Anyone working within the construction industry will be aware of the huge divide in the number of women working across the sector in comparison to the number of men. According to an article from Go Construct, Women make up around 14% of construction industry professionals which although has increased significantly over the past few years, is still a very low statistic given that women make up approximately half of the UK working population.
There are several factors that explain this enormous gender gap, from unconscious gender bias to the lack of adequate training to overall perceptions of women working in construction. At Key Integrated Services we are dedicated and determined to close this gender gap within the industry and we are proud to be making an active difference for women.
Despite the barriers within the construction sector, women continue to build incredibly successful careers across the industry. Our Ventilation Department Manager within our Ventilation Services department, Linda Barnes is one of these incredible women.
Linda has recently been nominated for the The Women In Construction & Engineering Awards for their ‘Life Time Achievement in Engineering’ award. She’s made a significant impact across the North West having been involved with hundreds of schemes over the past 33 years totalling approximately £40 million in new sales alone. The ventilation section of the construction industry can be a very difficult division in general as there are very tough contracting conditions involved and larger M & E contractors and builders are often a challenge to work with. These difficulties are enhanced by the gender divide within such a heavily male-based industry.
As Ventilation Department Manager at Key Integrated Services, Linda is fully responsible for the entire department and has taken the department from a standing start to an annual turnover of approximately £1.5 million in ten years.
Across her career, Linda has made a significant contribution both financially and operationally to all the companies she has been involved with. This is highlighted through a number of internal and external projects where she ran and managed stand alone departments. She consistently hits sales and gross profit targets year on year and provides technical support on all aspects of ventilation services, building regulations, fire safety, DW144 and 154.
As a profession, estimating is a skill in its own right. Linda has the confidence and technical ability to train individuals who are new to this niche role which in itself is inspiring as many companies don’t have the ability or capacity to train in this specific skill to any extent. Linda has given a voice for women within the construction industry, interacting with men on a daily basis successfully showing to her colleagues and peers across the years in both engineering and construction that women can be successful in male-heavy white collar work.
It is extremely important that women like Linda continue to breakdown boundaries within the construction industry as the sector still has a long way to go with a report published by Randstad in 2020, highlighting that of 4,200 women working in construction, nearly three-quarters (72%) had experienced some form of gender discrimination in the workplace in 2019.
Linda has shown that women can be successful and thrive in any area of construction and she actively encourages women to consider a career within the industry.
Linda has ensured that, over the past 33 years, professionalism has remained one of her key attributes, a much needed trait in the ventilation sector. She has created a number of jobs over her years in the construction industry and has provided a fantastic level of service across the many projects she has been involved with. Linda has successfully secured and delivered over 200 projects for Key Integrated Services and is an incredibly valued member of the team.
Linda has incredible determination having followed a very tough career path working in a wholly male-dominated specialist area of the sector. In the early years of her career outside Key Integrated Services, Linda faced discrimination on a regular basis and has had to deal with derogatory comments and attitudes. At Key Integrated Services we have a firm policy against all discriminatory behaviour and attitudes in all forms.
Prior to creating Key Integrated Services, Mark Poulton (Director) employed Linda in a different business. Mark Poulton understands and recognises the importance of people to a business and understands how senior management can significantly impact employee’s progression and careers.
“Through working with Linda, I learnt that good people just need to be provided with the right tools, some guidance, structure, incentives and most importantly be trusted to go off and help take the company in the right direction. After trusting Linda’s ability and giving her more autonomy, we instantly started seeing better results across the business. This ethos has been pushed across Key Integrated Services and as a result we are still experiencing double digit growth with an exciting future ahead.”
“Out of all the departments and people we have at Key Integrated Services, Linda is by far a standout individual. If every company had ten Linda’s they would be unstoppable. Her fiercely passionate nature, attention to detail and refusal to be beaten are just a handful of reasons why there is no one I would rather have on my side than Linda. If there was ever a woman in construction that had a story to tell it would be Linda. Growing up in a rough sector of the industry you simply would not survive without a formidable character like Linda’s.”
In addition to a busy working life, Linda is also mother to two young girls. Linda and her husband are also foster parents, currently providing long term care to two boys who have improved significantly since being under their care. From all at Key Integrated Services we wanted to thank Linda for her incredible contribution to Key Integrated Services and to the industry as a whole and we hope that women working within construction, and young women who want to pursue a future in construction, can look up to Linda as a role model for determination, hard work and breaking gender barriers.
Are you looking to kickstart your career within the construction industry? We are always looking for inspiring individuals to join our team so send your CV and cover letter over to us at [email protected] and we’ll be in touch!