How women are raising the roof in construction

What comes to mind when you think of roofing? Most people view the roofing industry as a male dominated profession, but there is a growing cohort of women opting for careers in roofing.

More women entering the industry can only be a good thing: The RICS and Macdonald Company & Rewards and Attitudes survey found that the gender pay gap across the construction industry as a whole was just over 20%, down from 36% in the previous year.

IKO has a great team of women working at all levels of the business, working hard to develop their skills and careers within construction as we believe our people are our best asset.

For example, Collette Burton, IKO’s Purchasing Team Leader has undertaken six professional qualifications since joining the company. She said: “It’s a really nice company to work for, there is support and IKO always look to progress staff from within.”

Kate Wilcox, IKO’s Head of Finance has also benefitted from the commitment to investing in talent from within. Kate has risen through ranks from trainee accountant to management level, proving that there really are no limits to progression.

Kate said: “IKO supported all of my training and for other members of staff as well; they invest in their people and are rewarded for it. At IKO I feel valued, part of the team and because of that we all see the bigger picture. It makes you feel part of the company.”

Helen Wignall, Customer Services Manager, who first joined IKO as maternity cover added: “At IKO we have a real family feel and this is reflected onto our customers. I have a great relationship with my customers, it’s a relationship that has developed with trust over time. I love that I can come to work and help solve customer problems, making sure they are happy with the service we give them.”

Amy Earlam, Research and Development Chemist, commented: “Dealing with customer feedback is essential, it means I can make sure the laboratory reflects what the customer needs.”

Amy’s role is very hands-on and in fact, it’s one of her favourite aspects of the job. She explained: “The testing of raw materials is a fun part of my job; it gives us an up-to-date idea of what’s happening on the production line to keep product quality high. Making sure we identify any problems the customer might have before it leaves the factory is essential.”

Amy is not the only woman getting her hands dirty at IKO. Nicola Belger joined IKO over 15 years ago and knows the family-run business inside out. Initially joining the company’s customer services department, Nicola has had experience in various areas of the business.

She said: “I love every minute of my job. I’m now the Area Business Manager for the North-West, looking after Merchants, Roofing Distribution, and Insulation. It is great meeting my existing customers but also bringing on new ones and building the relationship”.

One of my favourite parts on my job is the hands-on approach (demonstrations) and putting on my hard hat and safety shoes and getting on that roof! During my role in the Roofing Specification Division, I could see people thought it was different to see a woman in this role, but times are changing and there are more women in this industry now. I would really like to make the younger generation see what opportunities there are for them in this industry.

“IKO is a great company to work for. I have been encouraged by the senior team to take on new challenges. The company is all about sharing knowledge and development – everyone wants to help you and I really enjoy playing my part when we have new starters joining the IKO family.”

Elsewhere in the team is Hema Mistry, IKO’s Technical Manager for IKO enertherm, a relatively new product for the company. Hema made the move from Technical Designer at IKO Polymeric around a year ago. She said: “It’s been a step up as it’s a completely new side of the business, but I’ve had lots of support from colleagues. There’s lots to take in but ultimately, I’m confident it will all pay off.

“Working at IKO is great – I’m never treated any differently to my male counterparts and we all support each other. Obviously, we have lots still to do as an industry to encourage more women to join us but seeing women represented across the business will definitely help the next generation picture themselves in those positions. I’m really optimistic about the future when it comes to promoting more women in roofing.”

As a Production Operative at IKO Polymeric, Inez Hassan has a unique position within IKO PLC, being the first female Production Operative based at Clay Cross, Derbyshire. With a background in manufacturing (specifically extrusion), Inez was clearly the right person for the position and has now been at IKO for over six months.

Inez is enjoying the work and puts this mainly down to her colleagues: “Everybody is so nice to me and willing to teach me everything they know. I quite enjoy working here. We get on well.”

It is this learning by doing and friendly attitude that has made it so easy for Inez to hit the ground running, stating: “You need to use your brain to its full capacity to remember the information that is required. Every day you come across different situations and find out what you need to do in each scenario. I listen to my colleagues and take all the advice on board to be able to apply this knowledge next time round.”

It is this type of education that highlights what being a production operative is all about. For example, sometimes there are tasks which appear simple but are actually quite complicated, such as switching machines on and off.

Inez explained: “It is not as simple as pressing a button. There is a complex process involved in this. It takes about an hour and a half to turn a machine on or off and I quite like planning this process in my head.”

Although there are many different roles within IKO that require the passion and dedication Inez is showing, she has some simple advice for anyone looking to take a more hands-on role within construction: “Get yourself a pair very comfortable safety boots, be yourself and don’t be afraid to ask questions!”

As an equal opportunities’ employer, IKO is keen to enable our staff to reach their full potential regardless of their gender, sexuality, race, age, disability, sexual orientation, or religion. This is reflected in our IKO Values: agility, humility, integrity, long-term, performance and sharing knowledge.

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