Working for women in a man’s world

By Kelly Cartwright, Jark Norfolk

To be successful in the world of construction, which is still largely male-dominated, you must have a no-nonsense approach and heaps of confidence. And if you are good at what you do, you can build a great business.
Published in Norfolk Director magazine, Spring | Summer 2022
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Recruitment: Jark Norfolk

Here at Jark Norfolk, we have developed a recruitment agency brand that our candidates and our clients know and trust. They know we are what we do and not what we say we’ll do.  

I strive to be the best I can be in my business life. I am driven to not only meet but exceed expectations, to stand out and lead the way for young women in business and within the construction industry in particular.

The best way to know your industry inside and out is to be fully immersed. So, for one week at the end of last year, I pulled on my hard hat, high-vis jacket and boots and laboured on site for a week. I used the opportunity to raise awareness for the mental health charity, Mind, for whom I donated an average week’s wages. I also wanted to raise awareness about women working in construction.

The whole experience was invaluable. I can honestly say this has helped me to provide a more authentic recruitment service in the sector and create long-standing business partners. Further, it got me a little more respect in a male-dominated world.

But above all, I sincerely hope it will inspire like-minded women who want a career within construction. Figures show that women only make up a tiny number of construction industry professionals. In 2019, according to the GMB Union, they amounted to just 12.5% of the workforce, or one in eight people. The number is rising, but much too slowly for my liking. It might take another 200 years to reach equality at the current rate.

‘Giving back’ another way

When Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the lockdown at the end of March 2020, our industry, like so many others, shut down overnight.

It was no surprise that our service, as a construction recruitment agency, was hit hard. The demand for workers slumped to an unprecedented low due to the lockdown and closure of many building sites.

I am trained to Face Fit construction workers (checking respiratory protective equipment works correctly), so I got in touch with local hospitals (James Paget, NNUH, Colchester and Ipswich) to volunteer to Face Fit the front-line NHS Staff.

I ended up carrying out over 500 Face Fit tests within the hospitals, even upon Red Wards (red meaning with confirmed COVID-19 cases.). The reach from social media spread far and wide, and I had private dental clinics and other businesses get in touch so I could Face Fit test their staff, too!

At times like this, the business world can give something back to the community, and I’m proud to have played a small part in that. 

Working for women in a man’s world 1

Kelly Cartwright is owner and director of Jark Norfolk
T: 01603 618849
E: kcartwright@jark.co.uk

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