‘In this #YesSheCan blog, Keith Fryer talks to us about diversity and inclusivity and how he is leading the way to break down gender roles!’
If inclusivity is really genuine and heartfelt, then it has to mean something on the ground, not just in the cloud. Actions speak far louder than words.
As a co-owner of an independent builders’ merchant, I fully accept that our sector comes with a lot of baggage attached and sometimes it’s impossible to avoid seeing prejudice in some cringingly awful situations, but we do have to believe that change is happening; in my opinion it really is, for the better.
You have 2 basic life choices that you can make; you can be a Victim or a Victor. I know, they’re very stark words and probably do not reflect the blend of situations that we often find ourselves in, where we don’t necessarily have easy choices. However, as principles go I think they stand.
So, when faced with making big decisions it’s a good place to start: do I want to just accept that whatever happens, happens, or can I try to do something about it?
That has to speak to all of us and if we take the ‘do something’ route it can become self-fulfilling. People begin to realise that you won’t just accept whatever is put across as acceptable and if you’re the decision maker you begin to make it normal to alter boundaries.
Before this sounds like some sort of virtue trip there needs to be a hefty chunk of confession! I do not see myself as some specialist in equality or any particular areas of diversity; in fact, I expect many people would see me as a bit of a dinosaur, but underneath I really do want fairness. Opportunities are there and they should be available to all.
Our business is far from perfect and we’re a small organisation. Needs of the business and some knee jerk decisions based around time or resources available make for some weaker outcomes, but the underlying ‘fairness’ is there.
We’re breaking down gender roles and that is initially quite tough in a site that has a manual handling, outdoor environment, but it’s happening. What’s more we also want progression, and a recent example is one of our yard team who expressed an interest in becoming an HGV crane offload driver. We need more drivers so to us it was a no-brainer, and she is booked for her initial training; we hope that we’ll see a positive driving test by February 2022 and then it’s onwards and upwards!
We see an increasing number of women taking on a far wider range of roles and while that’s important in management it’s also crucial for jobs on the ground, to give complete inclusivity. There’s a very noticeable increase in ‘tradespeople’ where women are taking up all manner of skilled craft work.
The current employment situation provides a brilliant springboard for everyone, but it also needs that Victor spirit: you need to be a Victor……and you can!