 0005
Email: contact@rhysjones.com

Click here for a local map.


 
Summer 2003

Fellowship for RhysJones director

 
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RhysJones director speaks at mentoring launch 

Sandi Rhys Jones, director of RhysJones consultants, has been elected to a fellowship of the Chartered Institute of Building.

Sandi was chosen for the fellowship in recognition of her major contribution to the construction industry over the years. The award is for her work as construction journalist, marketeer and director.

The presentation ceremony took place on 27 June at the Chartered Institute of Building in Ascot.

 
Summer 2003

RhysJones director speaks at mentoring launch

 
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Imperial College debate chaired by RhysJones director 

Sandi Rhys Jones took a leading role in the launch of a mentoring programme on Monday 19th May 2003 at the Institution of Civil Engineers.

Run by ICEFLOE, the Institution of Civil Engineers Equal Opportunities Forum and JIVE Partners, the innovative mentoring programme for women civil engineers is designed to help increase the representation of women in the construction industry and support them in facing the challenges of developing successful careers.

At the launch, Jacqui Brown of ICEFLOE spoke of her hopes for the programme. It is particularly focused at supporting women during the professional review process, planning or returning from a career break, rising through the profession and breaking the ‘glass ceiling’. ICE hopes to extend the programme to all its members in the future.

The main speaker of the evening was Sandi Rhys-Jones, who spoke inspirationally of the need to continue the good work begun by the Cawthra and Latham Reports.

"There are so few women in the industry that it is vital to build the confidence, careers and profile of those that are and mentoring is a key way of doing this."

A celebration event followed a day of training for the new mentors and mentees participating in this initiative. The launch was attended by the participants of the ICE mentoring programme and representatives of other organisations who are planning to join or who are interested in being part of a National Mentoring Programme for Women in the Construction Industry, which is being spearheaded by JIVE Partners.

For more information about the ICE Mentoring Programme for Women, please contact Jacqui Brown, ICEFLOE member - 01962 869263, or if you are interested in finding out more about the National Mentoring Programme for Women in Construction, please contact Lis Merrick, National Mentoring Co-ordinator, JIVE Partners - 01274 758910.


 
Spring 2003

Imperial College debate chaired by RhysJones director

 
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Equal Opportunities debate chaired by RhysJones director 

Rod Rhys Jones chaired an event at Imperial College entitled "Harnessing The Hunger Hormone" on Tuesday 29 April 2003.

Professor Steve Bloom, Head of the Department of Metabolic Medicine, gave a fascinating presentation on his current research that focuses on the mechanisms which control appetite in the brain, and in particluar why one feels less hungry after eating. Professor Bloom has identified the hormone PYY3-36 as a key to this process and has found though his work with obese patients that the hormone can reduce food cravings by one third.

Rod Rhys Jones also introduced a panel of guests, each with their own perspective on the way that food, appetite and obseity affects modern life. These comprised Richard Ashcroft, a medical ethicist at Imperial College Faculty of Medicine, Jacqueline Boorman, Sport Dietician and consultant to UK Athletics, British Rowing and Diving teams, and Normadie Keith, former model and Beauty Editor for You magazine.

The audience participated in a debate on this topical subject and raised funds for the Imperial College Student Opportunities Fund.


 
Spring 2003

Equal Opportunities debate chaired by RhysJones director

 
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RhysJones director in Radio 4 discussion 

On Tuesday 8 April Sandi Rhys Jones chaired the first joint event organised by the London branch of the Institute of Civil Engineers (ICE) and the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB). The evening debate was entitled “Equal opportunities legislation: a help or hindrance in construction?” The topicality and relevance of the subject was reflected in the large and wide-ranging audience, from students to retired engineers, employers and employees.

A panel of four speakers each spent a few minutes relating their experiences of inequality in their careers and described the measures they believed would help prevent discrimination in the construction industry.

Joe Tavernier, head of street environment for the London borough of Tower Hamlets, described how equal opportunities in the workplace leads to higher quality output, though flexibility and offering opportunities to all. Although as a black person he had not experienced clear racial prejudice, he was aware of the pitfall of being a token black person to make up numbers in the workplace. He pointed out that he had more often experienced prejudice for not being a chartered civil engineer. Not fitting into the norm, he said, is not always easy to spot, and discrimination might not often be recognised as such.

Helen Stone explained that the subtlety of discrimination prevented it from being policed properly by legislation. With 25 years experience as a civil engineer she described how slow attitudes are to change. She encountered problems such as the gender pay gap at the beginning of her career. Now at the top of her profession she is aware of similar discrimination preventing women entering the boardroom. Legislation, Helen argued, was actually counter-productive to change. Discrimination is too difficult to measure and legislation slippery, bureaucratic and impossible to enforce. Her frustration with the lack of change has led her to consider that quotas of women and men may be the only way to attain gender equality in the construction industry.

John McGuinness, a consultant for Knowles Legal Service, experienced ageism when he was made redundant from Laings in middle age. He acknowledged that there are benefits for companies to recruit younger people, but older people, with extensive experience and knowledge, are largely undervalued and cannot get back on the career ladder except by starting again and retraining from the bottom.

Jacqui Brown, a highways engineer for Hampshire County Council, described her experience of flexible working as a mother at home and her work with ICEFLOE (Fair Level Open and Equal) as a means of fostering equal opportunities in addition to legislation.

During questions many more issues were raised and discussed, but when Sandi Rhys Jones sampled the audience most people were still undecided as to whether equal opportunities actually worked to prevent discrimination. Mike Carlish, CIOB Regional Director, gave the final keynote speech, concluding that discrimination was so broad and complicated that legislation could not cover every element. Education and a change in attitudes are the only ways to effect a change in behaviour, he believes. The evening certainly encouraged everyone to take a fresh look at the idea of equality of opportunity for all and the ways it can be implemented in the construction industry.

Useful links:
- The Institute of Civil Engineers
- ICEFLOE
- Chartered Institute of Building

 
Winter 2003

RhysJones director in Radio 4 discussion

 
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Sandi Rhys Jones OBE and Rachel Epsilon, an electrical contractor, joined Martha Kearney on Radio Four's Woman's Hour on Friday 3 January to discuss recent research conducted by AXA Insurance. It confirms what some of us have long presumed - that women are 20 per cent more likely to be overcharged by tradespeople than men asking for the same job to be done. Sandi and Rachel commented on why women continue to be vulnerable and why the industry image makes so many of its customers nervous.

Sandi talked of her own experience and warned of tradesmen who inflate problems and the costs to fix them. "Their trick is to make you feel so grateful that they have identified this enormous problem that you won't question their extortionate fees."

Lack of knowledge about the problem doesn't help men or women to judge whether work is appropriately priced or completed to a good standard. Sandi told Martha that she thought women needed guidance on how to deal with tradespeople, as well as manage practial work in their own homes. After the interview Sandi said she would like to develop a guide for women on how to select and employ tradespeople and what one might expect to pay. Pamphlets produced by the DIY stores are a source of valuable information about home maintenance. A more ambitious programme would be to develop guidance for householders dealing with simple problems. "Turning off the water as it comes into a house can reduce damage from flooding but few people know it is called the 'rising main' and where it is located in the house." She also believes that the insurance industry could insist on builders of new housing providing adequate information for householders.

If you would like to listen to the interview or contribute to a discussion on the Woman's Hour website please click here.